““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 things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
(John 15:14–15 NAS95)
Jesus does an amazing thing in our verse here. He delineates the new relationship between himself and his disciples [and so all of his disciples that would follow in the footsteps of these disciples by believing in Jesus]. He says: “I have called you friends.” [Attn: Grammar alert! If you don’t like grammar skip to the next paragraph, Ed.] The verb tense that John uses here is the perfect tense. This tense was used in Greek to mark something that had already happened and was still true and would be true into the indefinite future. In other words, it was an established fact that Jesus’ disciples were now Jesus’ friends. Indeed, in the Greek in vs. 14 “my friends” is emphasized so that we can think of it as “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
Jesus, by calling his disciples, friends has elevated them to, as A. T. Robertson points out, “a permanent state of new dignity.” D. A. Carson adds that: “You are my friends if you do what I command. This obedience is not what makes them friends; it is what characterizes his friends.”
Think about it, dear reader, we can be Jesus’ friends if we are characterized by obedience to him. This is both a low bar and a very high bar. It is a low bar to step over because it is so simple. No weird rituals, no jumping through myriad hoops, no “higher knowledge” that the lesser informed don’t understand, just obedience. It is a very high bar in that we, as independent human animals who are sinners do not like being told to do anything that we don’t want to and we only like obeying our own impulses and desires, so when we hear Jesus call us to obedience, it sounds like nails grating on a chalkboard. “Who is he to make us obey him?”
Not that Jesus doesn’t understand all of this. Look what he just told them: ““If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:10–11 NAS95). He is interested in making our joy full! He is not out to stuff us into a box of misery and ruin our lives by a dreary, forced obedience that makes life into a sufferfest. He is out for our joy and not just for any joy but for complete, perfect joy.
There is a connection then—however much we really do not want to admit it—between Jesus’ commands and our own joy. How can that be? What makes obeying his commands the pathway to our own joy? I’m glad you
didn‘t asked. He created the world and everything in the world (John 1.1-4). He created you and he created me. Who do you think understands the thing created the best? The one who created it, or that thing itself?
Obedience to Jesus is the way to your own full, complete joy.