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 THE FRIENDS OF JESUS!

Or ... Jesus and Friendship!

John 15:15 records for us something Jesus said one day:  "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."

What a thought that is!

We who are saved by the Grace of God are ... friends of Jesus!

Study with us for a few Lessons Jesus and friendship!

 

Recent photo of the Preacher and  his wife Sister Norma Bagwell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1:  (SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 2005, FROM CUMMING, GEORGIA)

When Sister Norma and I first thought of studying the friendships of Jesus ... I had some reservations.  After all, Jesus is God!  And God needs no friends!

But then the Holy Spirit brought a verse to mind.  It's found in John's Gospel. "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."  Jesus said that!  (John 15:15)   Look! He has decided to be a Friend to those who are saved!  I call this DELIBERATE FRIENDSHIP!

Then I was shown another verse.  In Hebrews 2:17 Paul tells us something about Jesus.  "Wherefore in all things it behoved Him (Jesus) to be made like unto his brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."   Jesus was to come to earth to be the Saviour ... and that required His being made like unto us!  That little verb "behoved" is "opheilo" in Greek and means obligated or indebted!  Jesus HAD to be fashioned as a man ... and that involved His having friends too!  Men, to be human, just MUST have friends!  This is DESIGNED FRIENDSHIP!  God predetermined it!  It was necessary that the High Priest be identified with His people!

Next someone pointed out to me that Jesus ... for all of eternity ... had been in the habit of communing with a Friend, His Father in Heaven!  Never once had broken fellowship ever occurred in the Triune Godhead!  In fact, the very Essence of the Trinity is fellowship and oneness!  Therefore ...when Jesus came to earth, it was only logical that He would not only continue to commune with His Father in Heaven ... but also with His new friends (Believers) on earth as well!  He had been the eternal Friend ... now He would also be the earthly Friend!  Such fellowship offered to us old ex-sinners is astounding!   That's DURATIVE FRIENDSHIP!  It's constant!  And it will never end!

Lastly let me mention that Jesus has not always been accepted as a Friend! Strange as it may seem ... millions have rejected His Offer!  Listen to John 1:11 and 12.  "He came unto his own, and His own received him not.  But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name."  This is DELAYED FRIENDSHIP.  It was first offered to Israel ... who promptly refused it!  Then God extended the invitation elsewhere ... to the Gentiles!  (Praise His Name!) To Americans!  To South Carolinians!  To residents of Greenville County!  To inhabitants of the countryside near Simpsonville!  To a family on Bethel Road!  Even to their oldest son whose name was Michael Bagwell.  And He accepted Jesus!  I, the day of my salvation, became His friend!  And I learned that He was my Friend too!  (It was delayed!  I got it second hand!  But it is all the more precious because of that!)

Am I writing to someone today who needs a friend?

A real Friend?

Well, Jesus is the Answer!

But ... really, your potential Friend Jesus says it better than anyone else: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me."  Revelation 3:20

"Supping" with the Lord ... the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of mankind!

Now ... that's friendship!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2:        (TUESDAY, JUNE 7, 2005, FROM CUMMING, GEORGIA)

There is a little poem that our daughter gave to my wife years ago.  It praises Motherhood in general and Joy's Mother (Sister Norma, my wife) in particular.

I can truly say that for 35 years those two, a daughter and a Mother, have been friends!

In studying the life of Jesus I have sincerely decided that indeed Jesus and His Mother were friends too!  At least I believe that's the indication Scripture gives us.

The Virgin Mary was a very special lady!  No, she is not God.  No, she is not a saviour!  She was a sinner who had to be saved by Grace ... just like the rest of us born-again folks.

But she was a godly lady!

She was chosen of God to bear the Lord Jesus into this world. 

And Jesus, as is true with any little boy, learned to love her dearly.  He no doubt heard his first Bible stories from her lips.  He saw her model purity and reverence and love for God's Word ... not counting dozens of other Christian graces!  Listen to how Paul characterizes a Mom's impact upon a young boy. "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."  (2nd Timothy 3:14)  Where did young Timothy learn the Word?  Paul again:  "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also."  2nd Timothy 1:5

Why, think also of the suffering Mary would have endured just  because of Who Jesus was (and still is)!  That alone would have bound them together. Remember what Simeon told Mary when Jesus was but an Infant ... "Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also ...."  (Luke 2:35)  Think of how Mary hurt as her Son was mocked and hated then finally crucified!

