Servant or Friend


In life, relationships take on many dynamics. There are some people who get along with well. We handle challenges and conflict with ease. There are others whom we have some challenges, but we work them out. On the other hand, there are some people who we just cannot workout our challenges and conflicts. We tend to stay away from those people. We may interact, but we do not have any type of relationship.

In John 15, Jesus talks about His relationship with His disciples. He qualifies the nature of His relationship with them. He has a close relationship with them. He is entering the time of their relationship where He will have to work out challenges and conflicts. He has already shared that one (Judas) will betray Him. From scripture, we know that Peter later denied knowing Jesus. Despite all of that, Jesus makes a proclamation to the disciples.

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s 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.

Jesus has already clarified what it means for man to be His friend. Obedience is the criteria. He says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” There is much in that statement. First, Jesus, like all of us, establishes a criteria for which He calls people friends. Like us, it has to do with the manner in which people respond/relate to us. For Christ, obedience is the key. Now, if we do not read, memorize, meditated, hear or study the Word, we cannot know what Jesus expects us to do. If we don’t know what He commands, we cannot follow the commands. Consequently, you are not Jesus’ friend. In fact, Jesus states that you don’t know Him. I John 3 further clarifies Jesus’ expectations.

Now, we know that we nor the disciples are perfect in our execution of Jesus’ commands. While holiness is the expectations, Jesus knew that we would not be perfect, so He came to die for our sins to redeem us. In this passage, we see Jesus making a distinction between a servant and a friend.  Once more, Jesus provides a criterion to determine whether one is a servant or one is a friend.

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.

In our lives, there are casual acquaintances and there are real friends. We do not share our business with casual acquaintances. We share our deepest thoughts, cares and concerns with those we feel are invested in the relationship, with people we believe we can trust. They have shown themselves to be trustworthy. They have consistently kept our trust by not sharing our trusted thoughts and feelings. They have maintained our confidence. For Jesus, I have read that the difference between a servant and a friend is not between diligent obedience and disobedience (or even casual obedience). The difference is between understanding and not understanding. Because friends have a close relationship, they understand while servants do not. here is no previous record of Jesus Christ calling the disciples “servants,” except possibly 12:26; yet Jesus had a right to do this, as He had the right to be called “Lord” (13:13). “Friend” suggests a close relation, and the language of brotherhood is closer still (Heb. 2:10, 11) Christ did not have a higher revelation reserved for an inner group; He revealed Himself to the disciples unstintingly. (from the Reformation Study Bible)

According to Jesus, the criteria for calling one a friend is obedience. The benefit of being called a friend is disclosure of Himself. What an awesome thought! Jesus, who created all things, wants to disclose Himself to me, to you. Jesus wants us to know and understand who He is in light of what He commands us to do. When we know who He is and what He can do, obedience is easy and natural. This is why it is so important to consume the Word. In the Word, we develop our understanding of Christ.

Are you Servant or Friend? Jesus has shown us how to assess ourselves. Are we obedient? Do we consistently consume the Word of God in pursuit of Christ? Those standards Jesus set. Evaluate where you are in terms of being a Servant or Friend.

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