Who is the one person in the world you would most like to know? Who is the one person you would most like to be friends with? Maybe its someone at school, or maybe you would like to become best friends with a sports star, a famous footballer or an Oscar winning actress. Or maybe you would really like to get to know the Queen, the Prime Minister or a character from TV?
- Paul wanted to know Jesus
In our Bible reading this morning, the apostle Paul tells us the name of the person he most wants to be friends with. The person Paul really wants to get to know better is Jesus Christ (v.10). Paul says there is “nothing greater” than knowing Jesus (v.8).
Paul saw Jesus once, and it changed his life forever. One day Paul was travelling on the road to Damascus, when a bright light shone around him. Paul realised he was in the presence of someone very special, someone more powerful than the Prime Minister and even more dazzling to look at than an Oscar winning actress. A person Paul thought was dead, but had actually come back to life. That person was Jesus, and after meeting him Paul spent the rest of his life getting to know Jesus better and telling other people all about him.
After his Damascus encounter, Paul spoke to other people who had met Jesus. And he discovered more and more astonishing things about him. Amazing things he had to tell others about. For example, Paul discovered that Jesus:
- Had performed amazing miracles, like feeding 5000 people & turning water into wine.
- He learnt that Jesus had been able to heal the sick and give sight to the blind.
- Paul found out that Jesus had been able to calm a storm, and walk on water.
- Paul also found out that Jesus had taught with amazing authority and love. Jesus had even gone around telling people that he was God’s Son, sent into our world to save us from our sin.
After learning all this about Jesus, its no surprise that Paul wanted to know Jesus more and more. What an amazing friend to have. How amazing to know someone who is a miracle-worker, a great teacher, and alive forevermore! That’s why Paul wrote that there is nothing greater than knowing Jesus. That’s why Paul wanted Jesus to be his best friend.
- Paul gave up everything to be friends with Jesus
How much you would be willing to give up to be friends with someone famous? What would you be prepared to do to become best friends with someone really secial? For example, would you be willing to spend all your money to meet your hero or heroine face to face? Would you empty your piggy bank to buy a ticket to visit the Queen or fly to see a Hollywood film star? Would you even risk losing some of your other friends in order to become friends with that one special person?
In our passage this morning, the apostle Paul tells us that he is willing to give up everything to be a friend of Jesus. Paul realised that knowing Jesus is so special, so valuable, that everything else is worthless in comparison. Listen again to what Paul wrote: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (v.8-9).
Paul had to give up a lot to be a friend of Jesus. Just before our reading today, Paul lists some of the things he sacrificed to become a friend of Christ:
- Paul used to be popular with really religious people, called Pharisees, because he used to perform all the same rituals as them, follow the same strict rule, wear the same special clothes and eat certain foods. But after meeting Jesus he realised that those things aren’t as important as knowing Jesus and telling others about him. Paul’s religious friends didn’t like that, and they didn’t like Paul anymore.
- Paul used to be popular with other people in his country of Israel. Paul was once a proud Jew, who believed that they alone were God’s people. But now Paul believed that anyone who was a friend of Jesus could become one of God’s people too.
So by becoming a friend of Jesus, Paul became really unpopular with other people. They put him in prison. They beat him up. They even sent him away from his home country to Rome. But Paul didn’t care, because he valued Jesus more highly than his reputation, his comfort or anything else.
- Paul knew Jesus could give him righteousness and resurrection
Imagine you did manage to become friends with a famous person. What would you expect them to do for you?
- If you were friends with Lewis Hamilton perhaps he’d let you ride in his fast car.
- If you were friends with footballers like Stephen Gerrard or Wayne Rooney they might give you their autograph.
- And girls, if you were friends with a famous actress she might let you wear some of her glamorous dresses.
- And if you were friends with the Queen or Prime Minster, you might get a tour of Buckingham Palace or even Downing Street.
But what did Paul want from Jesus? Why did Paul so want to be Jesus’ friend? He tells us in our passage today.
- Firstly, Paul wants Jesus to give him “righteousness” (v9). He wanted Jesus to make him right with God. He knew that only Jesus could give him the forgiveness from God we all need. Forgiveness for everything we have ever done wrong.
- Secondly, Paul says he wants to know “the power of Jesus’ resurrection” and to experience “the resurrection from the dead” (v.10-11). Paul wants the same power that Jesus himself experienced when he rose from the dead on Easter day. Paul wants Jesus to give him enough power to live for God and do what is right. Paul also knows that Jesus can give him resurrection life. Jesus has promised all his friends life that lasts forever. Never-ending life in a perfect world. Wow!
Whoever we are, we really need righteousness and resurrection - forgiveness from sin and life forever. And Jesus offers us both for free, if we simply put our faith in him.
Conclusion – get to know Jesus for yourself!
As I finish, can I ask us all to have the same ambition as the apostle Paul? Can I encourage us all to put Jesus first in our lives. Can I encourage us all to try and know Jesus better? We can do that by speaking to him in prayer, reading about him in the Bible, and learning about him here at church.
Paul discovered that Jesus is the most amazing and important person ever. The one person we really need to know. Because if we are friends with Jesus he can give us forgiveness for our past wrongs, power today to do what is right, and future life in a wonderful world to come. He can give us righteousness and resurrection. Jesus really is the best friend anyone can ever have!