What a Friend We Have in Jesus
|John 15 (NKJV™)|
|12||"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.|
|13||"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.|
|14||"You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.|
|15||"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.|
|16||"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.|
|17||"These things I command you, that you love one another.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
We can get through almost anything in life with friends to share our sorrow and divide our grief. A Chinese word for friend is peng-yu and it has a much fuller meaning than in English. It means "one who brings completion and sums up beauty." The ancient Hebrews saw true friendship as an ideal to pursue and a blessing to enjoy. In these final moments with His followers, Jesus uses a most tender term for their relationship—they were friends! What does that friendship look like?
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Greek terms: Τίθημι; tithémi - ordain for a very special purpose
Figures Referenced: Joseph Scriven; Eliza Roche; Mariah Carey; C. H. Spurgeon
Publications Referenced: What a Friend We Have in Jesus, by Joseph Scriven
Cross References: Proverbs 17:17; Matthew 13:10-11; Mark 16:15; Luke 8:10; Luke 10:22-24; John 4:34-36; Acts 20:27; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 1:4; James 4:4; Hebrews 9:22; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:19; Revelation 14:13
Let's turn on our Bibles this morning to John Chapter 15. Let's settle in. Cell phones off, Bibles open, hearts tuned into God and see what the Lord may want to speak to us. Let's pray.
Lord, we love the way Paul put it when he said that we present our bodies to you as living sacrifices, and so here we are. Our bodies are here. We have gotten up of bed. We've come in our vehicles. We've parked. We've entered this building. We're sitting here, Lord, because we want to hear a word from you. We present our bodies, our minds, our very spirit to you Lord. We pray that you would speak and that you would reveal to us deeper what our relationship to you is like. We know that we're your children. We know that we're the sheep of your pasture. We know that we're servants of the Most High God, but here we understand, today we understand, in this passage we understand that we are your friends. Help us to understand how great that is and what that means. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Back in 1855, a man by the name of Joseph Scriven wrote a poem for his mother who was living in Ireland. He had been from Ireland. He was now living in Canada. He wrote a poem to his mom to encourage his mom. It wasn't a song, but it became a song. It was simply a poem, you know it, "What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and grieves to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer." Now you've sang that as have I. But knowing the story behind it will help I think in whenever you sing it again, they'll understand the real depth of meaning behind it.
You see, Joseph Scriven was himself born in Ireland and fell in love. When he was 25 years old, he met a young lady and was engaged to her. And as the relationship developed and they were planning their wedding, they were so excited. But the day before the wedding, a tragedy happened and that girl died in a drowning accident one day before the wedding. He was broken hearted, and Joseph Scriven got on a boat, left Ireland, and went to Canada to heal from that experience and eventually, met another young lady by the name of Eliza Roach. He fell in love with Eliza, they got engaged, and seemingly as providence would have it, she came down with an illness and she died also before the wedding.
His heart was devastated. He never did marry his entire life. He stayed single. He devoted his life to preaching the Gospel and to showing compassion to those whose hearts were broken and who needed a friend. At the very same time or around the same time that his fiancé number two Eliza Roach died, word came to him that his mother in Ireland was sick and on her deathbed. He couldn't afford to get on a boat and go back to Ireland so he wrote the poem -- song.
In that second verse is so pointed especially coming from his own lips, "Have we trials and temptation? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer." It's one thing if somebody who never suffered wrote that song, but coming from his own life makes those words even more powerful, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."
What is a friend? If you're to look up the word in a Webster's dictionary as I did this week, you would discover that the definitions in the dictionary are very inadequate. Definition number one: A friend is someone attached to someone else by esteem or affection. Okay, definition number two: Someone who is not hostile. In other words, the opposite of a friend is an enemy.
I think we can do a lot better than that. I've always loved the definition that came in a British newspaper years ago. This newspaper gave a cash price for anyone who could write in with the best definition of a friend. Thousands of entries were submitted. Typical ones like, "A friend is one who multiplies joy and divides grief," or "A friend is someone who understands our silence," or "A friend is a volume of sympathy wrapped in a cloth, or "A friend is a watch that ever beats and never runs out."
But the definition that won the prize for this English publication was this: A friend is someone who comes in when the rest of the world goes out. What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
Proverbs 17 says that, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." But you really know who your friends are when you are in adversity, right? They either come. They show up. They rise to the surface or where so and so. I thought they were my friend.
