“I have called you Friends”

by   Steven Chan

In John 15:13-15, Jesus addressed His disciples as His friends and He explained what is meant by that friendship:-

 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

  1. According to Jesus, a friend is one who has your well-being at heart and will do what is best for you even if that requires him to sacrifice himself.

The virtues of friendship is discussed in the Bible, such as in Prov 17:9, the Bible says: “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.”

This does not mean that a friend should engage in covering up the wrong-doings of his friends, and thereby encouraging/allowing his friends to continue to do that which is wrong. It contemplates the situation where a friend committed a wrong-doing (for instance, a personal offence) and has repented from it or has expressed repentance from it, then such matters ought not to be spread far and wide so as to tarnish a friend’s good name. It ought not to be repeated as that would eventually result in destroying friendship (especially friendship among brethren).

No man or woman is perfect. James 3:2 says: “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”

So, when a friend “stumbles” in any way, let’s help to correct him in gentleness (Gal 6:1;2:13-14) and not ignore his transgression as that would lead him to death (James 5:19-20). The Bible says in Prov 27:5-6: “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” One should not withhold speaking the truth in love just for fear of jeopardising a friendship as Paul wrote in Gal 4:16: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”

But once the matter has been resolved, one should not continue to harp on the matter. In Prov 16:28, the Bible says: “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.” A friend will endeavour not to cause situations that will strain relationships between friends. Friendship between husbands and wives will be preserved when both are determined to practise this important principle.

  1. Jesus said also that “you are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”

Many seek to be “friends” with Jesus but they do not share the same commitment to the truth as Jesus did. The terms for friendship with Jesus is that one must do what He commands. He said that He will give the ultimate sacrifice for His friends; in return He asked that those who wish to be His friends do what He has commanded.

One has to choose his friends carefully. We cannot be friends with everybody. In James 4:4, the Bible warns: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” We cannot choose to be a friend of the world as well as being a friend of God. There’s no “win-win” situation here– regardless of what some may say. The Bible warns in I Cor 15:33: “Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”” But someone may retort: but Jesus was a friend of sinners! (Matt 11:19). We must note that Jesus did not say that He was a “friend of sinners”; this was the allegation by His detractors when they saw Him eating with sinners (Matt 9:11). His reply was that He ate with them because He came to call sinners to repentance as they were the ones needing spiritual healing. So when He ate in the home of Zacchaeus, the latter was so “affected” by the grace of Jesus that he repented (Luke 19:8) –showing that “mercy triumphs over judgement” (James 2:13b). Rather than compromising the walk in truth and acquiescing to sinners continuing in their sins, Jesus said to them as He said to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more”(John 8:11). In Eph 5:11, the Bible exhorts us: “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son for their salvation (John 3:16); but they are His friends only if they do what He says. Are we truly friends of God?

  1. Jesus said to His disciples that He considers them as “friends” because He has shared with them all that is FatherHis Father His Father has told Him: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Jesus opened His heart to His friends. He told them all that had been revealed to Him by His Father. Implicitly, He was declaring to them that He trusted them with all that had been entrusted to Him by His Father. Such openness and transparency are hall marks of true friendships as exemplified by the apostle Paul in 2 Cor 6:11-13: “We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.” Do we know what Jesus has revealed to us? Do we share with our friends what Jesus has shared with us?

Are we truly friends of Jesus? Are we trying to be friends of the world as well as being friends with God?