ODJ: dangerous friends

August 30, 2015 

READ: Matthew 22:1-14 

Friend, . . . how is it that you are here without wedding clothes? (v.12).

One of our sons has endured bullies on his school bus. Two weeks ago, he walked into the kitchen after school and with a quivering lip said, “I don’t want to ride the bus anymore.” It’s been hard for him to learn how to protect himself while also staying open to forgiveness (if the bullies show repentance) and the possibility of extending friendship to them.

In a parable, Jesus presents God as One who extends friendship even to those who are against Him. “The Kingdom of Heaven,” He said, “can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son” (Matthew 22:2). Jesus then said that none of the invitees came! So the king had his servants hit the streets to invite all who would come, from the riffraff to the town’s elite.

The story takes a strange turn, however. The king spots a guest who wasn’t dressed for the occasion. It’s likely that the guest had refused the clothes the king made available to all in attendance. “Friend,” the king said, “how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?” (v.12).

This word for friend (literally “companion”) is intriguing because it’s used only two other times in Scripture—for the vineyard workers who bore ill will against the vineyard owner who represented God (20:13) and for Judas who betrayed Jesus to His murderers (26:50). These ‘friends’ are ones who genuine friendship was extended to, but who didn’t reciprocate. Instead, evil was done against the ones extending friendship. Those are dangerous friends to have!

The scandal of God’s friendship is how it extends even to those who will reject Him. Jesus, the friend of sinners, lived this out and taught us to love everyone—even our enemies (5:44, 11:19).

—Winn Collier

365-day-plan: John 12:20-36

Read Matthew 5:43-48 and consider what it means to love as Jesus loves. 
How do you normally respond to those who bully you or treat you unkindly? What can you apply from Jesus’ words and example to love your enemies?