Would you agree with the statement that we have many acquaintances but few friends? I think that's true. You might know a lot of people as acquaintances but to be given the designation of a friend, you've got to be a special person because you're not going to just pour out your heart with anybody, right? It has to be a special person, very few friends.
What do you want in a friend? What's a good friend like? A survey was given to 40,000 Americans and they discovered the qualities most Americans want in friends -- listen to this lineup: Number one, the ability to keep a confidence. In other words, not a gossip, somebody who will zip the lip when needed. Number two, someone who is loyal. And number three, someone who's warm and affectionate. That's interesting. That's not number one, that was number three -- ability to keep a confidence, loyalty and then warmth and affection.
This morning in John Chapter 15, we look at a very special friendship. It's the friendship that Jesus has with His own. Now keep in mind the context, there's 11 disciples Jesus is walking with. Remember the story? Chapter 14 Jesus said, "Arise, let us go from here." They're in the upper room. They've had the Last Supper. He gets up from the supper. They walked out of the room. They're walking toward the Garden of Gethsemane. And somewhere along the road, Jesus speaks to them, Chapter 15 and 16 and we'll pray in Chapter 17 in the Garden of Gethsemane.
One of his friends, so-called Judas Iscariot, is no longer with them. At this very moment, he's perpetrating the betrayal of Jesus Christ. So these remaining 11, these are the good branches as opposed to the dead branch that bore no fruit, really, and that's Judas. These are the abiding branches. These are the fruitful branches. And to them, Jesus gives a special designation. Let's read it in its context beginning in Verse 12 of Chapter 15. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, and to lay down ones life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a friend does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends for all the things I heard from my Father, I've made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit; that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another."
So in looking at these verses, let's consider the kind of friendship that Jesus has with us and we can have with Him, and those are the basic two things we want to look at. We want to look at how good of a friend Jesus is to us and then finally, what kind of a friend are we to Him. So there are few things I want you to know based on this text: Number one, Jesus picks His friends. That seems legitimate, right? He has that prerogative, we would imagine. He would be able to choose whoever He wants as His friends.
Look at Verse 16 more carefully, "You did not choose me, but I chose you." Stop right there. Now, this is different in human friendship because in human friendship, there is a commonality and a mutuality about our friendships. We choose each other. Actually, if you ever encounter someone, there are three possibilities, three things that could happen, and only one would result in friendship.
Option number one, you meet a person and you're hanging around, you talk to the person, and you don't like that person. And that person doesn't care much for you. Are you going to be friends with that person? No. You might be polite and "Thank you very much" and dismiss it, but you'll never be friends. Option number two, you meet someone. You like them. They don't like you. You're probably not going to be friends. Option number three, you meet someone. You're fond of them. They're fond of you. You both invest in that and friendship will develop overtime and be nurtured. What's interesting here is that it seems to be at least at first unilateral.
Jesus say, "You didn't choose me, I chose you." Now, that to me is so significant that I want just a few minutes to unpack the meaning of that for us. For Jesus to say, "You didn't choose me, but I chose you," reveals some things. First of all, it speaks to us about His position -- that Jesus is so important and so high in rank that He can have this prerogative of choice. I'll give you an example. If you ever met a very famous person, a great person, a very wealthy person, you know that people like that tend to be very careful about who they allow into their circle of friends, right? They just don't allow anyone, because there are lots of people with ulterior motives that would want to take advantage of that relationship. So they're very slow to allow friends around them.
In fact, I would even say that people who are that great have the prerogative. You won't only be their friends if they invite you in to their circle. I was watching a show sometime back. I think it was called "Cribs" or "Famous People's Cribs". It's about their home where they live. It showed the home of Mariah Carrey. It was "Mariah's Crib", her home. It was a beautiful home. And she went through every room, every level of every room, every building of that house. It was a massive mansion, "And that's what we do here and my friends do this here." Then she showed one lower room. It was beautiful, but it was the lower room. She goes, "This is reserved for people who aren't as closer friends. They get to be in this room, but no other room." So she was obviously in control of the relationships that she allows in that house, in her life.
Here is Jesus who allows us to be friends, makes the choice by virtue of His position. He says in 1 John Chapter 4, "We love Him because He first loved us." That's why we're friends. He first loved us. He by His position invited us closer. It tells us something else. Number two, it tells us not just about His position, but His election. He chose us. Verse 16, "You did not choose me, I chose you."
