Friends of Jesus
John 15:13-15 (13) Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (14) Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (15) Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. This passage is notable in that it is the only place in Scripture where the word “friends” appears in three successive verses. Each occurrence here speaks of the simple, beautiful truth that among the various aspects of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His blood-bought band is that of friendship. Here are a few observations from this text: A truly great love is here set forth: the sacrifice of self for the welfare of others. History is replete with examples of people who put themselves in harm's way in order to protect or save someone special. It is the supreme defining act of love and those who have made such a sacrifice are truly heroes. It was “for his great love wherewith he loved us” (EPH 2:4) that Jesus was wounded in the house of His friends (ZEC 13:6) and died for our sins. The depth and greatness of Jesus' love for us is magnified by the fact that He was and is so much more of a Friend to us than we are to Him. We have too often offended Him, denied Him, dishonored Him and hardened ourselves against Him. With friends like us, who needs enemies? That is what we were by nature, alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works (COL 1:21). But He had already taken our sin-cursed nature and pathetic performance into account, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (ROM 5:10). Whereas Jesus' death for us was not conditioned upon our performance, His practical recognition of us as His friends is certainly so: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Believers who define their existence by the preferences, praises and pleasures of this world hardly qualify as Jesus' friends: “...know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (JAM 4:4). Mind that Jesus is making it clear that being a friend to Him is directly related to obeying His commandments. So also is qualified one's love for Jesus: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (JOH 14:15). Let us not pretend to love Jesus or be His friend by openly disregarding His commandments or substituting our own ideas for His commandments. That Christ should henceforth (From this time forth; from now onwards) call them not servants accords well with His great example of condescension in washing their feet (JOH 13:1-17). It is also in keeping with His very mission: “...not to be ministered unto, but to minister...” (MAT 20:28): “...I am among you as he that serveth” (LUK 22:27). The phrase, “...for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth:...” is noteworthy. Under the law covenant, the church was as a servant (GAL 4:1-3) and was accordingly under a dispensation of relative secrecy and darkness (ROM 16:25; EPH 3:4-5; 2PE 1:19, etc.). But with His coming, the veil of shadows was being lifted and these men became the first beneficiaries of light that previous generations had not seen: “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them” (MAT 13:16-17). Indeed, Christ now called them friends “...for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (JOH 15:15) and He would shortly by His Spirit teach them all things (JOH 14:26) and guide them into all truth (JOH 16:13). These “friends” would be then fully privy to what Christ had heard of the Father and made known unto them. One does not normally divulge to a servant details that would be reserved to the peculiar privilege of a friend. Believers on this side of the cross should account themselves very blessed: blessed to walk in the knowledge of completed redemption, blessed to be freed from the futility and bondage of the law covenant, blessed to know that death has been conquered, blessed to be no more as a servant kept in the dark, blessed to have a way opened up into the holiest of all by His blood (HEB 10:19-20) that we may boldly approach the throne of One Who was touched with the feeling of our infirmities (HEB 4:15-16). What a friend we have in Jesus.