John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Having a true, spiritually hearted friend is of great value. For it is in this relationship wherein the greatest love is discovered. And since God is love, he alone may define what true and great love really is! We usually read this passage as Jesus being our Friend. But that is not what this is stating. It is stating that we are Jesus’ friends. Therefore we need to finally understand this from that stand point.
A friend is one who can and does refresh one’s self. Acts 27:1 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. 3 And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.
It is interesting that the Greek word translated “to refresh” comes from a word translated “took care,” and “Take care” in the parable of the good Samaritan. Luke 10:34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. So a true friend is one who refreshes you by having your interests at heart.
And it was friends whom those who had found that which was lost called to rejoice with them. Luke 15:6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
But when did God ever need such a friend? Let us consider Noah’s influence upon the Person of God. In Genesis six we read of God’s repentance in making man, insomuch so, that he intended to destroy man, all beasts, creeping things and all the fowls of the air! But there was only one man which prevented him from doing so! It was Noah’s friendship! Standing beside him, walking with him was his friend Noah! Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 ¶ And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Genesis 6:8 ¶ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
Now consider how God’s heart was changed by Noah’s friendship. For after the flood waters had drained from the earth we read of God’s professed change of heart! For after the flood waters had drained from the earth, we read of God speaking of himself. Genesis 8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. 22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
The Lord Jesus stated the words of our text during his early ministry. And he said that the greatest love was to be found in the relationship of true friendship. John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. For in true friendship one will set aside his own intentions and purposes to take care of a friend. He will “lay down his life,” that is, his own plans and intentions in order to help a friend!
Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23), as he laid aside his life, leaving his homeland and family in obedience to the Lord God. He interpreted his life as becoming a ‘wanderer’ to Abimelech. Genesis 20:13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, … Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 12:4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
Our Lord also called Lazarus his friend. And truly Lazarus’ life was physically laid down for the glory of God, the Son. John 11:1 ¶ Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. In order to reveal himself as “the resurrection,” and not just a physician, the Lord required a dead man, not just a sick man! So Lazarus was truly required to lay down his physical life.
Therefore the Lord did not move out of his place until he knew “our friend Lazarus” was dead. John 11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
John 11:41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
Therefore in our text we have the God of Abraham, the God of Lazarus, defining to us the same conditions of our friendship as these had. Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
We see in the second verse of our text that Christ’s friends live in obedience to his word. John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Abraham obeyed God, which proved his love of God to be above his love for all others. No one is accounted righteous who does not obey the word of God. Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
It is to be a total love from one’s entire self. Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
But how does one love with the mind? 1 Corinthians 13:5 (Love) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Loving with the mind involves having a mind that not only thinks no evil against God, but contemplates the blessedness of knowing Him. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Job 1:22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. 2:10. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
A heart that is obedient to God, is to Him of far greater value than strict performance to religious tradition! Disobedience is as abhorrent to Him as witchcraft! 1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
And finally, in the last verse of our text we read that one is upgraded from a servant of God to being a friend of God by the revelation to them of all God’s word to Christ. John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
And this is done by the inner dwelling of the Holy Spirit. John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
All believers, throughout the world, whether having a Bible or not, have had the Holy Spirit to direct them. Before the printing press, when the scriptures had to be copied by hand rendering them very expensive and very rare, all believers everywhere had the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. 1 John 2:20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Every born again believer, without fail, gravitates to the light of God’s revelation to them by the Holy Spirit. And every unbeliever, without fail, shuns the light of God’s word to their own destruction. John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. 33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Are you God’s friend? Are you yielding submission to him, at whatever the cost may be regarding the abandonment of your determined lifestyle? Are you laying down your life’s ambitions and plans, seeking only the Lord’s direction for your life? If you do so you will be upgraded from just a servant who knows not the Lord’s will, to a friend who has the soul-cleansing washing of the word. See Ephesians 5:26.
Pastor Gene Breed
December 6, 2019