More than any other social media outlet, Facebook has stretched our understanding of the word friend. A recent check shows that I have 643 friends. My friend Tom has 1,811 friends. And Cheryl has 2,328 friends. Really?! I can’t imagine that Tom, Cheryl, and I have ongoing and meaningful connection to these hundreds of people, much less that we can really place how we know each and every one of them! In today’s passage, Jesus calls us “friend.” Let’s see if we can look beyond the lens of 21st century cultural interpretations of friend to discover the richness of this relationship believers have with their Savior.
- What does being called a friend of God conjure up in your mind? Does it mean that you don’t have to be formal: for example, praying using thee and thou? Is Jesus our buddy?
READ THE WORD: JOHN 15:1-17 (ESV)
15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 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. 16 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. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 12-17. Verses 1-11 were covered previously.)
- With which command does Jesus begin and end the passage?
- What does Jesus say is a hallmark of great love?
- Why does Jesus now call us friends? What’s the difference between a servant relationship and a friendship?
- Why did Jesus choose us? What are we to do?
- We love because he loved us first. How does reflecting on Jesus’ love for you propel and compel you to love others?
RESPOND TO GOD
Because we are friends with God, we must love one another. If we want to live out this responsibility and reap the benefits of being his friend, we must abide in him. For apart from him, we can do nothing. He is the one who chose us, disclosed his heart to us, and he sends us out to bear fruit. Friendship with God is less about being informal and more about intimacy. It’s a relationship marked by love, obedience, revelation, and mission. It is a privileged relationship, but also a purposeful one. What an honor to be on such intimate terms with our Savior. From that reservoir and relationship, we are to love one another.
- Pray that you would be compelled by Jesus’ love for you to obey his commands and to love others.