“Many are the friends of the rich person,” wrote wise King Solomon. (Prov. 14:20) That observation sums up the tendency of imperfect humans to form friendships based on what they can receive rather than on what they can give. Jesus displayed no such weakness. He was not swayed by a person’s financial or social status. True, Jesus felt love for a rich young ruler and invited him to be his follower. However, Jesus directed that man to sell what he had and give to the poor. (Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18, 23) Jesus was known, not for his connections to the wealthy and prominent, but for befriending the lowly and despised.—Matt. 11:19.
Certainly, Jesus’ friends were flawed individuals. Peter on occasion failed to view matters from a spiritual perspective. (Matt. 16:21-23) James and John showed an ambitious spirit when they asked that Jesus give them prominent positions in the Kingdom. Their action incensed the other apostles, and the issue of prominence was an ongoing cause of contention. Jesus, however, patiently tried to correct the thinking of his friends and did not easily become exasperated with them.—Matt. 20:20-28.
Jesus did not remain friends with these imperfect men because he was overly indulgent or blind to their imperfections. Rather, he chose to focus on their good intentions and positive qualities. For example, Peter, James, and John fell asleep instead of supporting Jesus through his most trying hour. Jesus was understandably disappointed in them. Even so, he saw that their motives were good, saying: “The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.”—Matt. 26:41.
In contrast, Jesus ended his friendship with Judas Iscariot. Even though Judas maintained the outward appearance of friendship, Jesus detected that this former close companion had allowed his heart to be corrupted. Because Judas had become a friend of the world, he had made himself an enemy of God. (Jas. 4:4) Therefore, Jesus had already dismissed Judas when He declared His friendship with the remaining 11 faithful apostles.—John 13:21-35.
Jesus looked past the faults of his loyal friends and acted in their best interests. For instance, he prayed for his Father to protect them during their trials. (Read John 17:11.) Jesus showed consideration for their physical limitations. (Mark 6:30-32) And he was interested not just in telling them what he thought but also in hearing and understanding what they thought and felt.—Matt. 16:13-16; 17:24-26.
Jesus both lived and died for his friends. True, he knew that he must offer his life as a legal requirement to satisfy his Father’s standard of justice. (Matt. 26:27, 28; Heb. 9:22, 28) But Jesus gave his life as an expression of love. “No one has love greater than this,” said Jesus, “that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.”—John 15:13.