One of the most amazing statements Jesus ever made to His disciples was that they were graduating from simply being His servants to being considered as His friends. Imagine that—being friends with Jesus.
This was amazing for His disciples because of who Jesus was. He was not only their Master but also the Son of God. He made them. He sustained them by His word of power. He was about to offer His life to save them. He was to judge them and allot them their places in eternity. Yet here He was calling them His friends.
This is the relationship that Jesus wants to have with each one of us as Christians. He wants us to have a friendship with Him. However, it is obvious that there are conditions to fulfill in order to have this relationship with Him. We see this in the words He spoke to the disciples.
Jesus said to them: “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” (John 15:14–15).
It is evident from the words of Jesus that friendship with Him is based on our spontaneous, joyful, and consistent obedience to His commands. He says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” This is not referring to obedience in one area of life, but a life of comprehensive, principled obedience.
Although at the point of our conversion we are delivered from a life of sin, we are still largely ignorant of how to live out our Christian lives to God’s glory. We do not know the Master’s good, acceptable, and perfect will (Rom. 12:2). Hence, we are like servants who must wait for specific instructions before doing the Master’s will. Jesus says that as long as we are in that state we are not yet His friends. Ignorance of His ways prevents us from an intimate friendship.
However, the church is an educational institution, teaching believers to observe everything that Jesus has commanded (Matt. 28:19). Jesus wants each believer to know everything He has heard from the Father, which He makes known to us in His Word. Like the early disciples, therefore, we must commit ourselves to the Apostles’ teachings in order to know the whole counsel of God (Acts 2:42; 20:27).
As we experience an informed mind and transformed heart through this regular teaching ministry, the Holy Spirit leads us to spontaneously and joyfully deal with life’s situations as Jesus Himself would handle them. His values become our values. Thus, we live on earth in fellowship with Him as His friends. The hymn writer Joseph Ludgate expresses this marvelous wonder:
Friendship with Jesus!
O what blessed, sweet communion!
Jesus is a Friend of mine.