“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.


I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” John 15:5-13 (NLT)


As Jesus spent his final moments with the disciples, he took time to talk to them as friends. Although Jesus would have had the weight of the cross that was before Him on His mind, He shared a few things that the disciples needed to know in His absence. He started with an analogy explaining to them that He was the vine and they were the branches. He would be their source and supply. As they were continually in relationship with Him, Jesus would empower them to do what they couldn’t do on their own. The sequential order of Jesus’ words is noteworthy. Following this analogy, Jesus talked to the disciples about friendship. Jesus called the disciples friends, because He knew the depth of His love for them. He was about to practice what He was preaching as He faced the cross. During this moment, the disciples could not fully understand what Jesus was saying. Yet, they would remember that moment when Jesus demonstrated His love by laying His life down.
Jesus laid down His life for His friends. He did it for you and me so that we can be adopted into His family. Jesus laid His life down as a gift that we might have relationship with Him. Friendship can be costly, and it is increasingly more difficult to come by. This type of sacrificial love is not popular. We would rather be served instead of serve. We don’t want to be inconvenienced. We might be willing to lay down our life for ourselves but rarely for someone else. We can only love others well when we understand how God has loved us. Have you considered that we can’t truly activate sacrificial love and friendship in our lives without being connected to Jesus? Love and friendship is something we give. We don’t have to know the outcome of how it will be received to be obedient to Jesus’ commandment to love one another. The fact that Jesus would call us friends is difficult to comprehend. We can doubt it, but His actions verify His words. When we see friendship in this light, it changes how we love others. In taking Jesus’ example, we might not have to physically lay our life down for our friends, but we have opportunities every day to lay down our agenda, preferences, and expectations to love and serve people. When we experience the love of Christ, it enables us to love like we couldn’t love before. When we do this, friendship becomes less about ourselves, loving people takes on a whole new meaning, and we take one step closer to loving people like Jesus.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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About Hona Amer

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