God’s desire to be known as a father and to demonstrate that fatherhood experientially toward His own continues to break through into our understanding. Jesus, both Son of God and Son of Man, is becoming increasingly more human, entering our darkness and human struggle as a genuine human person. The Holy Spirit is presenting both Jesus and the Father as more available, up close, and personal! “You search the Scripture,” Jesus says to the Jews, “but you will not come to Me!” (John 5:39-40)
Within this increasingly relational context, we have recently experienced an insightful understanding of the word friendship as presented both in the Old and the New Testament. How many times have we read John 15? Let’s listen to it from the Message. Note the somewhat more relational translation of the author’s intent:
I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things, I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father (John 15:9-15).
Jesus is saying, “If you desire to become my friend, like I am a friend to God the Father (John 5:20 Greek), it signifies the necessity for you to transcend the privilege of having things always go your own way and identify with me in my purpose to please God the Father.” Observe the sequence in Luke:
And you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin. Now I confer on you the royal authority my Father conferred on me so you can eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and be strengthened as you take up responsibilities among the congregations of God’s people (Luke 22:28-30, The Message).
My response was, “Jesus, I should like very much to be your friend.” Out of this came an insight that has strengthened me greatly. I heard the Lord say: “My friends can injure me and my Father more than my enemies.” The idea of sticking with Him, through thick and thin became both a joy and a challenge. Suddenly, abiding and faithfulness, became relational and not doctrinal.
Carefully, now, we apply the biblical sequence. Simon, you need to be careful, for Satan has desired to sift you like wheat! Jesus’ friend, Peter, came close to injuring Jesus as his friend. The other one, that seemed to leap off the page was Judas, betrayed Jesus with a kiss. (Luke 22:47). The word “kiss” is the same Greek word for friend.
The equipment we need to do this is stated clearly in the John 15 passage. It is both beautiful and workable: “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.” The Joy of the Lord is presented as the strength needed for us to be and become His friend!
Abraham was God’s friend. Moses was God’s friend. Jesus was God’s friend. We are admonished to walk in the steps of Abraham, honor Moses, and follow Jesus. This challenge is both relational and adds responsibility. The grammar of this rather astonishing invitation goes like this: I cease calling you servants. I now desire to call you my friends.(John 15:15)
Come, my friend, take up your added responsibilities among God’s people.