Pentecostal Sermons & Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

"My Buddy Jesus"? Please, NO!

Summary:  I’ve heard expressions like “my buddy Jesus” or [sic] “Me and Jesus got a good thing going.” Please, do NOT lower Jesus to our level with casual words like those to describe the Lord of all, the Possessor of all authority in heaven and on earth. One day, after Christ’s Second Coming, every knee from all history, willingly or unwillingly, will bow the knee to Him and confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Do that now, daily, in your thoughts, deeds, and words. Don’t think of Him or speak of Him as a “buddy” or casual friend, but regard Him as the apostle Thomas cried out to Him when He saw the resurrected Savior: “My Lord and my God!”
 

God —> “a Servant” —> Highly Exalted as “Lord”

Philippians 2:5-11 speaks of Jesus “being in very nature God” (vs. 6; also John 1:1). Yet for our sakes and our salvation from our sins, He “made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being found in human likeness” (7). To take upon Himself our sins, Jesus submitted Himself to death on a cross (8). Jesus, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah chapters 52-53, redeemed us from eternal damnation by dying on the cross for our sins, being buried, and rising again from the dead.

The result? The apostle Paul tells us that “God highly exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:9-11). The Lord Jesus, not “my buddy” Jesus!

Looking ahead to His coming death on the cross, Jesus had anticipated His subsequent return to heavenly glory:  “And now, Father, glorify Me along with Yourself and restore Me to such majesty and honor in Your presence as I had with You before the world existed” (John 17:5, Amplified Classic) This is the Jesus we serve today — the glorified Savior, the Lord, exalted to the highest place by God the Father. This is not someone we should trivialize with terms like “my buddy.”

First: “a Servant”

Jesus’ incarnation (John 1:1,14) was necessary for Him to secure our salvation. He left heaven for earth, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, taking on the nature of a servant (Phil. 2:7). While on earth He ministered willingly to mankind in a serving capacity. He said of Himself, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He said to His disciples, “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). In Isaiah 42:1 we see Jesus spoken of prophetically by God as “my servant” who would have the Holy Spirit upon Him and would bring justice to the nations. The Son of God from heaven took upon Himself a human body and nature and served the billions who have populated the earth by dying for our sins and rising again to return to heaven as the victorious Savior and Lord. And that salvation is available to all who will call upon Jesus in faith and repentance for sin.

Death, Burial, Resurrection, Ascension —> Highly Exalted as “Lord”

Now to our main point. Jesus sacrificially served us by His death, burial, and resurrection. So we can now call upon Him for eternal life. He has ascended back to heaven and sits at God the Father’s right hand. How should we now regard Him?

I recently did an exhaustive study, in the King James Version of the Bible, of every occurrence of the words “servant/serve” and any other forms of the word. The results were illuminating. After His death and resurrection, not one time does the KJV Bible call Jesus a “servant” towards us (or any form of the word). Not once. After His resurrection from the dead He was consistently called our “Lord.”

In John 20:28 we see Thomas, one of the 12 apostles, seeing Jesus for the first time after His resurrection. Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

In Matthew 28:19, after His resurrection, we read that Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” God the Father has given all authority to His Son.

In Acts 2:32-33, 36, NKJV we read Peter’s great Day of Pentecost sermon. Peter said this about Jesus: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear… [36] Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” In Acts 10:36, NKJV Peter further declares: “Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all.”

The apostle Paul, in Colossians 1:18-19; 2:9  forcefully declared Jesus’ absolute supremacy and fullness of Deity — “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him… [2:9] For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”

Many more examples could be given, but these clearly suffice to show that the post-resurrection Christ was consistently referred to in Scripture as “Lord,” even “Lord of all.” His followers and the New Testament writers never minimized who He is or how we should relate to or speak of the resurrected, ascended Lord Jesus Christ.

Putting “Friend” and “Lord” in Biblical Perspective

Sometimes Christians misread one specific statement of Jesus and — usually conscientiously, I believe — come to a wrong conclusion. And that can lead to an unfortunately casual outlook towards our Lord and Savior. Yes, Jesus did say to His disciples at the Last Supper (John 15:15), “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends...”

Frequent misunderstanding #1 is that, yes, Jesus called them friends. But never in the entire rest of the New Testament do His disciples in turn refer to Him as “friend,” but rather “Lord,” and themselves as His servants. A few cases in point: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus” (Romans 1:1) … “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1) … “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1) … “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1) … “from Jesus Christ…to His servant John” (Revelation 1:1). These men — John, Peter, Paul, James, Jude — are some of the early heroes of our faith. Some of them had even heard Jesus’ words, “I have called you friends.” I’m confident that they were greatly honored by the Lord’s loving words. Yet their universal reaction was to continue to relate to Jesus as His servants.

Frequent misunderstanding #2 of Jesus calling them friends is this: in the previous verse (John 15:14) the Lord had said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” This was far from a coequal, buddy-buddy friendship. It was a sovereign Lord/obedient disciple friendship, in which the Lord and Master Jesus is always in command. The disciples fully understood this and continued to call Jesus “Lord” and themselves His obedient servants throughout the rest of the New Testament.

A Final Thought on John, “the Disciple That Jesus Loved”

The apostle John was an inner-circle disciple of Jesus during His earthly ministry. Along with Peter and James, John often accompanied Jesus in situations where even the other 9 apostles did not. He was very close on a personal level to the incarnate Savior. Many scholars believe that this verse refers to John: “One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to Him” (John 13:23). It seems that of all the disciples, John had the very closest relationship with Jesus. There was, of course, great honor and respect from John to Jesus. But at the same time John had a warmth and closeness with Jesus that would allow him to recline comfortably at the table right next to Him. Now let’s take a look at this same John many years later. Jesus had long since returned to heaven, and the elderly John was in exile for his faith on the island of Patmos. Take a few moments to read and ponder the verse just below, and especially note John’s reaction upon seeing the risen, ascended, and glorified Jesus.

Revelation 1:9-18   I, John … [10] on the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet … [12] I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

While Jesus walked the earth in His 3+ years of public ministry, John had a warm, relaxed, always respectful relationship with Him. By spectacular contrast, when the now-ascended, glorified Jesus appeared to John decades later on the island of Patmos, the sight caused this same John to faint away and fall “as though dead.” Read again the Revelation’s description (above) of Jesus as He is now, having returned to His pre-incarnate glory in heaven. His eyes were like blazing fire. He held 7 stars in His right hand. His face was like the sun shining brilliantly! The glory, the splendor, of the glorified Lord Jesus was enough to overcome John.

And it should be enough to overcome us today — overcome us with awe, with thankfulness, with worship, and with obedient servants’ hearts toward our magnificent Lord, Jesus Christ. He served us in His earthly ministry and in His death and resurrection for our salvation. Let us now serve Him with the utmost of honor, respect, obedience, and worship now and for all eternity. Our praise should echo that of the millions encircling the Lamb of God and the throne of God in heaven: “Worthy is the Lamb [Jesus], who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! … To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12f).

The occupants of heaven worshipfully fulfill the words of Jesus, “that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” (John 5:23, TLB). That is the highest, and much deserved, level of regard for Jesus Christ. Our relationship to Him should never be undervalued or (God forbid) trivialized. Rather, let us always hold Jesus in the highest honor, “just as [we] honor the Father.”


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©2020, James H. Feeney.
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Pentecostal Sermons &
Bible Studies by
Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.