I read an article from Guideposts recently that I found interesting. It talked about the different friendships mentioned in the Bible and their overall importance to the persons involved in the friendship. It seems to indicate that close friendships truly are a gift from God to help us navigate our time here on earth more richly.
Some pairings and groupings were quite interesting and even unpredictable… such as the relationship between Jonathan and David.
One of the most famous friendships of the Bible almost didn’t happen. David and Jonathan were supposed to be enemies. Jonathan was the son of King Saul, the very monarch David was appointed by God to replace. King Saul wanted to kill David. But Jonathan befriended him and risked his own life to warn David of his father’s plans. 1 Samuel 18 says that Jonathan loved David “as his own soul.” When Jonathan was slain in battle, David even composed “The Song of the Bow” and instructed all the children of Israel to learn it.
Moses and Aaron weren’t just brothers. They worked together too. Although Moses was leader of the Israelites, he was terrified of public speaking. So Aaron became his mouthpiece. And, when Moses was tired from battle, Aaron and another man held up his arms. Talk about a solid support team!
Naomi and Ruth: When Naomi’s husband and two sons died, she thought God had forsaken her. She decided to return to Bethlehem alone. But Ruth, her daughter-in-law, refused to leave her side, saying, “wherever you go, I will go.” The two became inseparable and looked out for one another. Naomi guided Ruth into a relationship with Boaz. And Ruth cared for Naomi in old age.
As I continued reading about more examples of famous friendships in scripture…I was taken by surprise when Jesus’ name appeared…instead of listing the twelve apostles as His friendship group….the friendship unity consisted of Jesus, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus instead.
Jesus and Martha (and Mary and Lazarus)
Martha often gets a bad rap, but she’s one of only three people—along with her siblings Mary and Lazarus—called out in the Gospel of John as Jesus’s friends. In fact, John 11:5 says, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” They were so close that when Lazarus died, Martha and Mary sent a personal message to Jesus to let him know. When Jesus came to see what had happened, it was Martha who ran out to meet him and implored him to heal her brother.
I decided to do some more research on the deep friendship between Jesus and the three siblings…Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. One source indicated that when Jesus attended his first Passover in Jerusalem (around the age of twelve) he and his parents were welcomed into the hospitable house of Simon at Bethany as religious pilgrims and it is there where Jesus first met Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazarus…all about His same age.
Once Jesus started His ministry it appears that He never returned home again which you would assume He would do occasionally to get a hot meal from mom and a good night’s sleep. Instead whenever Jesus was exhausted and sought refuge it was always in the home of Martha (Being the oldest she had inherited the home.)
Bible Faithway mentions this idea in one narrative that suggests “… the home belonged to Martha and being older than Mary and Lazarus, she carried the responsibility of all connected with household affairs in a home where “Jesus found the curse of the sojourner lifted from Him, and, in reversal of His own description of His loneliness and penury, found where to lay His head.”
“What strikes us forcibly is that after Jesus left His natural home at the age of thirty to enter upon His public ministry we do not read of Him returning to it for rest and relaxation. It was to the warm, hospitable home at Bethany to which He retired, for He loved the three who lived in it, Martha, Mary and Lazarus—in this order—which is something we do not read concerning His own brothers and sisters.”
The significance of all of this strikes home…we need friends in our lives. Somehow…just knowing Jesus had close friends to turn to when he was down and exhausted from His spiritual burdens is comforting to those of us who continue to love Him. He had somewhere to go for a good meal, laughter, shared values, and a good night’s rest. (Martha even made room for Jesus’s other friends…the twelve apostles…now that really is hospitality!)
Frank Viola, in his book God’s Favorite Place on Earth chooses Bethany over Jerusalem…the place Jesus loved that would ultimately forsake him. The synopsis cites: When He came to earth, Jesus Christ was rejected in every quarter in which He stepped. The Creator was rejected by His own creation. “He came to His own and His own received Him not,” said John. For this reason, Jesus Christ had “no where to lay His head.” There was one exception, however. A little village just outside of Jerusalem named Bethany. Bethany was the only place on earth where Jesus was completely received.
*It was an example of the unconditional love of friendship Jesus so desperately needed while on earth.
As parents aren’t we always commenting that our wish for our children is simply that they should be “happy?” I think we should change that universal hope to wishing our children close friendships in their lives…because that, in turn, does bring happiness.
*God Wink: It was after I had written the blog yesterday morning that I started cleaning up my bedroom and getting things put away for the Easter crowd coming. As I was putting notecards in a box to save…the title picture/card popped up. As soon as I looked at it…I knew it had to be from Jackson. Unanimously among the Ya’s she is voted the best card giver…they are always warm and happy. The cards also contain a wonderful message. (as you can see on the title photo)
“My dearest Boo….Fifty years of laughter, tears, sadness, and joy – our journey through life together has not only made us stronger but proves that true friends are a gift from God.”
My hands were shaking when I realized the card and the title message for the blog went hand in hand. Thank you Jackson for your friendship and let’s all keep Jackson in our prayers as she begins to recover from her second knee replacement procedure.
So until tomorrow…As we go through Holy Week…let us all thank God for friendship…how lonely and sad our lives would be without it. To all of you, my friends, have a blessed Holy Week…you make me a better person for simply being in my life.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
My delight of the day (yesterday) was the sight of these two azalea bushes… they had intertwined and produced a two-toned beautiful sight beyond compare.