I Shall Call You Friends

“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.” – John 15:15

Jesus Christ, here in the middle of His final sermon to the eleven disciples, declares that they were not just under bondage to be the servants of Christ, but that they were truly the friends of Christ. It’s amazing to think that Jesus Christ would call His disciples – but in a much broader sense all of His lowly, unworthy elect that we trust to be included among– as His “friends”!

The definition of a “friend” is: “one who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity; opposed to foe or enemy.” (Webster’s 1828) What an astounding thought that Christ holds such a sincere “affection” for His elect; an affection so passionate to even to lead Him to “desire our company” and to “seek and promote our happiness”. I’m so grateful that Jesus actually desires our company and is so faithful to manifest His presence in our worship services, and we can feel such close communion and fellowship with our Friend.  Christ certainly sacrificed Himself to promote our eternal happiness, as he reconciled those who were at enmity with God.

The verse leading up to our text shows the love that Christ has towards His friends that is displayed by laying down His life for His friends: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) However, we have not always been the friend of God.  On the contrary in our fallen nature, we have absolutely no desire for God or any spiritual or upright things.  We have no desire to be the friends of God and actually are described as being “enemies” toward Christ (Rom. 5:6-10). However, Jesus Christ reconciled His elect from division and alienation into friendship with God, by His death on the cross. Jesus was accused of being the “friend of publicans and sinners” (Matt. 11:19) during His ministry. Praise God that Jesus is the Friend of sinners to save us from eternal ruin!

A true friend will not leave you or forsake you during the times of struggle and difficulty, but rather they are a source of strength and stability during those times.  “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov. 17:17) The comforting news for the child of God is that we have a devout friend who “sticks closer” to us than any natural or church brother ever could: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Prov. 18:24)  Jesus Christ has promised to never leave us and never forsake us, exhibiting His eternal fidelity towards His friends.

There’s a verse in a popular contemporary Christian song that states: “The one who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine, The God of angel armies, Is always by my side.” When we consider the eternal and truly incomprehensible majesty and glory of God, it’s absolutely astounding, and so humbling to such an unworthy sinner, that I can confidently claim the “God who reigns forever” as “a friend of mine”.  David pondered the same amazing thought that the God who created the universe which such ease and still such majesty could be mindful of such lowly creatures such as him (and me).  “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him?” (Ps. 8:3-4)  But not only is God mindful of His creatures, but the eternal Son of God has called us His friends!

Even though we have been reconciled to God and our eternal relationship with Christ is defined by His never failing friendship towards us, we still must be faithful to our Friend to enjoy the full benefits and blessing of our relationship. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14) We enjoy the blessing of our friendship with Christ if we obey His commands.  We are commanded to be friendly to others, if we desire to have friends, and the same is true of our relationship with our Friend.  “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.” (Prov. 18:24a) If we are friendly to Christ to obey His commands, we will certainly enjoy the full blessings of our friendship relationship with Christ. Furthermore, we will manifest to others our friendship with God, just as Abraham was called to be “the friend of God” (James 2:23).

What a Friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful

Who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge—

Take it to the Lord in prayer;

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer;

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,

Thou wilt find a solace there.

Originally published May 2017

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