Jesus gathered a band of disciples around him, like any Jewish rabbi would have done, to learn and live with him as a travelling school. Near the end of his life, Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
(John 15:12-15 ESV)
Jesus says he is their friend. Not just their teacher or leader, he is their friend. When I went to graduate school, I had such a hard time with this – knowing my professors wanted to be called by their first names, not titles and surnames. I was used to a real separation between students and teachers, but that was all changing.
One of them I have kept in touch with, and collaborated with for many years. I know a few things about this prof’s home life that I’d never know as a student, but that I know as a friend. It’s a transition Jesus is just forcing on his students – to become his friends. He washes their feet at the Last Supper, acting as their servant, rather than their master. This might seem natural enough – they did travel, study and live with him.
We see him as a friend with others elsewhere in the gospels.
In John 11 there is a story of Jesus and a family that comes up more than once in the gospels: Mary, Martha & Lazarus. When Jesus doesn’t get there in time to see his sick friend, and maybe even save him with a miracle healing, his sister says, “If you had been here, my brother would not be dead.” When Jesus goes to the grave of his friend, he weeps.
He mourns the loss of a friend, and the grief of two others. This is but one of many examples of Jesus forming deep personal relationships with people.
Question: Now, how do you react to Jesus being a friend, not just a teacher?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]