This is an easy-to-understand Bible study in the "What is a Christian?" series.

3 pages.

Bible Study 6: To be a Christian is to be a Friend

6.1 Key themes🔗

  • A Christian is a friend of Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus trusts his friends.
  • Jesus wants to spend time with his friends.
  • Jesus wants his friends to stand up for him, even when it is difficult.
  • Jesus wants his friends to be friends with each other.

6.2 John 15:8-19🔗

15:8 My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.

15:9 Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love.

15:10 If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

15:11 I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.

15:12 My commandment is this – to love one another just as I have loved you.

15:13 No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.

15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15:15 I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.

15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.

15:17 This I command you – to love one another.

15:18 If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first.

15:19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.

© NET Bible

6.3 Not only a servant, but also a friend🔗

In the previous lesson, we said that a Christian is a servant of the Master Jesus Christ. But here, in John 15, Jesus says to his disciples: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends…” Yes, we are still servants of Jesus. But we are not only servants. Jesus also wants us to be his close friends.

Between God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, there has always been the most special friendship. The love between them is stronger than any other love. We can see this love in the words that the Father spoke on the day of Jesus’ baptism: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). 

Here, in John 15, Jesus Christ says to his disciples that he loves them just as his Father loves him (verse 9)! To hear this made the disciples very glad. The same words are true for every Christian. Jesus Christ loves you as his friend. Does it also make you glad to know this?

In the rest of this lesson, we will look at what it means to be a friend of Jesus Christ.

6.4 Jesus trusts his friends🔗

The first disciples had many sins and weaknesses. But still, Jesus took the disciples into his trust. He told them everything that he learned from his Father (verse 15). He trusted them with this important work: to love each other just as he loved them (verses 12 and 17). He sent them out to bear fruit and to pray in his Name (verse 16).

Jesus Christ does the same with his disciples today. Even though we are weak and sinful, he takes us into his trust.

As Christians, we have received so many gifts and so much authority from Jesus. He gave us his Word, the Bible. He gave us his own presence, through his Holy Spirit. He gave us the gospel to proclaim. When we do good, his Name is glorified. When we sin, his Name is harmed. He trusts us with everything that is important to him!

6.5 Jesus wants to spend time with his friends🔗

In John 15, Jesus is already facing death. When he leaves the room, he will go to the Garden of Gethsemane, and there he will be taken by Judas and the soldiers. Jesus knows that this is coming. But he still takes this time to talk with his disciples and to be with them. He wants them close to him. He loves them.

As a friend of Jesus, you are someone whom Jesus wants to spend time with. Your life is not only about serving and working for Jesus. Your life is also about spending time with Jesus. He wants to talk to you, through the Bible. He wants you to talk to him, through prayer. He gave you his Spirit. Through the Spirit, he is always with you and you are always with him.

6.6 Jesus wants his friends to stand up for him🔗

Jesus also warned his disciples that they would have many enemies (verses 18 – 19). The world does not love Jesus, and therefore the world will not love his friends. If you are a friend of Jesus, do not think that your life will be easy. Jesus suffered in this world, and you will suffer too. As a friend of Jesus, you must stand up for him even when it is difficult.

In that same night, Peter did not stand up for Jesus. He denied Jesus three times. Sometimes we are just like Peter. We protect ourselves, instead of standing up for Jesus. In those times, we should remember that Jesus is a friend who forgives. He has forgiven Peter (John 21). He is also ready to forgive us, when we ask for forgiveness.

Jesus’ forgiveness changed Peter’s life. His forgiveness should also change us. We should begin to stand up for him, just as Peter did (for example, see Acts 2). If we continue to deny him, it means that we are not really his friends. Then he will also deny us (Matthew 10:33).

6.7 Jesus wants his friends to be friends with each other🔗

Lastly, Jesus wants his friends to be friends with each other. This is so important to Jesus that he commanded his disciples many times: “Love each other” (see verses 12 and 17 of our passage).

If you are a Christian, you are commanded to love your fellow Christians. It does not matter what they look like, or how different they are from you. The church is a group of people who are very different, but who are friends in Christ.

Sometimes, when someone becomes a Christian, it can happen that this person loses friends. Even family members can turn away from him (or her). But God has promised to give such a person even more family and friends than he has lost (Luke 18:29-30). As Christians, we are each other’s closest friends and family members.

As a Christian, you are a friend of Jesus and of your fellow Christians. That is why it is so important to be there every Sunday, when your church comes together for worship. That is where your friendship with Jesus and with his people can grow.

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