Now, go over to Verse 19. Look at that one, "If you were of this world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you." Now, we're speaking about election, predestination, and I personally have no problem with the doctrine of election or predestination that God in advance chooses those to be saved. I know a lot of people struggle with that. To me, it's not a struggle. Ephesians 1 tells us that you are chosen, we are chosen, predestined in Christ before the foundation of the world. It's His election of us.
So God chose people to be saved. Now you might, in-hearing that, say, "I believe that, Skip, but I have a problem whenever you call people forward in an ultra call." I've had people tell me that. They don't like ultra calls. So why do you ask people to come forward and choose Christ? Here's why: Because are true. He chooses us and we cooperate with His choice by choosing Him. He involves Himself in our human volition. You know what it's like? It's like a rope.
There's a drowning man in a body of water. In the lake, he's drowning. A rope gets thrown to him. Will the rope save him? No. The rope by itself won't save him. He has to do what? Grab a hold to the rope. But even that's not enough. The presence of a rope and the man grabs a hold of the rope, will that save him? No. There has to be somebody on the shore pulling him, pulling that rope to safety. So, put those together. God by predestination throws the rope. By election, draws the rope. We by our own volition, grab a hold of the rope. Both are true. He has chosen us. This is Divine Election.
Now, it could be then in hearing that, maybe it's the first time you've ever heard something like that. You might even be an unbeliever and you hear that God chooses people to be saved and you're thinking, "Boy, that's not fair, because what if He didn't choose me to be saved?" Well, I can prove to you that He did. At the end of this service, you come and give your life to Christ and I'll show you that you were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the Earth. "Oh, I don't know if I want to do that. What if I'm not ready?" Okay. Well, maybe you weren't chosen. "Well, that's not fair." Well then come and choose Christ. You'll discover that the choice has been made. It's like the old analogy of the man seeing a sign on the door that says, "Whosoever will, let them come." He opens the door, the doors closes behind him. The sign on the back of the door says, "Chosen in Christ before the foundations of the Earth."
So this tells us of His position. It tells is of His Election. There's something else this Jesus picking of His friends shows us. It shows us His affection, His love. I want you to think about this: God knew all about you before He chose you and He still chose you. Did you get that? He knew all about your weaknesses. He knew all about your mistakes. He knew all about your habits. He knows all the dumb things we do and think and He chose you anyway. Chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world, that's affection, that's love.
Charles Spurgeon used to say, "It's a good thing that God picked me before I was born. He never would have picked me after I was born." Of course he didn't really believe that. That was his way of saying, "The love of God is so amazing that knowing all that I am and all of my mistakes, He would pick me anyway." May I ask you a question, when Jesus picked His 12 disciples, did He understand what they were going to do to Him? Do you think He understood all that was going to happen? You bet He did. Did He know that Peter was going to deny Him? And did Jesus know that Thomas was going to doubt Him? Yup. And did he know that James and John would say, "Lord, let me just kill these Samaritans. Call down fire from Heaven and smoke them." Did He know that violence was in them? Yup, He picked them anyway. It speaks of His affection.
One of my favorite stories is the story of a huge block of marble that was cut out of a quarry in Carrara, Italy where all of the ancient statues, the marble for the statues was hewn and typically brought to the great artist for them to make something. And this stone was cut out. It was a massive block of marble and it was taken to Florence, Italy where the masters live. Artist after artist viewed that block of marble that sat in the churchyard week after week. And all of them rejected that block of marble.
For example, Donatello, the great sculptor, looked at it and said, "I don't want it," because there was a crack in it, there was a flaw that ran through the marble. And one after another rejected the flawed marble until one artist came by and he smiled and he got really excited and he said, "There's an angel trapped inside and I'm going to set it free." That man was Michaelangelo.
For two years, he worked on that flawed block of marble and brought forth, after two years on January 25, 1504 what is called his greatest work ever, the Statue of David which still adorns the courtyards of Florence, Italy. That's affection. That's how God looks at us. God looks at your life, sees the flaw and says, "Yeah, I know. But there's something trapped in there. I'm going to release it. I'm going to work on that person. I'm going to make them useful."
