We continue this week with a short selection from the book of Fr Robert Hughes Benson, "The Friendship of Christ":
See how full are the Gospels of this desire of Jesus Christ for deep friendship with man! For the most part, it is of His Humanity that the Gospels tell us; a Humanity that cried to Its kind -- a Humanity not only tempted but also, as it were, specialized in all points like as we are. "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. " "Jesus, looking upon him, loved him" it seems with an emotion distinguished from that of the Divine Love that loves all things that It has made; loved him for the ideal which he in particular might yet accomplish, more than for the fact that he merely existed -- loved him as I love my own friend, and as he loves me.
It is these moments, probably, above all others, that have endeared Jesus Christ to humanity - - moments in which He displayed Himself as truly one of us. 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?" -- 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. Or again; -- Jesus Christ speaks to us more than once in the Scripture 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." 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." Or again He promises His continual presence, "Behold, I am with you all days." And, "as long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me."
[It is] clear in the Gospels that Jesus Christ first and foremost desires our friendship. It is His reproach to the world, not that the Savior came to the lost, and that the lost ran from Him to lose themselves more deeply, not that the Creator came to the Creature and that the Creature rejected Him; but that the Friend "came unto His own, and that His own received Him not."