Friends — what would we do without them? Thank God for those people who love us, take care of us, have fun with us, laugh with us (and cry with us). But we all have some “friends” who have proven not to be true. Some are people who simply aren’t as close as they once were, maybe put in our lives out of convenience or proximity or common circumstances for a time. Some have betrayed and wounded us. There are many good friends out there, yet as much as the good ones enrich our lives, other friends have also brought drama and frustration and pain. Friends come and friends go, and if we’re very lucky, we have a handful of people who stay in our lives for a long, long time.

But listen to this. A single word leapt off the page at me as I read Matthew 26: 49-51. Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

How amazing is this? How did I miss this oh-so-important word every other time  I read this? As Judas was in the process of actively betraying Jesus in the Garden, as he was offering him to the guards for money, Jesus referred to Judas as friend. He didn’t call him by name. He didn’t call him traitor or betrayor, although He would have been justified to do so. In spite of what Judas did, Jesus called him friend. It doesn’t matter that we are not perfect. We don’t have to have done all the right things. All that matters is that He is Who He is and that His heart is full of love. He is a Friend like no other, a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Our relationship with Jesus little to do with the state of our hearts, and everything to do with the state of His heart. This friendship is not dependent on our actions or motives, nor is it destroyed by betrayal; it’s all about His love for us.

Next time you feel alone, next time you want someone to talk to, remember this amazing truth: You are a friend of God.