So here's Jesus picking His friends. "You didn't choose me, I chose you," speaks of His position, speaks of His election, speaks of His affection, and finally the fourth thing it does, it speaks to us of His intention.
Now, listen carefully, God has an intention, a purpose for your life now, a job for you to do. I want you to look at the second important word in that sentence, Verse 16, "You did not chose me, but I chose you," and what? Appointed – it's a very, very important word. It's the Greek word "Titheme". It means to select, appoint, ordain for a very special purpose.
So the first part, "I have chosen you out of the world," that's salvation. The second word, "Ordained" that's service. First, salvation and then comes service, "I chose you, I ordained you." But keep going, look what it says, "You didn't choose me, I chose you and appointed you that you should--" what's the next word? I want to hear it from everybody -- go. Stop there.
I love this. It's so good. "I've chosen you and I've specially ordained you that you should go." Listen, God never selects any Christian to stop. "I picked you to stop right there. Go no further." There's motion implied here. He didn't want us to just sit around, look at each other, sing a few songs, just watch life go on. He said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
So here's the pattern and this is so important. I just don't want anybody to miss it. This is what He does: Jesus picks friends, calls them out of the world, saves them and then sends them right back in the world, because now they have the world with all to do, something about the world they were chosen out of. "I've chosen you. I've ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain." What does it mean here, by fruit? You say, "Skip, you've been through this already. Move on. You talked about fruit last week." I did. I talked about fruit especially as the fruit of the spirit, right? Galatians 5, the characteristics of Christ.
Here, the context is a little different because He's speaking of being chosen and going out into the world. I think that the fruit he is, especially in particular referring to, the graces of Christian character, about the converts from the unbelieving world. It's people that you influence and they come to Christ. There's a spiritual harvest, the fruit is gathered in.
Stay right here. You don't have to turn to it. I'm going to turn to John chapter 4. We've been through this before but I don't know. It was like 40 years ago. This is Jesus in Samaria, right? He's in Samaria. A lot of unbelievers come to faith in Him there. In Chapter 4 of John's gospel, I'm reading out of Verse 34. Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." Do not say there are still four months and then comes the harvest. "Behold, I say to you. Lift up your eyes and look at the fields for they are already white for harvest. And he who reaps, and he who receives wages, gathers fruit for eternal life that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together."
Every time you have the opportunity to lead somebody to Christ, even if you don't even make it that far, if you just say a word that will influence them later to do so or you show an act of love in the name of Christ that will eventually add to their conversion, that is eternal fruit. And I'll tell you, that's the way to live. There's purpose in the Christian life.
I'll tell you, there's one way I don't want to live. I don't want to live my life standing around and watching the world go on, just sort of meaninglessly living my life, watching things happen without influencing somebody else. I would much rather live with the intention of I'm saved and I'm ordained to bear forth fruit and bring people to know Christ because that's eternal fruit.
By the way, did you know that every person that you influence, every fruit, follows you into eternity, "That your fruit would remain," Jesus said.
One of the passages we often share at funerals for those believers who live this kind of a life, Revelation 14 says, "And blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on, for they will rest from their labors and their works will follow them." Your fruit will follow you into eternity. Jesus picks His friends.
The second great truth we see here is that Jesus helps His friends. That's good and then if He picks you as His friend, you want Him to help you. You say, "Well, what kind of help will He give?"
Well, the first and most important thing is He saves you. He'll sacrifice His life for you. Verse 13, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." We always look to the cross, do we not, as the prime greatest quintessential example of love? Jesus did that. He loves me that much.
By the way, the principle in Verse 13 is the universal principle. Everybody knows it to be true. Every culture knows that it to be true. The greatest example of love or friendship is when a friend would give his life. He would sacrifice his life for another. That's the best example, highest example of love. But here, Jesus is speaking of His own death. You can now fast forward in John writes 1 John, and in that book John says, "By this, we know love that He laid down His life for us."
We really know that He came to help us. We really know that He loves us because He was willing to lay His life down for us. Do you understand the principle? Jesus doesn't just choose you to be His friends. He came to this earth and paid the bill for you to become His friends -- by washing away your sin, by dying on the cross.
