Loyalty is hard to come by. John the Baptist must have felt this way. Thousands came to hear him preach. Thousands sought his baptism. Herod throws him in jail and now there are very few visitors. Fickle friends. Many of those same popularity seekers were now following Jesus. What did Jesus say publicly about John?
“I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John.” Luke 7:28a NIV
Could there be any greater compliment? The best compliments come from two multipliers.#1 - What is said. #2 - Who says it. This is the greatest compliment possible. “No one greater!”
According to Jesus, why John the Baptist was the greatest:
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” Luke 7:24b NIV
“A reed swayed by the wind?” Luke 7:24c NIV
“A man dressed in fine clothes?” Luke 7:25a NIV
“What did you go out to see? A prophet?” Luke 7:26a NIV
“I will send my messenger ahead of you…” Luke 7:27a NIV
“…who will prepare your way before you.” Luke 7:27b NIV
Consider this list for a moment. Think of your relationships to your friends. Could they say the same things about you as their friend? Is this the kind of friend you would like to be to others?
A Good Friend Is One Who
#1. Recognizes ________________ as the best and only.
We see two responses to what Jesus said about John the Baptist. The first one is the response of “all the people, even the tax collectors”…
“When they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right.” 7:29
This is an example of repentance. They had just listened to Jesus tell them that they had been fickle followers. When they heard Jesus stand up for John, they admitted that they had been wrong. Someone who seeks God’s approval first and foremost is the best kind of friend to have. It’s not about perfection. It’s about being willing to listen to God’s voice.
Are you thankful that you have a friend worried more about God’s approval?
“Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed. What I want is God’s approval. Am I trying to please people? If I still wanted to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Gal. 1:10GNT/NCV
The best friends, the best partners, the best lovers, the best pastors are the ones who are more concerned with pleasing God than they are with pleasing people. You can tell the heart of someone who tells you something you need to hear (but don’t want to hear.) If it’s judgmental, no one likes or wants to be judged. But if it’s from a heart of love, then the communication will be careful, private, filled with affirmations as well.
#2. Seeks __________________ for themselves. 2nd response…
“The Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves.” Luke 7:30 NIV
The wording here is insightful. They rejected God’s purpose! If anyone should have been preparing the way for Jesus, it should have been them! But they rejected God’s purpose for their life for the substitute of what they thought, what they purposed to be right.
This is an incredibly important issue when it comes to the issue of good friends. We want friends who love God and see their own calling in relationship to God’s purpose for them.
“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT
People who trust completely in God’s plans can be so encouraging to us. Positive about our future. Hopeful.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer. 29:11 ESV
Friends who see their purpose in relationship to God’s plans for them should be the most positive friends you have. When things don’t go as well as expected, they can fall back on God’s purpose and leading in their life. Even the worst things that happen in life can be turned around by God for good for those who love God and follow His leading. Those are the kind of friends you want to have around!
#3. Experiences the _________________ in living their life.
The third thing that makes for a good friend is someone who experiences life to the max - both the good and the bad - who doesn’t hide from the tough times or always look for the coming clouds when things go well.
“They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: ‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not cry.’” Luke 7:32 NIV
Jesus is making the point that John came with strict adherence to diet and soberness and the religious leaders rejected him. Jesus came as the life of the party and they rejected him too. Remember what Jesus said in John 10:10? That Jesus came that we might have life to the full! That we might have an abundant life! Are you living your life to the full?
The best friends in life are the ones who can celebrate full on when life is worth celebrating. And also they can cry with you when your life is full of tears. Let us not stand before God someday and have this same thing said about us! Has God played his pipe for you but you didn’t dance?
#4. Understands this life _________________ their heavenly life.
We come back to Jesus’ statement about John the Baptist that no one born of a woman (that would be everyone) was as great as he was. Jesus didn’t stop there. Let’s look at the back half of that verse…
“Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:28b
The best friends in life are eternal ones! The best friends are the ones who see this life as just the beginning. … who understand that life is all about the kingdom of God!
This is a great promise - and one worth celebrating together with friends. The promise is this - we haven’t seen anything yet! The best part of life for all of us is our future! Jesus tells us the the greatest man who ever lived (John the Baptist) falls at least one notch below the least person in God’s Kingdom.