Summary: Jesus no longer calls us servants, but friends. There are 4 advantages that friends have over servants. There are 3 applications to our relationship to Jesus and to our service with others.
SERVING AS FRIENDS
John Tung, 1-21-07
Already this year we have seen our new deacons become ordained and installed. They have agreed to serve as deacons. And besides the deacons, there are many others in the church who have also given themselves to serve others and to serve God.
But the word “servant” seems to be out-of-favor these days. No one really likes to be known as a servant. It seems to connote the idea of being lowly, perhaps even badly treated, and with not much reward.
But it wasn’t that way in the Bible. In the Bible, the word servant was often highly regarded. When the word is applied to God’s people serving God, the word servant is highly appropriate. In our relationship to God, we were meant to serve him.
That’s why when we come to our passage today we read something we do not expect. We read that Jesus gave his servants another title, a very surprising title besides being called servants.
The passage I am talking about is John 15:13-17. [Read.]
John 15:13-17 “13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-- fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”
II. Four Reasons Jesus Calls Us His Friends and Not Just Servants
The verse that stands out in this passage is Jesus saying to his disciples - his servants - that “I no longer call you servants … but I have called you friends.”
This doesn’t mean the disciples never referred to themselves as servants anymore. They did.
Paul, Peter and John all said in their letters that they are servants of Jesus Christ. They knew that they were serving Jesus Christ.
But besides being servants, Jesus wanted them to know and us to know that his relationship with us exists on a deeper basis than that of being his servants.
It’s kind of like when I came to serve on our church staff. In one of our first meetings, Pastor Liu told me that I could call him Jonathan. I was kind of taken back by that, because he was my boss. But he wanted me to see our relationship as more than that of boss and worker, but also as friends. But even though I know I can call him Jonathan, I still prefer to call him Pastor Liu to show him respect in our working relationship. But I also know that he has ministered to me as a friend.
So, when Jesus says, “You are now my friends, and not just my servants,” what is he saying to his disciples is that “even though you are serving me, but don’t think of your relationship to me only in that way, as your boss. It is more than that.”
Jesus is telling us that there is something more about being a friend than being a servant.
As we look at these five verses, Jesus tells us four reasons why he is calling us his friends.
A. Friends give much more of themselves than servants: to the point of laying down our life - vs. 13
The first reason is that friends give much more of themselves than servants: to the point of laying down our life (slide).
The first reason is in vs. 13, where Jesus says to them, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
This is a general statement that we agree with, but find it hard to do ourselves. Even if we are good friends with someone, will we be willing to lay down our life for them? Perhaps even to the point of death?
If you have a friend who is willing to lay down his life for you, that is great. That is amazing. That is truly a very special friendship. We might even call them heroes. Like the man in NYC who jumped down into the subway tracks and covered up a man who was having seizures and had accidentally fallen down onto the tracks. And as a result he saved him. But the even more amazing thing is that this man didn’t know the man who fell.
But perhaps even the best of friends may not be willing to cross that line. Perhaps we are willing to do a lot for our friends, but not give our life to them, to die for them.