Genuine friends of Jesus are chosen, appointed, even commanded to love. That is a succinct summary of John 15:12-17. And real friends are loved, beyond that which even they could design:
“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”
~John 15:16 (NRSV)
Jesus’ love for his disciples—without favouritism against us—was exemplary so far as friendship is concerned. He shared with them as intimately as anyone could. He trusted them, and even when they deserted him, he trusted them again, putting a divinely human identity to forgiveness. He showed us what friendship looks like. Never a more compassionate, patient, selfless, or empathetic friend could anyone have but Jesus. Think of the safest, worthiest possible friend and that vision may come close to the friendship we have in the Lord Jesus.
But we’re mistaken if we think friendship with Jesus comes without some voluntary responsibility. Jesus qualifies, in this passage, what it means to be a friend of Jesus.
Chosen As A Friend Of Jesus’
We did not choose Jesus, though we thought we had at salvation. We merely agreed to open our hearts and minds to God. We had already been chosen. Jesus chooses everyone born of human birth. We’re chosen by God by the fact we live, and then by our volition to agree with God.
Everyone who has agreed to become a friend of Jesus’ was chosen by our Lord well before they realised or even knew him. That is the nature of God; coming far in advance, preparing the way well before our cognition. And such is the grace of God that we would be allowed to enjoy the thought that it was our idea.
Salvation—being a friend of Jesus’—was never our idea. It was always God’s. “We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
But friendship with Jesus, as a transaction, is only completed if we do what he commands us (John 15:14).
Appointed To Bear Fruit – Which Is Love
Having been chosen, and having understood our role under God, we’re now appointed to bear fruit, which is based in love. All fruitfulness, which is obedience, has its root in love, just as everything holy, or of God, finds its basis through love.
So not only are we chosen, but we’re appointed. We have a very specific role. To bear fruit is simply to love one another, and first of all ourselves.
Commanded To Be Fruitful In Love
Acceptance of our having been chosen, and our appointment to the office of fruitfulness, we’re now commanded to engage in a simple yet very profound thing.
Our fruitfulness is to abound in love, such that we love one another. That is when we know our fruitfulness is mature: when we love one another. When we do this, achieving fruitfulness through loving one another, we love God.
Friends of Jesus are chosen, appointed, even commanded to love. Since friendship is extended to all humanity, we must simply accept our role. That is to love one another as God loves us.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.