Friend of Jesus

A meditation on Good Friday:

One aspect of the story of Jesus’ crucifixion as told in the gospels that I find striking is what happened with Jesus’ friends, his closest companions. At their final meal together, Jesus predicted that they would all abandon him, yet all adamantly denied it. They all declared the strength of their bond, a friendship unto death.

Yet when Jesus was arrested, all his friends abandoned him. One of his closest companions, Peter, even denied ever having anything to do with him. I imagine myself in Jesus’ place, arrested and jailed for no crime, and all my friends abandoning me, fearful for their own lives. I can imagine myself becoming bitter at them for their betrayal, or perhaps mournful in myself, believing that I deserved to be abandoned.

Yet after three days, when Jesus returns to his friends after the resurrection, he makes no mention of what happened. Instead of coming against them with accusations or resentment, he comes to them with love. He even embraces Peter, saying to him simply “Follow me.”

This same Peter, who hid in his cowardice and shame, would give the first sermon of the church, wrote letters that are part of the foundation of the church, and would be killed for his faith. The other disciples, the friends of Jesus, would experience similar fates of martyrdom and exile. The love of Jesus transformed them.

I am amazed at the power of love to forgive, and am inspired to forgive others. Just as I have been healed, so too do I wish for the healing of others.

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