Friends of God
Remember what finally forced Pontius Pilate’s hand, and brought him to the decision to allow Jesus’ crucifixion? It was the Jewish leaders’ accusation that, if Pilate let him go, he would no longer be Caesar’s friend (John 19:12). This was a specific rank or position within Roman society. To be a “friend of Caesar” conferred a certain level of prestige and authority. King Herod, according to some records, was considered a “friend of Caesar.” He was demoted to “subject” by Augustus after botching both a Roman census and the task of subduing bandits from Arabia.
Jesus’ words take the disciples up a notch. They – and we – are no longer servants of God, but friends. By his death and resurrection Jesus is privileging us. With our sin forgiven, we can now approach the Father freely, and are allowed to know more about his plans than others. We understand that we have been chosen by God, given the title of children and friends, and called upon to show God’s grace and mercy to a world teetering under the weight of the Fall. Unlike Pilate, we are not given the title “friends” to further our own ambitions, but rather to further God’s ambition that the world not be condemned, but saved.
Gracious God, through your Son you have called us your friends. Help us to serve others just as you have served us. Amen.