Pastor’s Blog


Jesus only uses the word “friend” three times in Matthew.

  1. The parable of the vineyard in Matthew 20:13.
  2. The parable of the wedding banquet in 22:12-13.
  3. In Gethsemane in Matthew 26:50.

None of them describes the ideal friendship needed for a community; all of them point to one person. When we get together with friends, we usually have something in common: an area of town, common interests or work, or the phase of life we’re in. Something draws us together that creates the conditions for friendship. We support, help, and encourage each other. Or we find each other on facebook and “friend” them.

Jesus uses “friend” in an ironic way. The first “friend” thinks the master has treated his work unfairly. Someone who comes to work at the end of the day should be paid less, and the longest-serving worker should be paid more. The second “friend” doesn’t appreciate the other guests at the wedding party. He doesn’t wear a wedding garment, indicating his distaste over the celebration.

Then there’s the third friend. He’s the only named “friend” in Matthew. He seems to fit the picture of this ironic twist of friendship for Jesus. His name is Judas. Jesus addresses him as “friend” when Judas betrays him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Judas does not approve of those who have been welcomed to the celebration. He cares very little for Jesus’ grace and wants to keep it for himself. But that’s not friendship in the community of Christ followers.

Grace isn’t selective; it’s unconditional. Anyone is invited. Even when first rejected, Jesus sends servants to go find more to come and enjoy. Judas can’t stand to be in a relationship with that kind of a person. Jesus extends the greeting and kiss of community. It’s up to Judas to decide if he’s going to be “just friends.”