Dear Friend,

Jesus created the universe. (John 1) Jesus died to save the world. (John 12) Jesus shares such majesty with his Father that he could overwhelm us with dread. (Revelation 1) And yet, as our glorious Creator and Redeemer God, Jesus says, “I have called you my friends.” (John 15:15) In the Willowdale Gospel reading for Sunday, John 15:1-17, Jesus gives us a friendship like no other.

In his book, A Friendship Like No Other, William A. Barry points out that coming to know Jesus as a friend includes experiencing hardships. Jesus’ family considered him out of his mind, and Jesus’ teachers considered him demon possessed. (Mark 3) Jesus himself tells us all to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses, (Mark 8) and Jesus told one devout young person to sell everything he owned. (Mark 10) And yet, as we persevere with Friend Jesus, we will also reign in a new creation with King Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:12) We will experience a joy like Frodo’s faithful friend Sam in Lord of the Rings. After feeling that he was dead, Sam learns that “everything sad is going to come untrue.” So he says, “I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I ever heard!” (Quoted by Barry in Friendship)

When I try to picture what perseverance and joy with Jesus our Friend looks like for me and others in situations like mine, I think of Jesus’ parable in Luke 15—usually called the Parable of the Prodigal Son, better called the Parable of the Waiting Father with Two Lost Sons. The parable comes to mind because I manage to combine the worst qualities of both the prodigal and the elder brother. Yet Jesus runs to meet me and pleads with me in my darkest places. He waits for me to mature into an adult child of God, who shares with him the work of our Father in heaven. Jesus calls you and me his friends because, as he says, “I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” (John 15:15)

Jesus hears from his Father and makes known to us “the mystery of God’s will.” (Ephesians 1:9) God’s will is to gather up every creature in heaven and earth into right relation with Christ. (Eph. 1:10) When we share in that work, we live as adult children of God and faithful friends of Jesus. So picture yourself at the table with the prodigal family in Luke 15. The homecoming party has ended; a glad work day has begun. How do you hear our Father calling you to participate in the cosmic salvation? What do you hear our Friend Jesus making known to you in that life-giving, joy-sharing work of the Lord?