Prayer: Ask God to open your eyes to behold wonderful things from His word. Ask Him to give you a renewed understanding of His love for you and commitment to do you good.
Text: John 15:12–17
“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. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
There are many images used to describe our relationship to God after being united to Christ through faith: we are members of His body, we are His adopted children, we are the bride of Christ, etc. But one of the most amazing descriptions that doesn’t get as much “air time” is “friend”.
Perhaps we steer clear of “friend” because of the tendency for such language to conjure images in our minds of a “more-human-than-divine” God than a majestic, transcendent God or because friendships can carry so much baggage in our lives, humanly speaking.
Regardless of why we may shy away from this concept, we are missing out on a glorious truth if we ignore this: Jesus has befriended us! He has called us His friends. When we think about the hostility we had toward Him in our rebellion and sin, and His righteous hostility toward us in His majesty and holiness, we should be floored that we could ever be anything other than enemies!
So, okay, maybe we can believe that God would take us out of the “enemy” category, and allow us to be at least like a hired hand or a servant, as was the expectation of the Prodigal. But what does the text say? “No longer do I call you servants...but I have called you friends.” We aren’t just brought into the house, but kept away from the intimacy of the Master. We are brought near, into His very confidence, indeed, into the important, eternal work of the Master. This is an unimaginable privilege. We are brought into the plans and work of the God of the universe!
How did this happen? Simple. He chose us. He chose to befriend us. Christ laid down His life for us to free us from our bondage to sin and to rescue us from the wrath of God. There is no better friend than this. He didn’t just save our physical lives in the “here and now”, like a heroic act in combat, as amazing as that would have been. By His life, death, and resurrection, He saved us in the most important and enduring way, and has given us new, eternal life! Having reconciled us to Himself, He enlists us to join His work and empowers us to bear much fruit for His kingdom and glory. And He sticks with us through it all, and sees us through to the end.
What does this mean? We have a loving, accepting, powerful, sovereign, good, holy, and faithful Friend at all times and in every circumstance. Regardless of where we’re at, we can go to Him and find help and grace in our time of need. We have a refuge from the storm. He will comfort us in our affliction and discipline us in our sin. He will restore us when we are weary. He will never forsake us. Jesus has already given His life for us, so we know He is willing to give us everything else we need.
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.
For Thought/Discussion:

Do you think of Jesus as your personal, intimate friend? Why or why not?

How does thinking of Jesus as your friend influence the way you approach Him? How does it influence the way you pray or worship through singing?

What is the connection between Jesus befriending us and our relationships with others? What effect should His friendship have on our relationships?

What do we learn about friendship by considering Jesus’ friendship? What does it look like to be a good friend?

Where have you failed to love others and to be a good friend? What should you do about it?

Pray: Thank God for befriending you in Jesus. Take time to praise Him for rescuing you and bringing you near. Rehearse all of the benefits of being God’s friend. Ask Him to help you to love others in a Christ-like way. Confess ways you have been unloving, and ask for grace to change. Repent and receive afresh His forgiveness and restoration.

Cornerstone Church of Knoxville