We are now days away from celebrating the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. This single event defines the fullness of our faith. Without the resurrection, we are left with no hope for what lies beyond the grave. But in the resurrection, we find a reason to endure the trials of this life and look forward to the promise to be fulfilled.
In Jesus’s final gathering with his disciples, he offered them a word of encouragement I believe we too can participate in. Jesus told the disciples that he no longer considered them servants. After all of their time together he had shared with them and talked with them about all that the Father had given to him. Now, as a result, they were ready to transition from those who were receiving to those who could give to others.
How do we know this is true? Jesus tells them he no longer called them servants but that he now considered them to be friends.
There is a big difference between a servant and a friend. The biggest of the differences is a servant does not have the same kind of access that a friend does. Servants cannot call upon their master and seek the same kind of comfort that a friend offers to a friend.
The reality this is describing is that at the end of our journey with Jesus we should be able to consider him our friend. In this case, what I mean by the journey is the journey of discipleship. That time where there is intentional and specific training, instruction, and encouragement to live out what is being learned. But there comes a moment we stop being students and we must begin to live for ourselves. Not ignoring what we have learned but according to what we have learned.
It has become my practice whenever I enter into a discipleship relationship to tell them from the beginning, “At the end of this discipleship process, however long the Lord gives us, if we are not better friends I will have failed to have discipled you properly.”
This mindset comes from what Jesus told his disciples. At the beginning, there was a great deal of transfer of information and correction from Jesus to the disciples. But as they matured they became more than just receptors of information and truth. Whether or not the disciples truly understood this does not change the fact that Jesus said this was his desire and his intention.
Whether or not we have ever felt like this about those who have discipled us in the past does not matter for how we should move forward. When we realize what Jesus was trying to do in and through us we become accountable for that.
And so as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the fulfillment of God’s great promise of salvation we should give thanks to Jesus Christ who is that friend that sticks closer to us than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus is the greatest friend we will ever have. Let us learn from him and be good friends with those whom we journey within this life. Even if it is only for a short time.