“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” This hymn by Joseph M. Scriven, is one of my absolute favorites. It always brings up wonderful memories of my Grandmother and her sisters gathered around the organ singing with glee. And it’s also the first thing that enters my mind when I read Matthew chapter 26.
In Proverbs 17:17 Solomon says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born at a difficult time.” What a beautiful verse. Who doesn’t want a friend like that; one who loves you at all times? Not just through the good ones, but especially through the bad ones. Jesus is that friend. He accepts, shelters, loves, and died for us. Fully knowing the betrayal, brutality, and rejection He would face, Jesus willingly left His glorious throne in heaven. Why? To ransom His life, bringing us forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father.
Reading this chapter always fills me with a swirl of emotions. Anger at the chief priests and elders. Sadness at the betrayal of Judas. Pain at the grief Jesus faced in the Garden of Gethsemane. Humility at the grace and strength Jesus exhibited. Rage at the Roman soldiers. And disappointment at the fleeing of the disciples.
My heart breaks over all that our Lord endured. Matt. 26:53 tells us that with one word Jesus could have summoned more than twelve legions of angels for His rescue. Instead, He bore our burdens and much more for the sake of our salvation. And that is why what I feel most of all when reading this chapter, is thankful. Thankful for His love and sacrifice. Because even though He knew everything about me, the good and the ugly, He chose me for His own. And not only did He choose me, He calls me friend! (John 15:15-16).
This sacrificial act of love and friendship demonstrated by Jesus is one which I do not deserve. I fail Him daily. I’m selfish, self-centered, and bent on my own needs and wants. Yet despite all of this, He wants a close personal relationship with me. The Lord willingly paid my sin debt, suffering unimaginable horrors. And He asks nothing in return, instead offering His friendship and the gift of eternal life.
The love Jesus exhibits in this true friendship, makes me want to be more like Him. I want to honor His sacrifice by walking as He teaches. To learn to be less about me and more about Him. Being the woman humbly and in faithful devotion, adorning Him in costly perfume. And hopefully in learning these things, I can experience the fullness of God’s unconditional love and become who God has called me to be.