She, a godly Mom,  saw to it that her Boy was taken to the Temple at an early age too.  There His love for the Scriptures became even more known to careful Bible students through the centuries!  Where did He first learn such depth of wisdom and attentiveness to Scripture?  At His Mother's knee!  "And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions."  Luke 2:46

Jesus obeyed His Mother too! Read Luke 2:51 --- "And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart."  Such obedience presupposes respect and honor!

And after that Temple event in Jerusalem at age 12, Joseph (husband of Mary) is never mentioned again.   If he died (as most Bible teachers suggest) Jesus (the Eldest Son) would have had the responsibility of caring for His Mother, providing her basic needs like food and shelter.  Such responsibility would have bred friendship.

Jesus' first miracle (the wedding at Cana of Galilee in John 2) involved His Mother too.  Listen to what she said to the servants when the wine supply had been exhausted ... "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it."  (John 2:5)  Words like that certainly indicate no animosity between the two.  They were friends.

Mary apparently followed Jesus during His public ministry also. At least Matthew, Mark and Luke seem to so suggest.  Matthew 12:46 --- "While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him."

Then maybe the most pronounced evidence of all concerning the friendship between the God/Man and Mary His earthly Mother is ... her behaviour at the Cross!  While we are specifically told that all the Disciples ran away ... we are just as clearly told that Mary didn't!  She stood by Her Son, her Saviour and our Redeemer!  See John 19:26.  That's friendship, deep friendship!  Loyal friendship!  (Mothers in America today are forsaking their sons and daughter by the thousands per day!  Mary did not forsake her Son!)

And Jesus' last request to any man on earth concerned His Mother.  As He was near death on Calvary, our Lord spoke to John (who had returned to Golgotha by then) and asked a favor.  John, would you take care of Mother for Me?  Take her to your home and be her provider.  And Mother, go with him please.  Here is friendship in action!  "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."  John 19:25-27

Yes, I really do believe that the first earthly friend Jesus had was a lady!  His Mother!  And I would say yet today that any young man (or young lady for that matter) who has among his or her friends ... a precious Mother ... is blessed indeed!

My Mom was my friend!  She prayed for me and loved to hear me preach and encouraged me every way possible.  I have missed her so much since she went to Heaven!

An astounding thought!

Jesus had friends!

Are you one of them?

Our Lord said in John 15:15 --- "I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."

Amen!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3:                                 (THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 2005)

I believe Jesus and John the Baptist were friends!

Spiritually the two recognized each other at a young age.

Prior to birth!

AS an infant still in his Mother's womb, little John the Baptist responded to the Presence of the unborn Jesus!

Luke 1:41 tells us:  "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost."

Let's let Elisabeth tell it herself (to Mary) ... "For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy."  Luke 1:44

That friendship began early!

And when John first laid eyes on Jesus (as young adults) he cried:  "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."  (John 1:29)

Words indicate the presence of friendship ... or the lack of it!

Again, listen to John:  "He must increase, but I must decrease."  John 3:30

Friendship is unselfish and not jealous at all!

And here's a key element in friendship.  How does one speak of the other behind his back?

Well, listen to Jesus, behind John's back, speak about his friend! (John was in prison at this time.)  "But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."  (Matthew 11:9-11)  That's friendship!

And watch what Jesus did when He heard that John the Baptist His friend had been slain.  "And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities."   (Matthew 14:12-13)  Our Lord had to get away!  Such grieving surely suggests friendship!  Jesus had to be alone!

And maybe the best "friendship" evidence of all is found in an incident near the time of Jesus' Death.  He had been arrested and Pilate, not wanting to condemn Him, tried to send Him to Herod for examination.  Once before Herod, the man who murdered John the Baptist, our Lord did something unusual.  He refused to even speak to the man!  "And as soon as he (Pilate) knew that he (Jesus) belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.  Then he questioned with him in many words; but He answered him nothing."  (Luke 23:7-9) I believe this uncharacteristic silence was Jesus' response to Herod's unprovoked murder of john the Baptist, His friend.

Look at what we have studied!

Friendship ... between two Preachers!

May it happen again and again and again!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4:              (FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005)

The first time Jesus saw Peter ... He said:  "And he (Andrew) brought him (Peter) to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone."  John 1:42

Jesus had no sooner laid His holy eyes upon Peter, but that He was envisioning in him great things!

Old Peter, unstable as he can be, known as a "rock?"

Now that's the beginning of a great friendship!

Jesus, the greatest Friend of all, seeing bright and victorious things in the future for his friend Peter!

