I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
In Biblical times, the highest praise that could be accorded a person was to call them a “servant” of God. Moses was called a “servant” of God (Deuteronomy 34:5) as was Joshua, who led the nation of Israel into the land of Canaan (Joshua 24:29). David, the great King of Israel and the “man after God’s own heart”, was called God’s “servant” (Psalm 89:20). In our own day, distinguished clergy and leaders are often introduced as a “servant” of God. Most people would feel highly honored to be called God’s “servant”.
Yet, in today’s text we see Jesus affectionately bestow on His disciples an even higher title than “servant”. Jesus calls them His “friends”. To prove that He counts them as His friends, Jesus tells them “everything” He has heard from His Father. He holds nothing back, but reveals everything to them.
Friendship is marked by a sharing of secrets and innermost thoughts and feelings. Lingering long after dinner, and just hours before He dies, Jesus shares the deepest secrets of His life. Jesus tells of His relationship with the Father, His life work and struggles, His thoughts and prayers for them. He lays it all out for His friends. They are best friends forever.
Jesus keeps no secrets from us. We await no further revelation about God. “Everything” to be revealed about the Father is revealed to us by Jesus. All the philosophies and religions of the world add nothing to the secrets Jesus tells us about the Father. All that belongs to the Father belongs to Jesus, and He shares it with His friends (John 16:15; 17:10). The Gospel of John glories in the revelation that Jesus brings to us about His Father: “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1:18).
Joseph Medlicott Scriven was a man acquainted with grief as well as the comfort of Jesus’ friendship. On the day before Joseph was to marry, he watched in horror as his fiancée was thrown off her horse into a river and drowned. Years later, he sat by the bedside of another fiancée as she died from pneumonia. Scriven devoted the rest of his life to caring for the sick and aging. When his mother was seriously ill in his homeland of Ireland, he was unable to go and be with her. So he wrote a poem to encourage her in her friendship with Jesus. Perhaps you know the first line of that poem, later made into a hymn:
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything
to God in prayer!
Is there another dignity so grand, or love so great: to know Jesus as our Friend, and be drawn close to our Father’s heart?
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?