John 15:9 – “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 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. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. (NIV)
On my very first appointment as a pastor, I was at a very small rural church located in the mountains of southwest Virginia. Wonderfully sweet people! Some Sunday’s we didn’t have a pianist, and they sang a cappella. Oh, how some of those hymns could drag along! It seemed as if they only had a handful of hymns, and whatever we sang was from that handful. One of those hymns was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” It is a great hymn, and the theology is certainly solid: “What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and grief’s to bear!”
We know that we do, indeed, have a friend in Jesus. Jesus is there to carry all of our sins, but the question we must ask ourselves today, in light of this Scripture reading, is this: Does Jesus have a friend in us?
Today’s reading from the Gospel of John is from what is commonly referred to as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. It takes place on the night before Jesus was crucified, and is the longest single section of John’s Gospel. Jesus makes it clear what he expects from those that would follow him – to love one another as Jesus loves us (verse 12). Jesus would soon lay his life down for all of us, and he tells us that this is the greatest way to show love (verse 13). Then Jesus tells us in verse fourteen: “You are my friends if you do what I command.”
There are countless ways in which we can lay down our lives, but it basically boils down to living unselfishly. Earlier in this chapter, Jesus spoke of the fruit that we will produce if we would stay connected to Jesus spiritually. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul tells us what this fruit is: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Not only is this the fruit of the spirit, these are the characteristics of a life lived unselfishly. These are the characteristics of friends of Jesus.
We know that Jesus is our friend, today let’s make sure that we are Jesus’ friend!
Posted by Ramón Torres