From now on I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends…
Not at all infrequently one who begins as a servant advances in regard till he becomes a friend. Opportunities arise for friendship, and both parties make the most of them. It is a poor business to make service a mere matter of commercial contract. Jesus must have noticed again and again this beautiful absorption of the servant in the friend; his disciples, too, would know of like instances. Jesus and his disciples had been constantly together, and thus the way was made for friendly feeling. As the season of separation drew near, Jesus sought to set before his friends the responsibilities and opportunities of friendship.
I. JESUS CALLS HIS DISCIPLES FRIENDS, BUT NONE THE LESS WERE THEY SERVANTS. Jesus wanted these very men for special service. Many true and loving friends he must have had besides them - men like that Lazarus whom Jesus once described as "our friend." But these few were wanted for special service; not that a few were enough, but Jesus began with a few that there might be all the more afterward. While Jesus was in the limitations of the flesh he could only have companionship with a few. But Jesus needs all the servants he can get. The idea of ample and efficient service underlies the parable at the beginning of the chapter. The branches are the servants of the vine-trunk. Note that those who are called friends do not therefore feel at liberty to speak of themselves as such. Paul, beginning his Epistle to the Romans, does not say, "Paul, the friend of Jesus Christ," but "Paul, the servant of Jesus Christ." The apostle's mind is full of the work he has to do as a servant of Jesus. Whatever names we have the right to bear, whatever privileges we enter into, never let us forget that we are here for service. He who is not the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, he who is not conscious of something in his life that is work for Jesus, never can be the friend of Jesus.
II. JESUS CALLS HIS DISCIPLES FRIENDS THAT THEY MAY BE BETTER SERVANTS, The work needs the best qualities in the highest degree. He who would do the best work for Christ must be likest him. He serves Jesus best who serves the neediest of men in their greatest need, and this can only be done when the heart is purged of self-seeking in all its forms. In all the work these disciples had hitherto been doing, they were thinking of themselves rather than of Jesus and others. That is the way of service according to a worldly spirit. We must learn to act as Jesus himself would act if he were one of his own servants; and that can only be done when we give Jesus full opportunity of opening himself' to us as a man opens himself to a friend.
III. THOSE WHOM JESUS CALLS FRIENDS HE REALLY TREATS AS FRIENDS. All this concluding discourse proves the depth and tenderness of the feeling. He could not so have spoken before. Partly such words were best with a farewell flavor in them. Partly the disciples had to grow into fitness for hearing them. And even when they did hear, much was appreciated in a very imperfect way. Still, Jesus treats them as friends; for all things he has heard from his Father he makes known to them. His disciples shall be sharers in his purposes and plans as far as they are able. It is as if the person for whom a great house is being built should call together all who are to be concerned in the erection, and show to them the plan and explain the purpose. Apostles and prophets lay the foundation-stone. Thousands of those whom Jesus honors with the title and treatment of friend are joined in building it, and then, when all is done, Jesus and his friends are to dwell in it together. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
WEB: No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn't know what his lord does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you.