“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:12-15
In the entire Old Testament, only two men were ever referred to as a friend of God: Abraham and Moses. They enjoyed a close relationship with the Lord, and he revealed himself to them in unique and special ways. The children of Israel feared that kind of revelation. Remember how they trembled as Moses prepared to ascend Mt. Sinai and meet with the Lord (Exodus 19:16)? When Moses descended the mountain after forty days and nights, his face was shining so brightly that the people were terrified. They were afraid to see God face-to-face, or even to look upon his reflected glory (Exodus 34:30). While the Israelites were children of God, they were not called friends of God. The Lord did not reveal himself to them, but rather spoke through Moses, his mediator.
As Jesus speaks these words to his disciples, he is preparing them for his betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection. Jesus knows that he will love these disciples all the way to the cross and beyond. And he calls them to demonstrate the same kind of love for the Father, the Son, and for the children of God. Jesus did not simply profess his love; he lived it, and he died for it. We too are called to sacrificial love. Most of us will not be asked to surrender our lives, but rather our time, talents, and treasure. It might mean laying down our agenda or setting aside our pride to serve someone in need. That was the kind of love Jesus exemplified on the cross, and it is the kind of love that he called his followers to mirror.
In experiencing and living into this kind of love, the disciples would not only be called servants and children of God, but also friends. A friend was one who knew Jesus, who knew his love and the plans that he had for them. They had lived with Jesus and received his revelation. Jesus entrusted them with his words, his Spirit, and his kingdom. What an amazing gift! And he offers it to us, just as he did the disciples.
We are now the friends of Jesus. I am awed by that thought. We can barely get a tour of the White House or a glimpse of the president, yet the sovereign Lord calls us his friends. God knows us, he loves us, and he longs for us to live in an intimate, ongoing relationship with him. There is no greater honor than to be called a friend of God! May we be faithful friends who abide, love sacrificially, and obey the will of God.
Reflect & Respond:
Have you considered the honor of being called God’s friend? What would the Lord want you to know about your friendship with him today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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