How would you measure friendship? By the number of likes you get on Facebook, followers you have on twitter or number of friend requests? People can have hundreds of contacts through social media but still never experience the depth of genuine friendship. The real measure of friendship is sacrifice. How much will a real friend sacrifice for you or you for them? Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) He was only days away from doing just that on a hill outside of Jerusalem. Jesus had been with His disciples for three incredible years of ministry. They had seen Him raise the dead, give sight to the blind, heal the lame and deliver troubled souls from Satan’s grip. They followed Jesus, traveled with Him and learned from Him as He taught. He was their Master and Lord. Yet, listen to what Jesus says to them on the eve of His arrest. “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.” (Vs. 15) Jesus wants to take their relationship to a new level, beyond a student/teacher relationship. He wants them to experience friendship with God. As if being a servant of such a loving Savior wasn’t enough, Jesus calls us friends!
Are you a friend of God? Abraham was called the friend of God simply because he believed God. The Bible says, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.” (James 2:23 NLT) Friendship with God is based on faith and obedience. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14 NIV) Friendship with God is more intimate and closer than any other on earth. It’s the greatest love of all! Jesus describes it as vital as the connection of a branch to the vine. Just as a branch sustains its life by remaining connected to the vine, so our friendship flourishes as we abide in Jesus. Friends spend time together. They talk to each other and care about one another. They trust one another. Jesus said, “… everything that I learned from My Father, I have made known to you.” That’s what real friends do. What a friend we have in Jesus! I love the words one song writer wrote:
“I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus
Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true;
I would tell you how He changed my life completely
He did something that no other friend could do.
No one ever cared for me like Jesus,
There’s no other friend so kind as He;
No one else could take the sin and darkness from me
O how much He cared for me!”
Bible Reading: John 14:1-31 (NIV)
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.
12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–
17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.
26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me,
31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. “Come now; let us leave.
Bible Reading: John 15:1-27 (NIV)
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 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.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
17 This is my command: Love each other.
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.
23 He who hates me hates my Father as well.
24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.
25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
26 “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.
27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
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