Betrayal can only hurt when coming from a close friend, otherwise why would you care? Jesus knew this and took this emotional pain along with the physical pain to the cross.
We have all been there. Someone you care for and love deeply, for some reason pulls away. Maybe it was something you did or didn’t do. It could have been a situation in which you thought that they, of all people, would know your heart and character and would have your back, but instead they traded you and your friendship for popularity or power. Oh, the hurt and frustration that follows!
Christ knew Judas as a friend; in fact, He chose Judas to be one of His closest friends. Before Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray, He spoke to His disciples of how He would be betrayed that very night. While in the garden, He prayed to His Father to remove the cup of His impending suffering on the cross. I can’t help but think that He might not only have been referring to His walk to Calvary, but also to the loss of a close friend. If we love people like Jesus did, we ache over friendships lost. It hurts us to our deepest core.
While He prayed, He insisted that the others keep watch with Him. Oh, the devotion of a true friend who would put aside his own comfort to help Him and be there for Him. Maybe Jesus was looking for friends with such devotion as Job had in the beginning of his trials. Sure, these men would eventually fall away after awhile because of their own self-righteousness, but they did do something right: they were there for him.
Here, Jesus had these men that could not stay awake and pray for just one hour. Over and over Jesus asked them to be there for Him. Jesus, being fully God, could have called on a multitude of angels, but I believe being human, He wanted His friends to show their devotion and love for Him. Maybe Jesus knew the importance of carrying one another’s burdens and how a great friend would petition the Father on behalf of a friend’s pain and trials. I believe Jesus even knew that it was necessary to petition the Father because not every trial we go through is about us. It is sometimes about the people around you growing in their faith, as your light shines in the darkness for all to see.
In Job 2, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all traveled with Job, mourned with him, and for seven days and seven nights sat with him on the ground in ashes — speaking not a word. Oh, to have friends who would risk their own comfort to sit in the ashes with us! I believe the lack of humility in these three friends would lead them away after their lofty words were spoken and heard, yet no words fixed the problem. You see, they knew the right answers, but sometimes living out those answers looks different and takes longer than our religious eyes will allow.
A True Friend
Friendships are messy, and it takes a special friend to love even in the hard, long, and uncomfortable parts of this life. But a friend loves at ALL times, not just when it is easy and fun. “A brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). When things get hard and ashes are all around, there is nothing better in this whole world than a truthful, faithful friend! I’ve often heard, “To have a good friend, you must be a good friend.” I believe one should be a good friend, but finding that true friend who will sit in the ashes with you night and day is hard to find. It was hard even for Christ!
“For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).
What a Friend We Have in Jesus!
Praise God that we have a friend in Jesus Who holds us up when we are falling! When the brokenness of this world seems like it is falling on top of us and you can’t see a friend in the midst of the ashes, He’s there! We seek in others the very thing we find in our relationship with Christ. He knows our good qualities and our ugliness and still loves us.
Oh, to have a friend and to be a friend that has the mind and heart of Christ!