1997-09-25 - The Depth of Friendship
The Cross Series, Part 10
John 15:12-19 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 "You are My friends, if you do what I command you. 15 "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 things that I have 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 of the Father in My name, He may give to you. 17 "This I command you, that you love one another. 18 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Here again is a reinforcement of what Jesus has identified several times as one of the two greatest commandments. Love your neighbor as yourself. We have all heard people say that they hate themselves. In very few cases is that honestly true. And those cases are often anger aimed at themselves for something they could not have prevented or controlled. Jesus affirms that we all have a care for ourselves. The Master simply states that we should care for others as we care for ourselves. The Ephesians text is a reference to husbands, but it does not change the point that we each are concerned for our own well being.
Eph 5:28-30 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.
Jesus then, once more, makes it abundantly clear that he is about to die for them. And then he reminds them of something almost as amazing. He calls them friends. The Creator of the Universe wants fellowship, with them and with us. The thought is staggering to me. We as a race decided we knew better than He did and turned our backs on Him. Before time began, God knew this would happen. And through the ages of time, the plan to reconcile mankind to God has come to this moment. And in the midst of the preparations for this final battle, Jesus confirms to the men around Him that He has granted to them, and to us indirectly, the position of friendship.
Rom 5:7-8 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, Christ died for us.
As friends, the Lord has given to us His inside scoop. He has indeed given his game plan to the whole world as if to show that He knows nothing can change what He has determined. We also have been given an earnest, a down payment, of the glory that is to come in the Holy Spirit taking up residence in our hearts. He is a witness in our spirits to the changes that are taking place there. Somehow, Jesus has shown us our own inability to help ourselves to the perfection, or anything near it, required to enter Heaven. We try to share this Good News, this Gospel, with the world. The response is rarely indifferent. It is either the curiosity of a heart that has begun to hear the call of Christ; or it is the anger and resentment of the proud heart that finds no room for the news that they are unable to provide for themselves. This is simply one more evidence that Jesus chooses for Himself.
I John 3:13-14 Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
Does this eliminate the part that our free will has in the selection process? Someday we will see how these two seemingly disparate points of view will merge. It will probably take the Lord to show us. He chooses, and yet our free will must yield to His call. Can a person resist the call of God? One thing is sure. Once they yield and know the depth and power of that love God gives, who would leave it without its power pulling them back like the prodigal son.
Lord Jesus, the world hates You through us. It is not us they hate, but the fact that they are not capable of being good enough to warrant Heaven. Your offer is made with great caring to provide everything anyone needs. Teach us to make the offer so appealing, to make Your life offered so irresistible, that people will come looking for what makes us different. Make us lights in a safe harbour for anyone who is seeking. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.