Jesus taught and modeled the importance of healthy relationships among Christians. Seldom was Jesus alone in His ministry as He called several to be His disciples and follow Him (Matthew 4:19). Jesus ate with others (Luke 10:38-42), prayed with others (Luke 9:28), and did ministry with others (Luke 8:1-3). There were times in Jesus’ ministry where He was alone (Luke 4:1-2; Matthew 4:1-13), but Jesus knew the importance of doing life with others and setting an example for the coming church. While there are many more reasons, here are nine instances Jesus shows us the importance of relationships.
1. Jesus said when two or more are gathered in His name, He was with them (Matthew 18:20). Jesus was showing us we not only should remember to focus on Him when we are gathered with others, but that we should gather specifically to focus on Him. Jesus isn’t an “Oh, by the way”, He’s the very reason we are to gather.
2. Jesus sent His disciples out to do ministry together. Luke 10:1-2 shows Jesus pairing up His followers to travel together as they served Him. Think about the encouragement and companionship they gave one another as they followed their calling. Jesus showed us ministry was meant to be done together, not alone.
3. Jesus showed us loving God included loving others. Matthew 22:34-40 shows us we are to love God with everything we are and have and then extend that love to others. Loving God and people are married and we must not divorce them. Loving God and others is so important that Jesus said it as a command, not a suggestion.
4. Jesus taught us how to love our friends sacrificially. In John 15:12-15, Jesus said we should love others like He loves us! How much more plain could He be? He then said to sacrificially lay down your life for your friends like He would. He said relationships are about friendships, not what we can get from one another (servants). He even said friends tell their friends what God is saying to them. True friends talk about Jesus.
5. Jesus served others before serving Himself. He put their needs first. Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist had just been murdered and a crowd was following Him as He grieved. Instead of sending them away, He fed them (Matthew 14:13-21)! What a giving example of how to love others even in the difficulties of life!
6. Jesus treated His disciples as family. Once, when Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived, He said those who did God’s will were His mother, brother, and sister (Mark 3:31-35). Jesus taught us that church is family. After all, the bible calls believers brothers and sisters. We are children of God!
7. Jesus knew the importance of sharing a meal with others. Let’s face it, we love to eat! One of the most intimate things we can do is share a meal with others. Jesus showed us how to do this with people that don’t like us (Luke 7:36), and those others don’t like (Mark 2:13-17), and those we like (John 12:2). Eating a meal with others breaks down walls and builds friendships.
8. Jesus went after those who walked away from their relationship. When Peter left the ministry (John 21:15-17), Jesus pursued him, ate a meal he cooked with him, and gave him fresh vision for life. Jesus was truly an unconditional friend that loved through the ups and downs of life. Peter was too valuable to just let go.
9. Jesus comforted His friends. In times of uncertainty, Jesus told His friends about a peace that only He could give (John 14:27). When our hearts are heavy, our burdens are wearisome, and our anxiety is high, we must learn to comfort each other by giving one another the peace of Jesus.
Of course, we cannot leave out the greatest gift Jesus gave us. Jesus gave Himself as a substitute for our sin, something we could never do personally for our friends. However, if they are truly our friends, we must give them the gospel, the good news of Jesus’ atonement for our sin. He died in our place, resurrected from the grave, and gives all who call on His name the joy of salvation. What a friend we have in Jesus!