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We start out as slaves. Our path to maturity starts with servitude and obedience. I saw this in my relationship with my father. I had to learn obedience first. When I matured, we became the closest of friends. He treated me that way and I responded. That was so cool.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

ESV (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), John 15:12–17

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The same is true with our heavenly Father. We are his friends. He tells us His most innermost feelings and secrets. God wants us to have a heart after Him and wants us to live in intimacy with Him. He wants this far above obedience.

God wants us to mature. He wants us to move beyond servitude. He wants us to be His friend. He wants us to co-reign with the Messiah Jesus.

I do not understand completely why Jesus would die for me. That is powerful love. And He did it because He considers me a friend. I do not deserve it. I am a sinner. Jesus was famous for bring the friend of sinners.

Most of us have many acquaintances but very few friends, and some of our friends may even prove unfriendly or even unfaithful. What about Judas? “Yes, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Ps. 41:9). Even a devoted friend may fail us when we need him most. Peter, James, and John went to sleep in the Garden when they should have been praying; and Peter even denied the Lord three times. Our friendship to each other and to the Master is not perfect, but His friendship to us is perfect.

However, we must not interpret this word friend in a limited way, because the Greek word means “a friend at court.” It describes that “inner circle” around a king or emperor. (In John 3:29, it refers to the “best man”, at a wedding.) The “friends of the king” would be close to him and know his secrets, but they would also be subject to him and must obey his commands. There is thus no conflict between being a friend and being a slave.

It is this kind of a relationship that Jesus described when He called His disciples “friends.” It was certainly a relationship of love, both for Him and for each other. The “friends of the King” could not compete for attention or promotion. They were a part of the “inner circle,” not to promote themselves, but to serve their King. What a rebuke this must have been to the selfish disciples who often argued over who was the greatest!

  • Romans 5:7–8 — 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, the Messiah died for us.
  • Luke 12:4 — 4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.
  • John 3:16 — 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
  • 1 Peter 3:18 — 18 For the Messiah also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

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