Did you notice that Jesus' friendship and influence was so strong that even Peter's name and hence his nature were changed by the impact of Christ's Life!

Notice also that this budding friendship led to a "call" to spend more time together.  Friendship costs time!  "And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.  And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him."   Luke 5:10-11

Close friendship also leads to intimacy.  One friend will get to know his counterpart in ever expanding ways.  Peter was the first Disciple to fully realize Who Jesus was!  "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."   Matthew 16:16

And this also needs to be added concerning Jesus' friendship with Peter:  The Lord was just never willing to "give up" on Peter!

Even after all his ill spoken words, after his misguided thoughts, after his crazy ideas and after his curses and denials ... Jesus still loved him and pursued him ... all the way to the end.  That's the way Jesus loved His friends!  "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."  John 13:1

I mean ... even after His Resurrection!  Jesus then made it a POINT to find his guild ridden and discouraged friend Peter.  He just MUST KNOW about the Living Lord!  An angel from heaven commissioned the women at the empty tomb ... "But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you."  (Mark 16:7)  See that?  "And Peter!"  He must not be left out!  Friendship with Jesus just does not fade!

And, as you well know, one of Jesus' post-Resurrection appearances was to Peter.  That's when the Lord re-commissioned him to "Feed the sheep!"

Let me rephrase that conversation please. 

"Peter, I know you have failed.  I know you have repented.  I forgive you and need you to spend the rest of your life caring for the young lambs of God, His born-again children!  Feed them!  Protect them!  Encourage them!  And stay faithful unto death!  You will be rewarded!

And Peter did!

Who wouldn't ... with such a Friend as Jesus by his or her side?

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5:     (MONDAY NOON, JULY 4, 2005)

Could Jesus and Thomas be called friends?

Yes!

While we do not know exactly when they first met ... we do see them relating to one another three times in the Bible.

The first time Thomas' name is mentioned is in Matthew 10:3, where the Disciples are all listed!

Thomas is usually studied as an example of doubt ... but I see in him great LOYALTY and LOVE for his Lord!

He was indeed a pessimist.  He looked on the dark side.  His personality was apparently framed that way.  But he did trust Jesus completely it seems.

In John 11 Thomas was with Jesus during the death of Lazarus episode. 

He well knew the dangers lurking around Jerusalem ... at least the dangers concerning the Lord Jesus!

When it had become apparent that Lazarus was dead and that Jesus was going back to Bethany (suburban Jerusalem) ... Thomas was determined to return with Him ... into the very mouth of danger and possible death!

Listen to the Disciple:  "Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow Disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him."  John 11:16

This word is bleak!  It is looking on the gloomy side!

But it is filled with loyalty to His Friend and Saviour Jesus!

"I'm going with Him ... even if it means death!"

That's a form of true friendship, a willingness to die for one's Comrade! 

Next we see Thomas in the Upper Room the night before Jesus was arrested. He, having heard all the great teaching our Lord shared, still had a question.  A rather elementary question it appears! 

Jesus had just said:  "And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know."  John 14:4

Thomas, still sounding doubtful ... but perhaps just being honest, asked:  "Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?"  John 14:5

But, be sure of this, when Thomas finally determined that Jesus was The Way ... He was going that Way ... all the Way ... with His Master Friend!

Listen:  "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."  John 14:6

It is only to a Friend that one can pose such heart-searching questions!  Such deep issues of life and death!

Lastly we see Thomas after the Resurrection of our Lord!  He, being absent that first Sunday night, Resurrection night, was persuaded to come the next week! 

Here's John's account:  "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you."   John 14:24-26

I personally believe that with a real friend one can so deeply express the real feelings of his heart ... that he can even risk offending that friend ... in order to get to the truth, the heart of a given matter!

I think that's what Thomas just did!

He loved Jesus so much that he was terribly crushed by the recent events (the Cross and the Burial).

His love could not stand another stunning blow!

His so-called "doubt" may have been a defense mechanism to protect him from further pain!

But ... note this ... as soon as He saw Jesus and heard Him ... "Then saith Jesus to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."  John 14:27-29

"My Lord and My God!"

What a blessing to have in one's God ... also one's Friend!

And certainly that's what (Whom) Thomas had found!

Blessed friendship!

I believe they are yet friends in Heaven today!

Now ... let's listen to Jesus one more time.  This time He's talking to all us Believers. "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."  John 15:15

Did you "friends" of the Lord see that?

