JOHN 15:14-17
Prepared by John E. Marshall

These verses are a description of what Christ’s followers are to Him, of what He is to them, and of what they should be to one another (Maclaren).

John 15:14 (Holman) “You are My friends if you do what I command you.”

Observe that though Christ called them friends, His devoted followers still called themselves His slaves (Peter in 1 Peter 1:1, James 1:1, and Paul in Romans 1:1). The more honor Christ puts upon us, the more honor we should return to Him. The higher we become in His eyes, the lower we should be in our own.

We are His friends because He has made known to us the counsels of God. But we are evermore his slaves because He purchased us with His blood. Never let privilege crowd out duty in your thoughts.

Jesus gave His life for us, and our response is to do the things He commands. What would you think of a general who would say, “I will take advantage of the fact that the President of the United States is my friend and will disregard his commands”? Such an attitude would be despicable. The Christian must never presume upon the friendship with Christ. It must hold us firmer to what is right.

John 15:15 “I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.”

A slave is not allowed to enter intelligently into his master’s decisions. But Jesus has brought us into His counsels.

The term friend was often used to describe a ruler’s most intimate acquaintances. They were his closest advisors and had unlimited access to the King. They even had the right to enter his bedchamber if deemed necessary.

The King’s consulted his “friends” before he discussed matters with generals, leaders, statesmen, etc. The “friends” were his closest associates.

David had a servant in his court, and Solomon one in his, that was in a special manner “the king’s friend” (2 Samuel 15:37; 1 Kings 4:5). Jesus does not let us know everything there is to know. That would be too painful for us. A friend exercises the right of quietness as well as the purgative of speech. Everything the Father wants us to know, Jesus has faithfully related. To share more would be painful for us.

Parmenio was a great general, but all his fame in that regard is forgotten in the fact that he was known as the friend of Alexander. Others cared for Alexander as a conqueror and monarch, but Parmenio loved him as a man. Alexander perceived this, and placed a great reliance in his friend.

Even so, we have been granted this honorable position. “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?”, expresses the spirit of our Lord’s dealing with his followers (Genesis 18:17).

Of Moses it is said, “The Lord spoke with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11).

Jonathan Edwards, when he came to die, bid his relations good-bye, then breathed his last words, “Now where is Jesus of Nazareth, my true and never failing Friend?”

John 15: 16a “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.”

Christ chose us. In all cases of friendship between Jesus and men, the origination and initiation came from Him. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).

Man tends to think the initiative is with himself. This is not the case. We should rejoice in that fact. The stability of our friendship is assured by the fact that it begins in the Lord and not in man. His love was not caused by anything in man. It is of grace, and therefore sure.

John 15:16b “I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.”

The followers of Jesus are ordained, not to sit still, but to go about, to be diligent in the work of doing good. They were not to beat the air, but bring men to Christ.

We have not been chosen to live a life retired from the world. When a knight came to the court of King Arthur, he did not come to spend the rest of his days in knightly feasting and fellowship. He came to be sent on a great task of chivalry.

Jesus called us to Himself so He could then send us out to the world.

John 15:17 “This is what I command you: love one another.”

Note the mutual kinship of Christ’s friends. Friends of a friend should themselves be friends. We treasure the lifeless things that belong to a friend. If he loves an object, we desire to protect it for him. We want to keep from hurting him.

We are but poor friends of another unless we feel that all which is dear to Him is dear to us. If we are careful to regard our friend’s lifeless treasures, how much more care we should show for his living treasures.

A man is crushed by hard feelings amongst his friends. Jesus is pained when His children are ugly toward each other. As we hurt each other, we hurt Him.

How can we grow in love? By concentrating our thoughts on Jesus. We must draw closer to Jesus.

As the spokes of a carriage wheel approach their center, they approach each other. In any circle, the nearer the points are to the center, the closer they will necessarily be to one another.

So, also, when men are drawn nearer to Jesus as the center of their lives, they are drawn toward each other.