Open Your Bible
John 11:1-18, John 11:28-44, 1 Corinthians 15:12-18, 1 Corinthians 15:55
Lately, I’ve been considering how necessary it is to have friends. Long distance friends are great, of course. It’s crazy that we live in a world where we can pick up a device and have a real-time conversation while living on another continent, or even a mile away. But there’s something essential about the everyday friends you can text last minute when your car engine dies. Friends you can grab ice cream with on the hardest of days. Friends who don’t mind lingering in the living room because you both just really need to talk—about that one guy or interview or the latest book you bought on Amazon.
Christians often say that all we need is Jesus. While I understand where this sentiment comes from regarding Jesus, Scripture all tells us that our Triune, relational God created us for relationship (Genesis 1:26; 2:18), calls us His friends (John 15:15), and asks us to be His own hands and feet (1 Corinthians 12:4–12, 27). So, although it’s true that “Jesus and…” doesn’t accurately reflect how salvation works, it does reflect how community works. Even Jesus didn’t choose to minister in isolation. He allowed people to provide Him with food and relational support. Even Jesus had His own set of friends, one of them being Lazarus.
We don’t learn much about Lazarus firsthand from Scripture. We never “hear” him speak. Instead, we learn about him through the words and emotional responses of his sisters and his friends. “Lord, the one you love is sick,” said Mary and Martha in a concerned message about their brother (John 11:3). Jesus is equally troubled when he hears that his close friend has died. His emotional reaction gives away the depth of His affection, as the Jews watch tears fall from Christ’s face (vv.33–36).
You see, the centerpiece of this story isn’t Lazarus—it’s Jesus. The whole story is funneled through the lens of Christ’s love. Our Savior, the One who gave up life itself for three days, first experienced what it was like to give up His own friend. He was well-acquainted with loss, an experience that allowed Him to sympathize with us on a visceral, human level.
Revisiting the sentiment “All we need is Jesus,” maybe a better way to look at it is this: “Jesus is the only way to salvation, but we need each other to flourish in our God-given identity.” It’s not as snappy, but at least it’s true.
Remember that Jesus calls you His friend. You know that one person who will sit with you in your pain until you’ve exhausted every word in the English language? Or the one you can steal away to your favorite hiking spot with? Not only is Jesus your High Priest and Redeemer, but He is also that sort of friend.