I Have Called You Friends

Father Benson says of Christ: “It is when He is ‘lifted up’—not in the glory of triumphant Divinity, but in the shame of beaten Humanity, that He draws us to Himself. We read of His works of power and are conscious of awe and adoration: but when we read how He sat weary at the well-side while His friends went for food; how in the Garden, He turned in agonized reproach to those from whom He had hoped for consolation—’What? Could you not watch one hour with Me?’ (Mt 26:40)—when He turned once more and for the last time used the sacred name to him who had forfeited it for ever—’Friend, whereto art thou come?’ (Mt 26:50)—we are conscious of that which is even dearer to Him than all the adoration of all the angels in glory—tenderness and love and compassion—emotions to which friendship alone has a right.”

“Jesus Christ speaks to us more than once in the Scripture, not merely in hint and implication, but in deliberate statement, of this desire of His to be our friend. He sketches for us a little picture of the lonely house at nightfall, of Himself who stands and knocks upon the door and of the intimate little meal He expects. ‘And if any man will open—(any man!)—I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with Me’ (Rv 3:20). Or again, he tells those whose hearts are sick at the bereavement that comes upon them so swiftly, ‘I will not now call you servants; . . . but I have called you friends’ (Jn 15:15). Or again He promises His continual presence, in spite of appearances, to those who have learned His desires. ‘Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst’ (Mt 18:20). ‘Behold, I am with you all days’ (Mt 28:20). And, ‘as long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me’ (Mt 25:40).”

“If then there is anything clear in the Gospels it is this—that Jesus Christ first and foremost desires our friendship.”

Quotations from Robert Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912).

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