What a friend we have in Jesus

July 18, 2021 Speaker: Ted Detiveaux Series: Hymns of Summer

Topic: Relationship With God Scripture: John 15:14– :17

What a Friend we have in Jesus


Joseph Medlicott Scriven* (1819-1886)


  • He was an Irish immigrant who lived in Ontario, Canada.


  • In 1843 a year after he graduated trinity college, his fiancée accidentally drowned, the night before they were to be married.
  • In 1855 He received news from Ireland that his mother was terribly ill. He wrote this poem which then became a hymn to comfort her. Scriven did not intent for his poem to be published in the newspaper nor become a favorite hymn among millions of Christians around the world.
  • About 1857 he moved near to Port Hope, Ontariowhere he again fell in love and was due to be married, but in August 1860 his fiancée suddenly fell ill of pneumonia and died.
  • He then devoted the rest of his life to tutoring, preaching and helping others.
  • Scriven drowned in 1886 at age 66. It isn't known if his death was an accident or a suicide, as he was in a serious depression at the time.

It is possible that with all he endured that he lost sight of the fact that Jesus was his friend during that trying time.  But regardless the poem that he penned as an encouragement to his mother, is founded in truth that is applicable to our lives today.

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer


Have you ever been in a situation in which you needed a friend?  You needed someone to hear your heart, or bounce ideas off, or perhaps you were in a rough spot in which you just needed the warm embrace a friend offers. 


Have you had the opportunity to be a friend to someone who was going through a rough patch in their life?


Can we consider Jesus to be that kind of friend to us?


After all Jesus is God who became flesh and walked among us.  He was in the beginning with God and all things were made through Him.


John 1:1-3


1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 


Is it possible for a person to be a friend of God?

If so, what qualifies a person to be a friend of God?

What does being a friend of God look like in our everyday lives?


I would say with an emphatic Yes! It is possible to be a friend of Jesus and not only is it possible He desires such friendship.


You may ask, Isn’t He our king, shouldn’t we submit to His rule and reign over our lives?  Would being a friend of Jesus diminish the glory of His kingship.  Being that we are sinners, and He is a Holy God. 


On the contrary God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that our relationship with God would be restored. He desires friendship with us.  At the same time, we are to submit to Him as our Kings.  So therefore, He is both a King and a friend.  We see this displayed wonderfully in:


John 15:14-17


14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 


Friends- philos Personal attachment to an individual due to mutual interests or arising from close intimacy or acquaintance.


So if we used the definition in place of the word friend it would read something like:

You are personally attached to Jesus, and thereby have the same interest and keep His commandments because you are in close friendship with Him


In this first verse we see both His kingship as well as His friendship.  His kingship is displayed in the fact that He expects us to follow His commands.  That word “if” implies the opposite is true as well, if we don’t obey His commands then we are no friend of God.


His friendship is guaranteed by His statement that “you are my friends if you obey.”  He declares us as His friends.  As believers we are friends of God. 


When we see Friendship throughout the Bible it emphasizes the relationship that exists between God and man.  One friendship stands out and that is the friendship between David and Jonathon.


Jonathon was King Saul’s son and next in line for the throne as king of Israel.  David and Jonathan were best of friends.  Whenever it was revealed that David was to take king Saul’s place as king instead of his son Jonathon, that is when Saul became jealous and angry with David and tried to kill him on several accounts.  But Jonathon had David’s back.  He protected David from Saul’s wrath multiple times.


Jonathon had recognized that God had called David to be King in his place, and he accepted God’s plan for his life.  From this story we learn about the closeness that Jonathon had David as well as the reverence he had for him as the soon to be king.


As Christians we are called to submit to Christ as our King, and at the same time experience the closeness He offers as a friend. No other religion offers what Jesus does.


15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 


Servant- doulos- a slave, bondman, man of servile condition;


He considers us friends and He has not held back anything that is needed for our salvation as well as our spiritual growth.


Consider how he is the greatest friend to sinners. He draws us near to Himself while we are still sinners, He gives us grace and he remains committed to us even in our stumbling. He loves us to the very end.


16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.


He has proven to be a friend like no other as He has demonstrated a love like no other.


John 15:13


13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 


This is exactly what Jesus did for us.  He laid down His life for us and He calls us His friends.  If you don’t have any friends, you have the greatest friend of all. His name is Jesus. 


He is a friend of sinners.  He draws near to us and stands at the door of our hearts knocking, wanting us to let Him in.  Because if we let Him in, He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He will stand by you; He will be with you, and He is committed to you.  He is for you not against you.


What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear


What He has done on the cross of calvary has ended the hostility that existed between us and God.


Ephesians 2:14-16


14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 


For us believers, there is no more hostility between us and God. Because there is no more hostility the bible says


Hebrews 4:16

6 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


That’s where we get the next part of the hymn:


What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer



As a believer, there is no more hostility between you and God, you are a friend of God, You have access to God by praying through Christ Jesus.


Because Jesus willingly laid down His life for His friends we should willingly lay down our lives in submission to His rule over our lives.


Furthermore, one more important thing that we can learn from our passage in


John 15:16-17


16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.


The friendship originates with Him and not us. He chose us! 


Does anyone know what it is like to be picked dead last on a team of some sort?

Before the foundation of the world was made Jesus picked you for friendship.  You did not choose Jesus, He chose you!


There is a purpose in His choosing, He chose you to bear fruit!  You can only bear fruit of that which you are connected to.  A branch that is connected to an apple tree will likely bear apples and not apricots.  If you are connected with the wrong peoplethen you not bear the fruit that Jesus intended. 


Jesus describes himself as the vine, and that as long as we are connected to the vine we will bear much fruit.  The idea is that Jesus was a friend to us so that we can be like Him and be a friend to others.  To demonstrate the same grace and love which He has given us.


Jon Bloom –


We are never more spiritually healthy than when we not just know about, but really know by experience, the profound love and acceptance of our heavenly Father.


And when we are unsure of his love and acceptance, or reject it as being either unreal or beyond our reach, we look for substitutes to fill the void of God’s friendship. But these substitutes only do damage to us and others — and still leave us with the aching void.


In the absence of God’s friendship — and the ocean depth of love, purity, peace, and security it provided — evil began to grow and take root in the human soul. As people’s identity became increasingly unhinged from God, they became increasingly and profoundly selfish, insecure, fearful, and indulgent.


We were created to experience friendship with God.  Friendship with God is the most satisfying thing that we can experience here on earth. There is nothing else that will fill that void in our lives.  In fact apart from friendship with God we become increasingly selfish and evil.


What a friend we have in Jesus - All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry - Everything to God in prayer

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