In John 15:14, Jesus says, "You are my friends if you do what I command you."
In verse 10, He said, "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love."
We can't earn friendship with Jesus (salvation) by obeying His commands. Instead, our obedience is evidence of His work in us.
James 2:17 he says, "Faith without works is dead."
James isn't saying in order for someone to be saved they must do good works. He isn't saying the only way to have faith is to do good works. Instead, he's essentially saying, "Christ is the root. Works are the fruit."
We learned last week that Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. If a branch is to be fruitful, it must abide in the Vine. One of the fruits produced by abiding in Christ is obedience to God's Word. It's evidence of genuine belief. It's evidence that God has made His home in our heart.
It's amazing to see how God views people who abide in Him. I'm reminded of the time Jesus's mother and brothers came by to see Him. There was a large crowd gathered around Jesus, so large His mother and brothers couldn't get to Him. Eventually, word got to Jesus that His mother and brothers were there, and they'd like to see Him.
Jesus said, "Who are My mother and My brothers?" (Mark 3:33)
He answered His own question in verses 34-35, "Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother."
The first characteristic of being a friend of Jesus is loving one another as He loved us. The second is obedience to His commandments. The third is understanding the truths that He has made known to us from the Father.
Jesus says, in John 15:15, "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."
In the 70s, a Catholic pop band performed a song that talked about our mutual friendship with Jesus. But that's not what Jesus is talking about in John 15. Jesus is not our friend. He calls us friends because of how much He invests in us. We have nothing to reciprocate that friendship; it's one-way. We are still His slaves.
In verse 20 of John 15, Jesus says, "Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."
Being a friend of Jesus doesn't remove the master-slave relationship. Even Paul, James, and Peter called themselves "slaves of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1).
Allow the Master doesn't have to explain Himself, because He considers His slaves His friends, He chose to do so. Matthew 13:35 says, "I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world."
Jesus explained what lay ahead of Him, even though His disciples wouldn't understand until after He rose from the dead.
Love is openly sharing who you are with the people you love. Jesus not only did this with His disciples, but He also does it with everyone who puts their faith, hope, and trust in Him as Savior and Lord.
The more we read His Word, the more He reveals Himself to us. This is how we develop a deep intimate relationship with Him. That's how we become His friend.
The disciples didn't start out that way. They didn't become friends of Jesus the moment they were saved. How did it happen? They spent time with Him. And the more time they spend with Him, the more He revealed Himself to them, the more He considered them His friends.
When we read, study, believe, and obey His Word, we begin to increasingly display the characteristics of being Jesus's friend.
The disciples benefited from being part of "a small group." We do as well. God raises up spiritual leaders—pastors, Sunday School teachers, small group leaders—to encourage and build us up in our walk with the Lord. As they do, they are encouraged and built up as well.
These are just a couple of the reasons we are told not to neglect getting together with fellow believers (Hebrews 10:25).
As we study God's Word, we come to understand things the most brilliant unbelieving scientists and philosophers never can. We come to understand the nature of sin, redemption, and eternal life.
If we are truly Jesus's friend, we love one another as He loved us. We obey His commandments. We understand the truths that He has made known to us from the Father. Friends of Jesus are chosen by Him to bear fruit that remains as they depend on Him through prayer.