On the night before He died, Jesus told us what a good friend He would be if we met one condition. He said to His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:13-14).
These words of Jesus convey the meaning of all He would do for us as our friend. They also convey what we must do to be His friends. Jesus laid down His life for us, which proves He is the greatest kind of friend we could have. As the Bible says, “for the joy that was set before Him,” He “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). He did that for His friends; He was loyal to the end of His physical life. What was this “joy that was set before Him?” It was the joy of knowing His death would allow us to be His friends forever in eternal glory.
If you want Him as your friend, you need to lay down your life for Him. He said, “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). This is the loyalty He expects of us if we will be His friend.
This means giving up your own ways of doing things and then doing things God’s way. Your own way of doing things leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). Your “old man,” the sinful person you have become, must be put to death (Romans 6:6). That is what Jesus wants you to do so He can start a friendship with you. Paul the apostle wrote of his death in Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This is the death you must die for Jesus to be your friend.
The Bible has examples of people who were friends with God. God called the biblical patriarch, Abraham, His friend. The Scripture says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23). Abraham met the condition of friendship with God. God said of him, “Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26:5).
Like Abraham, King David was a man who did all that God commanded him. God said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22). Because David did what God commanded, he was God’s friend.
A true friend is always faithful, and David knew the faithfulness of God. He wrote, “Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds” (Psalms 36:5). God was always faithful to David and made him a great king over Israel and gave him victory over his enemies. As a true friend of God, David did all of God’s will, and God was faithful to him. God will always be faithful to His friends. The Bible says, even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13).
True friends also confide in one another. We can trust a true friend to hear all our deepest thoughts and emotions. When God is your Friend, He takes you into His confidence. Christ said to His disciples, “I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). When God is our friend, He tells us His plans for us and for all of mankind. He wants His friends to know these things and reveals them to us through His word. David wrote of the things that God confides in those who love Him: “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (Psalms 25:14).
Like a true friend who wants to share everything with you, God wants to share His glory with us. He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26) with a plan for “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). God will share His existence with His friends for all eternity. As the scripture says, “we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
We can have God as our friend forever if we will do all that He tells us. As Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He wants you to share in His glory, and He died for you to make that possible. This is what it means that Jesus is our friend.