As PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED each of the words we are considering in these articles requires to be associated with another word to bring out the meaning of both. Hitherto the second has been a different word but now the two words are the same, i.e. Friend and Friend. One can act towards a stranger in the way a friend would act but the blessedness of friendship cannot be known except by those who are friends. In the expressions already considered there was a difference in status between the parties – Sheep and Shepherd, Servant and Master, Disciple and Teacher. Now we have reached a loftier plane, for friendship takes no account of such differences.
cYe are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 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, John 15. 14, 15.'
When addressing Judas Iscariot as ‘friend’, Matt. 26. 50, the Lord used a word which meant ‘companion or comrade’. It was wonderful grace on His part to speak of the traitor even in that way, but when speaking the words quoted above He used a term of endearment. In the context He spoke of the hatred and persecution He had experienced from the world during His pathway on earth : He spoke also of the joy His heart had continuously known throughout all those sorrowful experiences. He had been abiding in the love and approbation of His Father, conscious throughout of His Father’s delight in Him, enjoying intimate fellowship with Him, and He speaks of this as the outcome of His having kept His Father’s commandments. The time had now come when He was about to leave His own, in a world where they, also, would certainly experience tribulation, 16. 33, and yet their joy could be full as His had been. They would have a similar experience of the hatred and persecution of the world and He desired for them, also, a similar experience of joy and fellowship; that they should have the continual consciousness of His love and approbation of them, of His delight in them, and this the outcome of their keeping His commandments.
The final proof of love of friend for friend would be to lay down his life for him, and He was about to do that for them. How far would their love for Him go? At the very least it should go to this – to do whatsoever He commands them. So would they show themselves to be His friends. And as they continued in obedience to His words they would continue in the consciousness of His love and the experience of His joy, as He desired for them.
But this is not all. Where there is true friendship there is intimacy, the sharing of thoughts ; this distinguishes the friend from the servant. He had shared the thoughts and secrets of the Father. He will share His thoughts and secrets with His friends, i.e. with those who are willing to hear (as He heard) and do, i.e. practise, all things whatsoever He commands them. This intimacy is reserved for such. To pick and choose, to be ready to hear this but not that, to obey here but not there is not only to be an unfaithful servant and an unworthy disciple; it is, in addition, to put oneself outside the circle of those He deigns, in surpassing grace, to call
‘Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not.
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.’ So said Wisdom in Proverbs 8. 32-35. So He said again in John chapter 15.
How remarkable was the contrast when the Lord turned from these precious thoughts of love and joy to speak of the world, using repeatedly the awful words hate, hated, hateth – hatred to God, His Son and His people; hatred of His will, His ways, and His words. These thoughts brought sadness to His heart and it will be well if the reader views the world as He viewed it and ponders the solemn words ‘Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God ? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him’, Jas. 4. 4; 1 John 2. 15.
The concluding paper in this series will be entitled MY BRETHREN.