“Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.’ Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, why have you come?’ ” (Matt. 26:48–50).
Jesus had His share of fair-weather friends. In fact, when we consider the cross, His closest friends, the ones He spent the most time with and opened up to most intimately, were really just fair-weather friends. One completely betrayed Him, another outright denied their friendship, while all the rest did their best to dissociate themselves from Him in the time of His greatest need.
Judas, after being with Jesus for three and a half years, following Him everywhere and acting like His friend, betrayed Jesus with a fake kiss. Judas had even gone out with the other disciples to preach and cast out demons. Jesus specifically addressed Judas as “friend” and received the betrayer’s kiss. Clearly Judas was not acting as a friend toward Jesus, but Jesus still cared for him as a friend. Their friendship had become murderously toxic, and yet “the Saviour did not reproach His betrayer. . . . Jesus spoke no word of condemnation. He looked pityingly . . .” (The Desire of Ages, 722).
With all good intentions, even Peter rebuked Jesus (Matt. 16:22), trying to dissuade Him from His mission. Although theirs was a truly genuine, deep, and most loving friendship, Peter’s ignorance was toxic (v. 23). Worse still, Peter denied his Friend three times. Loyalty was replaced by fear, and Peter sorrowed for his sin. Ellen G. White comments that “the Savior’s manner of dealing with Peter had a lesson for him and for his brethren. It taught them to meet the transgressor with patience, sympathy, and forgiving love. Although Peter had denied his Lord, the love which Jesus bore him never faltered” (The Desire of Ages, 815).
What stands out from Christ’s example is the importance of being a friend even when the other individual is not being one—it is selfless friendship. Sometimes friendships can become toxic, or you discover that your level of commitment to the friendship was disproportionate. Toxic friendships negatively affect our mental, emotional, social, and physical health and well-being. It may be necessary to break off the friendship for the sake of our salvation. But we have a greater chance of developing transformational friendships when we cherish a selfless spirit about our relationships.