What does it mean to be Jesus’ friend? Is every believer a friend to Jesus? Is Jesus’ idea of friendship the same as the modern one?
The answers to these questions might surprise you. They might even shock you.
We find the answers in something Jesus said to the eleven apostles (Judas had left at this point):
“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:14-15).
In this passage, we learn five important truths about friendship with Jesus.
First, friendship with Jesus is conditional. “You are My friends if…” Friendship is not automatic. It doesn’t come as a free gift. You need to do something to be Jesus’ friend.
Second, friendship with Jesus depends on obeying His commands. Friendship is earned. You have to do what Jesus says to be His friend. Do you usually think of your friends as people who obey whatever you command? Probably not! That should give you a clue that Jesus is not talking about the modern concept of friendship.
Third, friendship with Jesus still means He is our Master. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing.” Unlike slaves, we know what our Master is doing. In other words, He is still our Master. Friendship does not change that. We are not “pals” with Jesus. It is a hierarchical relationship.
Fourth, friendship with Jesus means having intimate knowledge of His plans. Jesus tells His friends what the Father has told Him: “for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” The difference between being a slave and being a friend comes down to a difference in knowledge. Jesus’ friends know His mind.
Fifth, this friendship is mission-oriented. Being friends with Jesus is not about spending leisure time with Him. It’s about being in a position to carry out Jesus’ plans with the benefit of inside information. It means achieving greater intimacy with Him through service to Him. This friendship is costly.
We know that whoever believes in Jesus’ name becomes an adopted child of God (John 1:12). But I’ve heard it said that one loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives. What are you to Jesus—a mere relative, or more than that, a loyal friend?