Now, somebody will listen to that and go, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's the one problem I have with Christianity, is this whole death on the cross thing." Now, I like to think of Jesus as just a good person, a good fellow, a good example, a good teacher. And why can't we just say that Jesus came to this earth to say some nice words, do a few miraculous tricks to stun everybody and then He just left. Isn't that good enough? Do we have to make a big deal about Him dying on the cross? Yes, we do and here's why: Because all of Jesus' friends are sinners, and all sinners need to be forgiven and forgiveness comes by shed blood. The Old Testament says it, "Only by the shedding of blood is there remission of sins," or "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins." That's number one. He came to sacrifice for us to pay the penalty, to be our atonement.
Look at Verse 15. Here's something else He does and helps us, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant doesn't know what his master is doing. I have called you friends for all things that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you." Jesus speaks to us. Jesus reveals to us. Jesus lets us in -- His friends, on the plan of God. "All things that I've learned from my Father, I told you. But I don't call you servants anymore, I call you friends."
Now, just think about this for a moment: When you read through the epistles like Romans etcetera, you find that a lot of the gospel writers love to call themselves servants. It's one of Paul's favorite terms for himself. So in Romans, in 2 Corinthians, in Galatians, in Philippians and in Titus, those five books, all five books, Paul calls himself "a bond-slave of Jesus". Have you heard that term, "Bondservant of Jesus"? He loved to call himself a bondservant, a slave of Jesus. He wasn't the only one. James, in his book, calls himself a slave. Peter in 2 Peter calls himself a bondservant. Jude calls himself a bondservant. But all of these authors love to call themselves servants. Why? Because they knew they had a great boss, because as the old saying goes, "To be His slave is to be a king." They loved being called a servant.
So then, why does Jesus here make a differentiation between servants and friends? "I'm not going to call you servants anymore. I'm going to call you friends." Well then, He explains it. "For everything I've heard from my Father, I've told you."
Did you know in ancient times, slaves work for their master without any explanation at all? A master never told the servant why he had to do work just that he had to do work, just do the work. And servants would do the work, slaves would do the work. They do the work to get paid, just to grind it out, just to get the job done. They didn't really particularly love their master necessarily. They could, but typically not. So often you'd have a slave who had a bad attitude anyway toward the master –- just cranking it out, just doing the work, just wanting to get paid. The master would never go to a slave and say, "I'll let you in on my secrets, my plans, my dreams, my hopes, my aspirations, my agenda." Now, that was something reserved for only friends who were close confidants, not slaves. Servants didn't understand, friends did.
Did you know that 2000 years ago when this was written, the Roman emperor had a group of people around him in his court? They were known as friends of the king. And the friends of the king were more than political advisers. They were actually close associates. They had access to the king at anytime. They could even go into his bed chamber and talk about the deepest issues of life, and the king typically would run everything by his friends of the king before he would tell anybody else. "I don't call you servants. I call you friends." If I would have been a disciple, I'll go, "Yeah." I would know what that meant. What an honor. They just got promoted. They just got elevated. And then He tells them why once again, "For all things that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you." In other words, we, His friends, we don't just blindly follow His orders. We know why we follow His orders. He has revealed to us the whole scope of life from the beginning of creation to the end of the consummation. We're in on the deal. We're in on the details.
Oh, real quickly, if you don't mind, I want you to turn your Bibles to Matthew Chapter 13. There are lots of verses and scriptures that I could use. I just want to poke at a couple of them to let you see the meaning of this and to reinforce it. Matthew Chapter 13, this is Jesus giving parables. Look at this, Verse 10, "And as the disciples came to Him and said, 'Why do you speak to them in parables? What's up with all these stories? Why are you doing that?" Look at what He says. He answered them and said, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given." Isn't that interesting? They're going to hear a story and go, "I don't get it. That's a kind of funny little story. It was cute but I don't get. I don't understand." But the friends, the close associates, they'll understand the meaning that lies behind the clever little story in a deeper fashion.
Something else, turn with me to the Gospel of Luke Chapter 10. You're going back to John. Go two blocks to the right on the way back to John. Luke Chapter 10. In Verse 22 of Luke 10, "All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."
And then He turned to His disciples privately and said, "Blessed are your eyes, it would see the things you see for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear and have not heard it." Jesus told them everything. Jesus told them how to get to heaven. Jesus told them a little bit about what heaven would be like. Jesus told them how to have joy, how to have peace. Jesus told them about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus even told them about what will happen at the end of the world and how it's all going to come down sequentially in Matthew Chapter 24.
