Sunday, March 3, 2013

John 15:12-17 Servants to Friends

John 15:12 (KJV)  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
That sounds pretty simple.  But let’s look at the following verses.
John 15:13-14 (KJV)  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Think about the immensity of that.  We have the Father as planner, the Son as the doer of the plan, and the Spirit as the communicator and the gel that holds it all together.  At some point before time existed, those three knew man would screw up and he needed help in solving that problem.  The resulting plan was the solution that required several things.
  1. At some point, the Son would go to earth with the intention of being a replacement for us in paying for our sin and sins.  Because the payment had to be by a man to pay for man.  But an ordinary man would not have the spiritual or physical strength to endure the required payment.
  2. At some point in His earthly stay, Jesus had to stop using His godly powers.  He couldn’t use His omniscience to know He’d be OK afterwards, nor that there was still a connection to the rest of the Trinity, that would be restarted at the right time.
  3. As Jesus was preparing Himself through prayer in the garden, He was doing that as a man.  His request that the disciples pray with Him certainly was a man needing the support of His friends.  And sweating blood comes from fear.  Certainly if omniscience was being used, there’d be no need for fear.  Jesus was experiencing a demonic attack beyond anything we could imagine.
  4. The Trinity loved each other, were in unity with each other, and were unused to being separated from each other.  After all the torture and being placed on the Cross, those were not the reasons Jesus said, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” or “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? “.  Jesus, as a man, could have no recollection of the plan of salvation or the reality that the Trinity would be reunited.  There was total anguish, as part of the payment for our sin.
So, when we look at verses 13 and 14, we see someone willing to go through all of that just for us.  Laying down His life was not just words.  There was immense sacrifice involved.  And that thought was behind verse 13.  When we look at verse 14, we have to consider that the different parts of the Trinity were friends with each other and to us, in ways and depth that we won’t be able to fathom until we’re in heaven with God and everything is shown to us.  And the Son obeyed the commandments of the Father so that it could happen.

John 15:15 (KJV)  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.
When it was time, Jesus shared God’s thoughts and heart with His followers.  As a man, that was a limited edition of the full scope of God’s love and God’s plan.  But it was enough, when He was functioning as a man, to keep Him going.  Plus, it was enough to let us know there was more that was worth going after.  In both cases, it was no longer just following rules and regulations.  There was insight into God’s heart and love.  We went from being servants, who only needed to know what should be done, to friends who were given an explanation of why it’s necessary.

John 15:16 (KJV)  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
That is a very interesting verse.  I had an interesting online discussion with someone, recently.  They were upset because one denomination taught heavily about certain pet doctrines, while another spent a lot of time on other pet doctrines.  I only got into some basics.  That would be food for a much deeper discussion in the future,  But, assuming they are all godly people, isn’t this verse saying they were chosen by God to be there?  Chosen and ordained.  I guess then, if we’re railing against these people’s shortcomings (as we see them). aren’t we really railing against the selection made by God?  The next thing Jesus says in that verse is that they are chosen to bear fruit and that this fruit would remain.  They are there for a reason and the reason is based on God’s choice.
The last part of this verse is a subject I almost want to shy away from.  We all know the verses about asking correctly (for the right things).  And we know about being in the right spiritual state.  Too often, if there’s prayer for something that doesn’t seem to be answered, someone will immediately suggest that there was something wrong with the prayer or the person praying.  I’d like to suggest that God’s sovereignty can have far more to do with it.  He may know in His omniscience that the timing is wrong or there’s something better.  And, wanting to bless that person, His answer is delayed or something totally different.

John 15:17 (KJV)  These things I command you, that ye love one another.

There’s the ultimate goal of everything we’ve read so far in this chapter.  It’s so important that Jesus repeats it twice in five verses.  That we might love each other.  As Jesus says two chapters from here, He wants us to be one as He and the Father are one.  Think of the Trinity, think of the marriage of Jesus and His bride.  Those are the greatest possible examples.  None loses their individuality, yet there is a oneness that goes beyond just unity.  God’s intent is that we experience, in an ever increasing way, the oneness that we’ll have in eternity.  What an awesome thought!  We grow closer to God and more like Him, at the same time.  And God planned it by putting the right people in the right places to help us grow.

There’s a present day reason for loving our brethren.  And we’ll get to that, next time.

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