Amen!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6:           (MONDAY AFTERNOON, JULY 4, 2005)

Mary and Martha were also friends of Jesus!

We shall learn of Him today as He ministers to them their great time of sorrow.

Lazarus had died.

Jesus will not forsake them in their greatest hour of need!

The first thing Jesus did when Lazarus had passed ... was to come where the grieving sisters were.  He returned to Bethany!

Jesus was THERE for them!

A friend will always try to do that!

His or her very PRESENCE helps so much!

Next Jesus talked with them ... first Martha then Mary.

Words can be so encouraging!

Just the sound of that Friend's voice!

Thirdly Jesus relied on the Promises of God!

Ladies, "Thy brother shall rise again."  John 11:24

Our God is eternal.

Then Jesus did something we all can do for our sorrowing friends too.  He pointed the bereaved to Himself!  To the Saviour of the world!

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."   John 11:25-26

Get your sad friends to Jesus!

Furthermore ... Jesus, as a Friend, also did something a bit unusual ... at the graveside.  "Jesus wept."  John 11:35

Tears ... our tears ... help our friends when they are sorrowful!  Call it sympathy ... or empathy, Jesus certainly had it.  He was "touched with the feeling of our infirmities."   Hebrews 4:14

Then came the miracle ... Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead!

Friends are still around when victory comes!

And while we cannot raise anyone from the grave ... we can (and will) be around (in Heaven) when the victory ultimately comes as well!

Heaven is a place of "no sorrow!"  Revelation 21:4

Eternal friendship ... in Glory!

"Now we know in part; but then (in heaven) shall we know even as also we are known."  1st Corinthians 13:12b

Jesus, The Friend, for evermore!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:                  (EARLY EVENING, JULY 4, 2005)

The world's greatest example of LOVE occurred on an old rugged Cross some two thousand years ago.

What Love!

What compassion!

What salvation!

What friendship!

Here's how Paul expressed it in Romans 5:7-8.  "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Wow!

Then let's place beside Paul's inspired statement something Jesus said in John 15.  "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:13

Jesus died for sinners, becoming their greatest Friend!

The next time you feel no one cares ... remember that Cross!

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  John 3:16

The next time the devil tells you no one cares, call him a liar!

Jesus cares!

So much ... that He died in our stead!

One of the most often repeated attacks against our Lord while He was on earth was "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."  Luke 15:2

He did!

He befriended the lost ... leading them to repentance and salvation!

Twice Jesus was called a Friend of publicans and sinners!

"The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a Friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."   Matthew 11:19

"The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a Friend of publicans and sinners!"  Luke 7:34

And listen to what that great divine Friend of mankind had to say in Matthew 11:28-30.  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Amen!

What a friendly invitation that is!

How does anyone resist it?

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8:         (WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2005)

Here's some great news!

Great news about Jesus as a Friend!

Even after His Resurrection, His literal bodily Resurrection, He was still a Friend to those whom He loved!

For example, He encouraged Mary Magdalene.  "Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master."  (John 20:16)  Mary was the first person to whom the Resurrected Saviour appeared!  That's friendship in action!

He also revealed Himself as a Living Lord to Simon Peter, a dejected Disciple who had denied His Lord!  Paul briefly mentions this "meeting" in 1st Corinthians 15:5 --- "He was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve." Their friendship started on the other side of Calvary ... then continued and even deepened on this side!

What I am trying to say is this.  Jesus is STILL a Friend!

Yes, He is God!  He is Saviour!  He is Lord!  He is Alpha and Omega ... and so much more!

BUT He is also Friend!

The Best Friend one will ever have!

And, as a resurrected and ascended Friend ... He can even do more to help and uplift and edify His friends!

He is with us all ... never leaving us or forsaking us!

He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities!

He prays for us constantly ... interceding on our behalf!

And He's coming again to get us some day!

When Solomon told us of "a friend that sticketh closer than a brother," surely he had Jesus in mind!  (Proverbs 18:24b)

Dear Reader today, do you have Such a Friend?

If not ... listen to the Lord.  "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  Revelation 3:20

Now, that's friendship!

Meet Him today!

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

ONE MONTH SISTER NORMA AND I STUDIED "JESUS AS A FRIEND!"  YOU HAVE JUST READ SOME OF THE "GLEANINGS" WE DISCOVERED FROM THE PRECIOUS WORD OF GOD!  WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS!  SURELY WE SHOULD BE HIS "FRIEND" IN RETURN!

 

 

There's just nothing like the Word of God!

 

 

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