John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
John 15:14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Given His emphasis on loving enemies you might have come to the conclusion that the highest act of sacrifice would have been for those who don’t deserve it. But, here Jesus clearly states that the giving of one’s life for friends is the greatest expression of love.
Giving one’s life for a stranger might be heroic, but does not come up from the heart of love as it does or would for a friend. Giving one’s life for a friend reveals, as well as incarnates, the very essence of love in a way that could not be for a stranger or an enemy.
I think we must remember the conditions for being Jesus’ friend; “obedience to His commandments.” To be His friend, one must be open to Christ’s self-revelation and identify with him, with the One who has offered himself for all who believe. To put it another way, the structure of friendship in the Kingdom is: “one opens himself to another and receives his self-offering, embracing who he is and following his commandments.”
During the last supper, Jesus finally discloses himself fully and completely; and they respond to His discourse, “See, now you are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that you know all things, and have no need that anyone should question you.” (John 16:29-30).
They have grown from hearers, learners, and followers …. to friends. They have entered into the mystery, a mystery that Jesus prays for them and for all future believers: “…that they all may be one, as you Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us….that they may be one just as we are one…I in them and you in me; that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:21ab, 22b, 23a).
This friendship is the basis of the mystery of the communion of the disciples with Christ, and of the spiritual union between the Creator and the creature that will come into fullness in eternity in the fully manifested Kingdom of God. Friendship in it’s fullest sense is the union of the friends. The two being one together.
Now lets look at the entire passage:
John 17:20 ¶ “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; John 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17:22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: John 17:23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
True friendship will open the eyes of the world so that they can know the God of Love. Friendship opens the eyes of the world so they can have faith and know the Love of the Father. Friendship opens the eyes and the heart to receive the God who is Love. The Love that is life!
Friendship has and does save the world.