The Upper Room Discourse 33 Rabbi Michael Weiner
John 15:13-14 No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.
I couldn’t resist putting these two verses together. Yeshua’s profession of love for His friends, coupled with a serious definition of who His friends are. This is actually a reverse of our pattern of if/then statements. This is a then/if statement. Let’s unwind it. “If you do what I command you, then you are my friends.”
And what is the benefit of being Yedidiya? Yedidiya is Hebrew for “friend of God.” The benefit of being God’s friend is that you will be the recipient of the greatest love there is. God has laid His life down for His friends. My friend of blessed memory, Paco Platillero, used to call it “finger lickin’ good.” I call it, good news not to be missed. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Interesting that the sinner’s prayer is not mentioned in the Bible. Even so, most versions of the sinner’s prayer (see the RT below) contain a promise to serve God “to the best of my ability.” Yeshua may have had that thought and much more in mind when He spoke the words of John 15:14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.
Rabbi Trail: Here is a version of the sinner’s prayer. “Dear Lord in Heaven, I know that I am a sinner. Right now I repent for my sins and ask for Your forgiveness. I deserve to go to hell. I believe that Yeshua HaMashiach died on the cross for my sins. I do now receive him as my personal Lord and Savior. I promise to obey you to the best of my ability. Please save me. In Yeshua’s name, Amen.” End RT.
We want to completely separate faith and works, but God never quite seems to get there. Just look one chapter earlier. John 14:15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. Or look at Jacob 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can such faith save him?
To be clear, we cannot work our way into God’s good graces. If we could, there would have to be a “cut-off,” some point at which some get in and others are kept out. Any “cut-off” would nullify the cross. This would be most egregious to the Father. There is no such dividing line in the kingdom of God.
However; it is also true that a person of true faith will live a life in which there is evidence of that faith. That evidence is a life of obedience. We can’t claim to be followers of Yeshua unless we are following His example of obedience. I’ve got two verses to prove this is true … John 7:17 If anyone wants to do His will, he will know whether My teaching comes from God or it is Myself speaking. And 1 John 2:3 Now we know that we have come to know Him by this – if we keep His commandments.
Keeping God’s commandments is not salvation by works, it is evidence of salvation by grace. Moses tells us why God gave us the commandments. Deuteronomy 4:40 You must keep His statutes and His mitzvot, which I am commanding you today, so that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and so that you may prolong your days in the land that Adonai your God is giving you for all time. Is there some part of that you don’t want? Obey God and enjoy His favor.