A Contemporary Model: Jesus As Friend -- By: JoAnn Ford Watson

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 18:0 (NA 1985)
Article: A Contemporary Model: Jesus As Friend
Author: JoAnn Ford Watson


A Contemporary Model: Jesus As Friend

JoAnn Ford Watson

For Christianity, the discipline of theology seeks to articulate concepts of Jesus Christ which will be understandable to the contemporary church and world. Theology engages various tools which give concrete ways of expressing the being of Christ by bringing to light an aspect of Christ’s person which can speak to us today. It is a rediscovery of language and expressions for Christ which can have significant meaning for us today. One such tool is a model or paradigm. A model is an exemplary or figurative way of describing Christ.

This essay will offer a discussion of a contemporary model for Jesus, the model of Jesus as Friend, as it comes to us from the modern theologians, Jürgen Moltmann and Sallie McFague. First, we will define the Model of Jesus as Friend; second, explain this model for human relationships; and third, give an interpretation of this model for the contemporary life of the Church.

The Model of Jesus as Friend

The model of Jesus as Friend defines Jesus as one who offers affirmation of humanity as he works to bring about relationships which are characterized by mutuality and friendship in divine love and freedom — Jesus as Friend is a parable of God as Friend. Jesus as Friend is One who identifies with humanity in its suffering and joins with humanity in mutual empowering of persons to bring about a better existence.

Jürgen Moltmann discusses this concept of Jesus as Friend. For Moltmann, Jesus illustrated friendship in his life and thus Jesus is a Friend to humanity. Moltmann reinterprets the traditional offices of Christ as prophet, priest and king in terms of Jesus’ friendship. As a prophet, Jesus brings the gospel of the Kingdom to the poor and becomes the friend of tax-collectors and sinners. As the high priest, he offers himself “for many” and consummates his love by dying as a friend for a friend. As the exalted Lord, he liberates humanity from its bondage and allows for humanity to be friends for others. As the one who is glorified, he intercedes with the Father for the world. In Jesus’ name, friendship with God is possible through prayer.1

For Moltmann, the many-faceted work of Christ, which in the doctrine of Christ’s three-fold office was presented in terms of sovereignty and function, can be taken to its highest point in his friendship. The joy which Christ communicates and the freedom which he brings as prophet,

priest and king find better expression in the concept of friendship than in the ancient titles. Moltmann states, “For in his divine function as prophet, priest and king, Christ lives and ...

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