It was the night Jesus would be arrested, the day before He would lay down His life for the salvation of the world. He was teaching the disciples on the last evening as their Rabbi. Verses 12-13 read,
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Earlier in the evening, before the Seder, Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, told them that the servant wasn’t greater than the master and so they should also be humble and serve. They should wash one another’s feet as He had washed theirs. He then gave this same commandment, “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34). He gave them the commandment again after supper but instead of talking about servants and masters, He spoke about friendship. His words had to bring back the memory of Jesus, their rabbi, bending down with only a towel on His waist doing the most humble of acts and calling it love.
But now Jesus followed it up by saying, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus showed His love for the disciples by washing their feet, and act of great humility, then told them to love one another as He loved them. Now He told them again to love one another as He loved them but this time He told them the greatest display of love was in laying down one’s life for his friends. He was getting ready to do just that.
The disciples knew that Jesus life was in danger. He had not been able to teach and speak publicly in Jerusalem because the Sanhedrin had decided they wanted Him dead. Jesus had told them He was going to return to the Father. They knew His death was a real possibility but they also still thought He would somehow overthrow the Roman Empire and free Israel. He certainly was about to begin His royal kingdom and free many people from bondage. But it wasn’t going to be the way they imagined. Jesus was preparing them for His death, but they wouldn’t grasp all His words and comfort until afterward.
So Jesus continued to teach, He told them about the unique friendship He offered. Friendship with God. Verses 14-15 say,
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant 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.”
In the old covenant, Israel served God. He had plans and purposes that He didn’t always tell His servants. The faithful served God and sometimes He called them Friend, as in the cases of Abraham and David. Those servants who not only obeyed God but sought a relationship with Him were His friends.
But in the new covenant, Jesus extends friendship to everyone who will accept it. Being in a relationship with God, being friends with Him, God trusts us with the secrets of His Kingdom, He lets us in in the plan, and we partner with Him in it. We serve people to show them God’s love. We serve one another. We work to bring the lost to a relationship with God.
That is awesome. You are God’s friend! You don’t get to choose your family. You are born to them. You love them and they love you and it is a special relationship. But unless you were adopted, your mother and father didn’t choose you. Servants are chosen but there is distance between the master and servant. The servant has no choice in obeying the master if he wants to maintain that relationship. But friendship is special. It is different. You choose your friends. You choose to begin that relationship and maintain it. Friends become partners in life by election. Here is the thing about your friendship with God. He chose you! He said, “I want to be your friend.” Almighty Awesome Holy God picked you to be His friend.
He loves you. He adores you! He appreciates you, and enjoys you. His love is perfect, it is tangible, and it is awesome. Verses 16-17 read,
“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. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
He chose you and expects you to live up to that high calling. He makes it possible because He is with you. You abide in Christ and Christ abides in you. That is how you can bear fruit. You live out the love of Christ in you and His Spirit allows you to work with God to fulfill the Father’s plans. He said you are His friend and all you have to do is ask the Father as Jesus’ representative to the world and He would give it you!
Does He give you what you ask because you are good, because you deserve it, or because you asked in just the right way? No, He gives it to you because He loves you, you are His friend and partner, and because you are loving people as He loves you.