One of the challenges in moving from one town to another is being without friends and family nearby. Calling a new place our home means more than simply moving boxes and furniture, it means establishing new relationships.
We have been reflecting on the gift of relationship we have received in Christ. Because of Christ, we have been adopted into a new family. In today’s reading, Jesus uses another word to describe His relationship with His disciples—friends.
John records Jesus’ final night with His disciples before the crucifixion. He prepares the disciples for His soon-to-come death, resurrection, and ascension. He knows that His relationship with them will change. Using the analogy of a grapevine, Jesus compares them to branches that are connected to a vine. He is the vine and they are the branches (John 15:5). Their job is to bear fruit (v. 2). But this can only be accomplished if they remain connected to the vine! (v. 5).
The disciples remain connected through their obedience (v. 10). But He also speaks to their motivation for obedience. They are not servants, but friends (v. 14). This may contradict our idea of friendship. Isn’t it usually between two equal parties? If Jesus has the right to demand obedience, how is He a friend? In two important ways! First, Jesus calls us friends because He revealed important things to us. He explains, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (v. 15). We are not called to blind obedience but to understand God’s mission. Second, Jesus laid down His life for us (v. 13). This is the greatest gift one friend can offer another.
>> One hymn says, “What a friend we have in Jesus / All our sins and griefs to bear / What a privilege to carry / Everything to God in prayer.” Prayer is a result of this intimate friendship with Jesus. You can share with Him what is on your heart today.
God, coming before You is like coming home. You see every bit of who we are, even the things we want to hide. We come before You with an open heart. We grieve over our sins and cling to Your promise of forgiveness.