You are My friends, if you do what I command you. 14
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave
does not know what this master is doing;
but I have called you friends,
for all things that I have heard from My Father,
I have made known to you. 15 John 15: 14-15
While preparing for Sundays message, I was drawn to a portion of Jesus’ Words, in the midst of a discourse with His disciples. While speaking to them about His love for them, and his requirement/commandment to love one another, He says to them, “You are My friends…” This pronouncement of Friend was powerful, seeing as though He was their Rabbi and Teacher, not to mention the Messiah of the world. He was God in flesh, and describes His creation as “My friends”.
What a powerful moment it was. Here they are, following their teacher, listening and learning, admiring and practicing, and the one that had all wisdom and all power, knowing both their past and their future, their weaknesses, strengths and thoughts, calls them a friend. This is also before the betrayal of Judas at the Last Supper, the denials of Peter, and the Doubting of Thomas, all of which Jesus knew would come, and He opened His mouth and called them “Friend“.
This calling of friend defined an in-depth relationship between He and the twelve. He denotes this with declaring “My” which identifies them as more than just a friendly face or person, but one that He personally cared for, not just for the duplication of Disciples, but as those whose well being and destiny He cared about.
Though this is great alone, its accompanied by the following words, “…if you do what I command you“. Thus after reading this, I was bothered. This didn’t seem like much of a friendship at all. It seems as though God was hinging friendship solely on obedience to the commandments He had given them. This is understandable and justifiable for God, but for us, would constantly place us and the disciples in a relationship that was on and off. God is literally be saying I am a friend to you when you are obedient, and then when you break covenant, we are no longer friends; and then at least friendly towards each other. This of course would be of great concern to us, but if key to us in understanding what God expects of us. Obedience is a must!!!!
Friendship is a level of intimacy, built upon an authentic relationship and understanding of both parties. Much like Adam and Enoch, the disciples were able to walk to God, talk with God, learn from God, build a relationship with God, not through tablets or third party teaching. They heard directly from the mouth of God, and were able to ask questions and learn not the surface truths, but deeper truths, that revealed the character of God, His purpose and His intent. They knew God, because they literally walked and talked with Him.
Jesus continues His dialogue by making a powerful statement. He says, “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing….” This was earth shattering as a statement. Imagine being one of the disciples. You have walked with Him, leaving family, friends and career to learn from the mouth of the Master Teacher. You are considered a slave, in that you are to follow His instructions as one who is in training to become an Apostle (authoritative/representative of a Teacher/Rabbi), and then He calls you friend. He reveals that His thoughts about them have changed, because their relationship has changed.
Friend in this usage also explains his requirement to continue being obedient. This elevation is not only in relationship to their friendship, but to their calling. He makes this more clear with the statements that follow. He is not only calling them friends, but is calling them associates. They are not only ones that have learned from Him, but ones who have been trained, and are being given the ability to teach what they have learned, and walk in the power and authority that come along with it.
Jesus continues, “…for the slave does not know what his master is doing…” In this, He reveals to them that His choosing of them was not solely to keep them as slaves unto Himself. He chose them with desire to pour into them the wisdom that He had. He chose them to reveal the full truth to them. He chose them to empower them in their journey, not just with Him, but beyond His physical presence. They were not there to be groupies or a fan club. They were there to carry on beyond Him, and He believed that post His death, that they would be honored and trusted to do even greater things once He left them.
Their journey with Him was not a test, but it proved to Him who they were in relationship with Him. They have followed Him closely, obeying His instructions and following His teachings, and this dedication has proven to Him that they are more than those who gather to eat food, and be impressed by His teachings. They are not following Him simply for healing, and though they have inquired, are not solely interested in positions and power. They have walked with Him through trials and tribulations, and have trusted Him during the challenging times, and accompanied Him through hurt, harm, and danger. These 12 were truly His disciples!
Jesus paints the picture of a process with His Words. He continues saying, “...for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you…” Jesus says, the difference between their start and their beginning is what was revealed to them between. In their time together, Jesus did not withhold from them the Word from the Father. Everything God wanted to reveal to them, Jesus was obedient in teaching and preaching to them.
I find it interesting that we claim to be a friend of God in
some of our songs and in many of our messages,
but our lives don’t mirror that of those
who have been called Friends of God.
When looking at this passage, and how God described those whom He called friend, I think that we should all examine ourselves. Those that are friends have walked with God, not just for a day, and not just for years, but have walked with Him in a way that is worthy to be called sons and daughters. They not only listen, but live out His teachings, and make disciples of others. They love God with such fervor and passion, that they show it by keeping His commandments.
As should we. Being a Friend of God is not a title given to those who see God as a Genie. It is given to those who love God so intently, that they are replications of Him, dedicated to carrying His message, and determined to replicate His image on the earth through discipleship.