Jesus as our friend, we as modern day disciples
In John 15:15-16 we read these words of Jesus, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” This is a very challenging text. How can we be friends as modern-day disciples, when his own disciples couldn’t live up to his words?
His disciple Judas betrays Jesus to the religious authorities which leads to his death. One of his closest disciples, Peter, denies he knows Jesus three times (Luke 24:54-62). At their Passover celebration, just a few hours before, Peter had promised to die with Jesus if necessary. Another disciple, Thomas, doubts that he is risen from the dead even though he told all his disciples many times that is what would happen after he died. The rest of the disciples flee after his arrest, trying to escape the trouble knowing him will bring. These are the faithful disciples Jesus called his friends.
After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead things started changing in a dramatic fashion. The disciples were filled with courage just as they were filled with the Holy Spirit. With boldness they proclaimed the resurrection of their Lord, with no fear of the personal cost they must pay. They started acting like they were indeed Jesus’ friend.
A look at the disciple death toll reveals the truth of their friendship, as they lived out Jesus’ words we find in the same text, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” The first deacon and martyr, Stephen, was stoned to death for preaching Jesus. While he died, he prayed for forgiveness for the stone throwers forever transforming our faith into a faith that rejects the seeking of revenge for the deaths of our followers.
James, the first of the twelve disciples to die a martyr’s death was beheaded by Herod Agrippa. On his way to his death he converted his jailer who was executed with him. According to tradition, Peter was crucified upside down on a cross in Rome, believing himself unworthy to die as his Lord.
What changed to inspire frightened disciples who could only call him rabbi, to courageous martyrs who called Jesus friend? Think about your experiences with your spouse, children, family, friends, and colleagues.
What makes your friendships complete? Does your friendship run so deep that you would give your life for them if you had to?
German theologian, Jurgen Moltmann, writes that the marks of a deep and lasting friendship are affection with respect, affection with loyalty, and affection with freedom. I think this is another way of describing the most important ingredient in a relationship, trust. Without trust a marriage has little hope for it will be difficult to develop mutual respect. Without trust friends cannot develop loyalty. With trust marriage is one of our greatest gifts. With trust friends inspire us to do anything for the other.
When the disciples trusted Jesus they finally believed him. They believed who he said he was, the son of God. They believed who he said God was, the loving father. They believed who he said they were, his friends, and they were ready to give up their lives for him if that is what their friendship with the Messiah, the son of God should mean.
It takes time to develop that kind of trust. It takes time seeing the miracles of God. It takes time to pray. Prayer needs to include quiet time with God when we tell God everything, and listen for God’s gentle whisper to our soul to tell us about his love and his perfect will for our lives.
It is time well spent as we learn to trust in the son of God to be our best friend. Think about the best friends in your life. What makes those friendships important? What role does trust have in the strength of those friendships? Do you trust Jesus Christ enough to be his friend?
Do you love him? Talk about these questions with a friend you trust and see if you don’t come closer to Jesus and to your friend.
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.com.