Does the holiday season feel different? Squelched? Lonely? Busy? A bit out of the ordinary?…
I have been thinking about what it means to have a friendship with Jesus for a while. For whatever reason, it has become an important subject to me. I tend to think of friendship as having fun with and supporting others so I almost missed the key ingredient to a friendship with the one who created relationships. Jesus voluntarily agreed to experience what we experience so we would know He understands what our lives are like. He also lays out a plan of challenges so that we can gain insight into what His life was like.
I thought of this today because of the interaction between Jesus and Pilate in John 19:8-11. It appears thatPilate initially did not want to sentence Jesus to death so he pointed out, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Jesus actually volunteered to be mistreated because no one had the authority over Him to force it upon Him. I looked at the rest of the chapter a little different after reaching that conclusion and I noticed that Jesus was:
- physically mistreated (v. 1-2)
- ridiculed (v. 2-3)
- falsely accused (v. 6)
- hurt by peer pressure (v. 6)
- manipulated by others in authority (v. 7)
- mistreated because of the fear of other people (v. 8-9)
- abandoned by the people who should have embraced Him (v. 12-15)
- put in a position to pay the price for other people’s mistakes (v. 16-18)
Based on His experience, He can relate on a personal level to anyone who has been neglected, suffered loss, been rejected by friends, or been treated unfairly. In the same way, those of us who have experienced disappointment and setbacks have a unique opportunity to relate to Jesus. We deepen our friendship with Him when we can say, “I think I kind of know what that must have been like for Jesus. Being rejected is hard. Being abandoned hurts at the deepest levels. Paying the price others should be paying is the most challenging act of love on earth. He did all that for me and I am more grateful than ever.”
I don’t ever want to pray that trouble comes my way so that I can have a better relationship with my Savior. I am just as content to relate to Him in the good times while we are having influence and being productive. I just don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to be a better friend of his because of the hard times.