Most of us have experienced the painful loss of a friend. Whether they moved away, or we simply moved on from one another, there is real heartache when a relationship that was once close comes to an end.
At times, we may be tempted to wonder if there is an expiration date to Jesus’s friendship of us. Because we know us. And us, can be a real handful to deal with sometimes.
Jesus was and is the “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19); but is there a possibility of him one day reaching the end of his patience, and throwing in the towel on us? Just how permanent is the love of Jesus toward high-maintenance strugglers and sinners who can never seem to move past seeing themselves as a perpetual disappointment to him?
John 13:1 reminds us, “…having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
Far from being fickle, the love of Jesus toward those he calls “friend”, is the unwavering reality that we can bank our lives on. The 19th century prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon, helps us see the enduring permanence of what it means for Jesus to call you his friend:
“Beloved, I cannot tell you all that Christ has done for sinners, but this I know—if He meets with you tonight, and becomes your friend, He will stand by you to the last …
You shall be hard at work tomorrow, but as you wipe the sweat from your brow, He shall stand by you. You will, perhaps, be despised for His sake, but He will not forsake you; you will, perhaps, have days of sickness, but He will come and make your bed in your sickness for you.
You will vex Him much and grieve His Spirit. You will often doubt Him—you will go after other lovers; you will provoke Him to jealousy, but He will never cease to love you. You will, perhaps, grow cold to Him, and even forget His dear name for a time, but He will never forget you.
You may, perhaps, dishonour His cross, and damage His fair fame among the sons of men, but He will never cease to love you. No, He will never love you less—He cannot love you more …
And when the splendours of the millennium shall come, you shall partake of them—when the end shall be, and the world shall be rolled up like a worn-out vesture, and these arching skies shall have passed away like a forgotten dream—when eternity, with its deep-sounding waves, shall break up on the rocks of time, and sweep them away forever—then, on that sea of glass mingled with fire you shall stand with Christ, your friend still, claiming you, notwithstanding all your misbehaviour in the world which has gone, and loving you now, loving you on as long as eternity shall last! Oh, what a friend is Christ to sinners!”
(Charles Spurgeon, The Sinner’s Friend, Sermon #556)