So He passed that on to them. They in turn wrote it down and passed that on to us, so we have what Paul called "The whole council of God". We have what Paul called "The mystery of the knowledge of His will". We have all of the sacred secrets given to us in the Bible. Now, somebody is going to say, "Okay. Well, if it's in the Bible, then anybody can just buy a Bible and they'll have all the sacred secrets -- anybody, believer or unbeliever, right?" Wrong. You know what it says in 1 Corinthians Chapters 1 and 2, "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit, their foolishness unto Him. He can know them. They're spiritually discerned.
I know people who own Bibles and they don't have a clue what's written in it. They have no knowledge of spiritual truth. They own the Bible. They own the book maybe even try to read it, they don't get it. It's something the Holy Spirit of God must unlock and He does that to His friends. That's what I want you to walk away within this point. We know what nobody else knows.
You have the secret of the universe. I honestly don't think we really appreciate that. I really think we take it for granted how much we know. It means that the greatest philosopher, the smartest scientist, all on their quest for the truth, they're like babies in the crib compared to a simple, man or woman with the Bible and the Holy Spirit of God bringing the revelation of knowledge to their heart. "Everything the Father has told me, I've passed it on."
So Jesus picks His friends. He helps His friends. Third and we close on this, we better do it quickly, He anticipates His friends. He expects His friends to do something. One verse, look at Verse 14, "You are my friends," notice there's not a period there. He say, "You know what, I've picked a lot of friends and you are my friends." Notice how it goes on after the comma, "You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you."
Okay. So we've been talking about how great a friend Jesus is. Now, I have a question for you: How good of a friend to Jesus are you? Well, how can I be a good friend? "If you do whatever I command you." Notice something about that. Jesus' friends actively obey Him. The word "do" is a positive word. He didn't say, "You're my friends if you don't do this and you don't do that." And for a lot of people, their Christianity is all about negatives, what they don't do. "I don't smoke. I don't chew. I don't go with girls that do." Whoopie! What do you do that's positive?
So Jesus' friends will actively obey. Not only that, Jesus' friends will repeatedly obey. You see the word "do", it's a little word. It's in the present subjunctive. It means continually, habitually as a lifestyle do. Not, "You are my disciples, if you do something once and then quit it forever. You are my disciples if you do what I tell you to do on Sundays but on Monday and the rest, you could do whatever you want. You are my disciples if you do what I tell you to do when everybody's looking. But when nobody is looking, do whatever you want." It's a continual, habitual lifestyle of obedience.
And finally, look at the word "whatever". This tells me that Jesus' friends unconditionally obey Him. "You are my disciples if you do whatever." It's not like, "If you do, whatever." That's sort of the modern thing, "What do you got to do?" "Whatever." No. It means anything He tells you to do, right? Here's the deal: You and I can never pick and choose what area of life we're going to allow Jesus Christ into. We can't say, "Well, I'm going to obey Him in my business life, but I won't obey Him in my marriage. I've got something else going on the side. Well, I'm going to obey Jesus in my marriage and in my business, but I'm not going to obey Him when I file for my income tax returns. Well, I'm going to obey Jesus there, but when it comes to my vacation and my leisure, I'm going to sort of do what I want." No. It's a continual, habitual and it includes whatever, whatever.
This is what James said, James Chapter 4, and here's the choice everybody has to make. James said, "Whoever would be a friend of this world is an enemy toward God." A man or a woman must come basically to that choice, "Am I going to be the world's friend or am I going to be God's friend?" Because down the long hall you won't be able to do both.And so Father, we commit ourselves to Your with that choice in mind knowing that Jesus picks His friends and what an honor that is to be chosen, to be predestined, to be loved because You knew us before you picked us. And to have the kind of intentionality in our lives where You would say, "Not only have I chosen you as my friends, I have chosen you as my ambassadors. I have ordained you, appointed you to go and to bear forth fruit that will last." Thank you for that, what a privilege. Thank you for helping us by paying the bill that would cost to get us to heaven, by revealing Your will to us to the Scripture, by telling us everything we need to know about life and Godliness. And Lord, thank you that this friendship is a two-way street. It's not just what You have done and what You continue to do, but it's reciprocal. We're Your friends if we do whatever you tell us. What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and grieves to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Thank you for that access as friends of the King. In Jesus name, Amen.