You are my friends. – John 15:15
1 Samuel 2:30 I will honor those who honor me
Friends is an American television sitcom that aired on NBC for 10 seasons from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004. It was one of the most popular television shows of all time. The finale was watched by 52.5 million American viewers. In a 1997 episode, Phoebe used the term BFF. She then had to explain the meaning of the acronym: “best friends forever.” Although the concept of having or being a “best friend” is ageless, the abbreviation BFF is an efficient abbreviation for the digital age of texting, tweeting, etc.
A BFF is someone’s close friend if not best friend. Such a relationship is characterized by trust, loyalty, and permanence. Interestingly, the term BFF does not necessarily presuppose exclusivity. An individual may have more than one BFF, but not concurrently.
The Lord Jesus Christ makes an astounding announcement. It is so remarkable and unexpected that most who read John 15:15 do not realize the significance. This is true even of commentators. Many simply skip over it. This fantastic truth is one of those things it is almost too good to be true.
The Lord Jesus Christ says to His apostles, “you are my friends.” Pause for a moment and think about what that means. He is calling every one of them His friend. They are all His BFF simultaneously. His friendship is not subject to the limitations of human social networks. By extension, each child of the King is also His friend.
Is this going too far? Consider the context of the statement.
John 15:13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
The Lord Jesus Christ has unequivocally stated that the greatest act of love possible is for one to lay down one’s life for their friends. Who then are His friends?
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
“Jesus explicitly identified his disciples as his friends (for whom he gave his life): You are my friends. Abraham and Moses were described as ‘friends of God’ (Exodus 33:11; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23) and Jesus spoke of his disciples in the same way” (Kruse).
Let that sink in. The Lord Jesus Christ called His disciples, His “friends.” How can we be sure? He provides supporting evidence. He chose to lay down His life for them because they were His friends. He disclosed the secrets of heaven to them because they were His friends, not His servants.
And how do His friends demonstrate that they are faithful friends? They do what He commands.
REFLECT & PRAY
“God is our Friend through Christ. In fact, friendship began within God. It’s who God is – Father, Son, and Spirit in eternal, powerful interactions of love. The heart of God is friendship reaching out” (Ortlund).
Father thank You that You chose me and made me Your friend and that You have become my Best Friend Forever too.
The Lord Jesus Christ is just like the Father. They beckon and welcome all to come to Them. The Father does not reveal Himself to us in the Scriptures as a stern, distant, reluctant parent. Rather He is more like a loving, kind, welcoming grandparent. You know the kind. They invite their grandchildren to run to them and jump on their lap and smother them with hugs.
Many see the Father as a harsh, vindictive, draconian judge waiting to draconian judge waiting to harangue and punish his children, rather than welcome them. How sad! Reflect on the following argument from silence. “The disciples are called Jesus’ friends (John 11:11; 15:13–15), Jesus is never called their friend. This is because the nature of their friendship is not mutual in the same way as human friendships usually are. On Jesus’ side, it involved giving commands, and on the disciples’ side, it involved obedience” (Kruse). Where does it say that the Scriptures? Could this conceptualization be an unwarranted extrapolation without merit lacking scriptural support?
Friendship, even friendship with the Father, the Lord God Almighty, and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ is by its nature reciprocal. Putting it in other terms the Father and the Son are BFFs with every child of the King.
Making it personal, all children of the King have the right and privilege to say, “the Father is my friend,” and “The Son, the Lord Jesus Christ is my friend.”
The Greek word translated friend is philos. A friend, a philos, is beloved, dear, and close companion. The Father has chosen us to be His beloved, dear, close companions, and Best Friends Forever. The Lord Jesus Christ called us His friends and such we are.
John 15:16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you.
There’s a tremendous difference between being a slave, and a friend. The Lord Jesus Christ has chosen to call us slaves or servants no longer. He now calls us His friends. Because that is exactly what we are. He doesn’t just call us friends; He treats us as friends.
John 15:15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
In the first century Roman culture, slaves were thought of as little more than objects. “A slave was defined in Greek law as a living tool” (Barclay). Even Aristotle put slaves on the same level as inanimate objects – agricultural implements” (Hughes). “The bondservant might be loved by the master, and might be treated kindly; but he never would be regarded as an equal nor given an insight into the master’s mind. He would be expected to obey without knowing the reason why” (Tenney). For slaves, it was none of their business.
The Lord Jesus Christ took His disciples into His confidence. He opened and revealed His heart to them. He shared with them the secrets of heaven. He offered them full transparency.
Do you view yourself as a reluctant servant who submits only when it suits you? Or are you an intimate close friend who loves to be with Him and serve Him? How can you tell if your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is a true friendship?
Here are some questions to help you to evaluate your relationship. Do you know what He desires and commands? Do you know what He has said? Have you committed His words and other scriptures to memory and hidden them in your heart? Do you know what He desires for people, for you? Do you know His plans for the future? Do you know how He thinks? Do you know what He would do in various situations?
Who does not need to have close friends and a BFF? Who does not need someone with whom they can reveal their most intimate, personal feelings without fear of condemnation, repercussion, or disclosure? What better friend could we have than Lord Jesus Christ?