“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” John 15:15
Jesus spent the last three years of His life here on earth in ministry. He chose a team of men to be His disciples. These men would spend the next three years learning from the Son of God. They learned how to be true followers of God. They learned how to speak to others about God. They learned how to pray to God. They learned how to listen and obey God. They learned how to be called friends of God.
In this passage from John 15, Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He is sharing with them words of wisdom. In this passage, He shares three things about God’s promise for us to be called friends of God. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
First, in John 15:13, Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” God loved each of them (and each of us) so much that He sent His one and only Son to this earth to lay down His life for His friends (John 15:13). At the time, the disciples did not truly comprehend these words. Jesus hadn’t died yet. And even though Jesus told them He would be taking on the sins of the world and dying in order to save us, the disciples didn’t get it. They couldn’t fathom anyone being willing to die for every person on this earth. Why would someone do that? Did God really love us that much? Yes, God did! And even though they didn’t quite understand this sacrifice right then, they would come to understand and to believe. One day soon after this conversation, the light bulb would come on and they would grasp the truth and the reality of God’s love for them.
Second, Jesus says in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Now, how many of you like to hear the words, “I command you!” Not many. Really no one at all. But our relationship with God is quite different from our relationships with friends on earth. We serve a mighty God. One who is all powerful and all knowing. He knows what is best for us and it’s wise of us to listen to what He commands us to do.
In verse 14, Jesus is telling the disciples two things. In order to be called a friend of God you must listen and you must obey. God doesn’t speak to us by telling us what He wants us to do just for the fun of it. No, He speaks to us because He knows what’s best for us. We need to be good listeners and then we need to obey.
One example from the Bible that sticks out to me of someone who was chosen by God but did not listen and obey God was King Saul. He was anointed as the first king of Israel by the prophet, Samuel. But Saul had what I like to call “selective hearing”. God would speak to Saul through Samuel and Samuel would share with Saul what he was to do, but Saul only half-way listened and partially obeyed God. Once God told Saul to attack Amalek and kill everyone including the animals. Well, Saul did attack Amalek, but he let some people go free and he kept some of the best animals in order to sacrifice to the Lord. The Lord was angry for Saul’s disobedience so He rejected Saul as king. Samuel said to Saul, “Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). Because of his disobedience, Saul was not a friend of God. He did not listen and He did not obey what the Lord commanded.
The third thing Jesus spoke of is found in John 15. God no longer called them servants but friends (John 15:15). He called them friends because Jesus revealed to them everything that the Lord had spoken to Him. A true friend speaks the truth. And Jesus was a true friend to them and He definitely spoke the truth. A true friend does not hold back in sharing all they know. God was speaking to Jesus and He then passed on to His friends all that the Lord was speaking. No longer were they called servants, but they were called friends.
All of this applies to our lives today, too. This isn’t just Jesus speaking to His disciples, but this is God speaking to us and giving us a promise that we can be friends with God. In order to do this, we must believe in Jesus and what He did for us. We must also listen and obey to all that the Lord is telling us. And we must firmly realize and believe that God speaks truth to us and He will reveal Himself to those of us who seek Him.
“I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God. He calls me friend.” (Friend of God by Israel Houghton)
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the promise to be called Your friends. Open hearts of those who don’t believe and help them accept Your love and the sacrifice You made for us. Help us to listen and obey all that You ask of us. And remind us that You speak only truth and we can trust in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
- What qualities do you look for in a friend?
- What do you think of God calling you a friend?
- What can you do to strengthen your relationship with the Lord?