Study 9 FRIENDS
CALLED BY A NEW NAME
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: John 15: 1-15
One of the greatest gifts that God has given to us is the gift of friendship. How great it is to have a true friend.
As Christians we rejoice in the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Saviour, is our Friend. He is the best Friend of all (Proverbs 18:24); and He is our Friend because He is first of all our Saviour. In the light of John 15:14-15, are we His friends? Undoubtedly He is a true Friend to us, but are we true friends to Him? (see James 4:4). We should be perfectly clear that in these verses in John 15 our Lord is speaking to saved men and women. In the Old Dispensation the Law said, “Do this, and live”; but under Grace the Lord says to us, “Live, and do”. We are not saved by doing, but having been saved by the Lord He says to us – John 15:14. In other words, to be a true friend of His carries the responsibility of full obedience to Him.
1. The NATURE of this Friendship
- (1) It is absolutely unique. This is not the friendship of man with man but of man with God and God with man, and therefore it is the only friendship of its kind.
- (2) How condescending it is! Think who this Friend is who wants to call us His friends! It is as though a mighty and an exalted king came to the lowest commoner in his realm and asked for his friendship, and yet it is more wonderful than even that.
- (3) It is a personal friendship. Notice the words in verse 14: “You…my…” Surely nothing could be closer than that, and the wonderful thing is that He is just as much your friend as He is my friend. So unique and so gracious is He that He can be a friend to us all at the same time.
- (4) It is constant and enduring. This Friend is always with us – compare John 13:1 with Hebrews 13:5-6.
- (5) Our Friend has done something for us to prove that He wants our friendship. We read this in verse 14, and when we remember that the Lord Jesus, the Friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19) has given His life for us out of love for us, surely we want above everything else not only to acknowledge Him as our Friend but to be in that position where He is glad to acknowledge us as His friends.
2. The PRIVILEGE of this Friendship
There are many privileges in a true friendship, but there is one very special privilege indicated here in verse 15, and it can be summed up in two words – intimate fellowship. You see, the servant is not taken into his master’s confidence; he does not know all his personal interests and plans; but with a friend it is so different. To be a friend of Jesus means to be taken into his confidence, and it therefore means to share in his trials and joys. It is a great privilege for a servant to be in the kitchen of the royal palace, but it is a far greater privilege to have an audience with the king.
Notice that Abraham is referred to again and again as “the friend of God” – look up 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23. Why is this? For the very reason that he shared the secret things of God. He was taken into God’s confidence. Look up and study Genesis 18:17-22. What a privilege!
See what Psalm 25:14 says, and notice how this very thing is illustrated in the life of Noah, to whom God revealed His plan to send judgment in the form of a flood (Genesis 6:12-13); Moses, to whom the Lord spoke many times about His plans and purposes, with and through the Children of Israel (Exodus 33:9-11); to Paul, to whom the Lord revealed so many of the ‘mysteries’ of the Gospel (Colossians 1:24-29) – and it is the same today. If we would know God’s plans for the present and for the future we must qualify for His friendship, because it is only to His friends that He reveals these things.
3. The CONDITION of this Friendship
What is it? Verse 14 tells us very clearly – “You are my friends if you do what I command.” This indicates full submission to the Lord’s authority. This Friend, who calls us His friends, is after all our Lord – look up and compare Luke 6:46 with John 2:5. Verse 14 speaks of complete and unqualified obedience. Does this mean keeping the Ten Commandments? Does this mean keeping all the commandments that are contained in the Word of God? Which ones should we keep, then? What about verses 12 and 17 in this chapter? Always remember the truth that is brought before us in 1 John 5:3.
4. The CONSTRAINT of this Friendship
The very thing that proves His friendship for us is the thing that constrains us to be His friends. What is it? Verse 13 tells us – “Greater love has no-one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Look up and compare Isaiah 53:5; Galatians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 5:14.
Real friendship must of course be mutual. That is, it must come from both sides – His side and ours. His friendship is unquestioned. What about ours?