Jesus's Greatest Miracle

Andrew Bunt 7 months ago
Blog 3 mins
Found in: Family & Friends

I love a good meme. I sort of hate to admit it. I guess it makes me a typical millennial, but I confess I do.

There’s a meme about Jesus that sometimes does the rounds. It features a picture of Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper and is accompanied by the words ‘No one talks about Jesus’s greatest miracle… having twelve close friends in his 30s’.

Like all memes, it’s meant to be funny, and I confess, it made me chuckle when I first saw it. But I think it’s actually surprisingly profound. It makes some true observations and a really good point.

Jesus was a man of friendship.

This meme observes that Jesus was a man of friendship, which he really was. Read the gospels, and you’ll find that Jesus had friends all over the place – people like Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany (John 11). The years of his life that we read about in the gospels were shared in particular with twelve friends, and within that group there seem to have been three with whom he was especially close – Peter, James and John (Mark 9:2; 14:33). Jesus taught about friendship – the friendship we share with him as his followers (John 15:15) and our friendships with each other (John 15:12-13). And people who were around Jesus during his ministry identified him as a man of friendship; it actually seems to have been something people used against him: ‘a friend of tax collectors and sinners’ (Luke 7:34). This meme rightly observes that Jesus was a man of friendship.

But it also rightly notes that we don’t tend to talk about that. How many times have you heard Jesus’s friendships talked about in a sermon? (How many times have you heard a sermon on friendship at all?) How many conversations have you had about Jesus’s teaching or example of friendship? How often do you think of Jesus as a man of friendship? Despite the fact friendship was clearly a prominent feature in Jesus’s life on earth, it’s not something we tend to talk about. The meme gets that right too.

And the comedy of the meme is rooted in a sad reality. Many of us reach our early 30s and find we don’t have any real friends. We may have a load of online contacts; we probably have plenty of acquaintances through work, our local community or church, but we have few true friends. The idea of someone in their early 30s holding down multiple close friendships is comical to us because it’s so rare. This is an area of life in which many followers of Jesus don’t look much like Jesus.

Maybe we need to recognise and reclaim the fact that Jesus was a man of friendship.

So maybe there’s something for us to learn from this meme. Maybe we need to recognise and reclaim the fact that Jesus was a man of friendship. He told us and demonstrated to us the importance of friendship and the blessing it can be in our lives. Maybe we need to start talking more about Jesus as a man of friendship. Reminding each other, exhorting each other to follow his example and heed his teaching. And maybe we need to work harder at developing and deepening meaningful friendships whatever our age.

I’d like to see a day when we no longer find that meme funny, a day when it doesn’t make sense anymore because close friendships in our 30s (or 40s or 50s or beyond) aren’t unusual and aren’t almost miraculous, they’re just normal. I’d like to see a day when we recognise Jesus as a man of friendship and his followers are recognised as the same.