How to Become a Friend of Jesus — Matthew 4
First, before Simon (Peter) and Andrew became followers of Jesus to fish for people, they were disciples of John the Baptist. As John’s disciples they prepared themselves and made their lives straight for the coming of the Messiah into the world. Before they met Jesus, they did what John told them. They repented of their sins and they asked John to baptize them (as John would later baptize Jesus). Their turning from sin and their obedience to God’s command to be baptized demonstrated that they knew how to obey God and prepare their hearts to meet Jesus. Jesus would want someone like that to be one of His disciples and friends.
Second, since Peter and Andrew fished for a living, they stayed with John the Baptist as much as time allowed. They expected the Messiah to come any day and they wanted to be present when he arrived. Because they gathered regularly with John and his disciples as often as they could, they were present when John the Baptist pointed and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (see John 1:29-39). Jesus would want people who wanted to meet Him and learn about Him to be His disciples and friends.
Third, having heard John’s profession of faith in Jesus, they followed Jesus to learn from Him and they stayed with Him for a while. As often as they could and before He began His public ministry, they probably began meeting with Jesus to learn more from Him. Jesus would want people like that for His disciples and friends.
Fourth, having talked to Jesus, they began to tell others about Him. They had come to believe that Jesus was or might be the Messiah and they wanted others to meet Jesus too. Jesus would want people who would tell others to trust in Him for salvation to be His disciples and friends.
Fifth having spent time with Jesus, they knew Jesus, and Jesus knew their hearts. They had prepared themselves for the Messiah’s coming, so one day Jesus saw them fishing and He called them to follow Him. With good and sufficient reasons and a firm faith in Jesus as much as they knew about Him, rather than with a blind leap in the dark, they followed Jesus. Jesus would want disciples and friends who would obey Him immediately to help those in need; especially those who needed saving faith in Him.
Sixth, Jesus' disciples followed Him for at least three years. They learned from Him by His words and actions, and also by always choosing to do whatever Jesus said. They obeyed Jesus as their King, not because they always understood everything Jesus said or because they always knew why Jesus wanted them to do certain things (such as practice being a missionary under His direction; that is, practice fishing for people). They trusted Jesus would never mislead them, and Jesus would want friends who trusted Him.
Seventh, as disciples of Jesus Christ they advanced from being servants or followers of Jesus to becoming friends of Jesus. In John 15:12-15, Jesus said to His disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” Jesus’ disciples had learned to trust and obey Him, and they kept obeying Him in everything He asked them to do. Furthermore, they had become Jesus’ friends as Jesus taught them everything He had heard from His Father (something Jesus could not teach the political and religious leaders who would not obey Him). After three years, they had learned what their Master (Jesus) was doing, and would learn and remember more after they received the Holy Spirit. True friendship can be built only on the basis of knowledge, love, trust, and the willingness to sacrifice (even our lives) for others and to do God’s will. Jesus works to develop all who will follow Him into His friends.
We can see from these seven life passages of Jesus’ first disciples that Jesus’ friends do what God commands. Simon and Andrew began obeying God at least from the time of John the Baptist, who came to tell people how to prepare for the Messiah’s coming. If we are not enjoying friendship with Jesus, we can look back at the history of Peter and Andrew and ask ourselves: “Is there something I need to stop doing or do to obey God the Father and Jesus? Do I need to truly believe something about Jesus that I have refused to believe in the past? Have I accepted Jesus as my Savior and obey Jesus as my Lord? Do I spend time with Jesus in prayer and Bible study because I love Jesus and Jesus loves me?”
Having become a friend of Jesus, we can maintain our friendship with Jesus by praying to Jesus and prayerfully listening to Jesus as we study the Bible, the written word of God. As we pray and study the Bible, we need to tell Jesus that we want to do whatever He wants us to do and go wherever He wants us to go. Being friends with Jesus involves more than wanting to obey the Ten Commandments with the help of the Holy Spirit, as important as obeying God’s commandments are with the Spirit’s help. Being friends with Jesus involves asking Jesus to show us ways that we can share our knowledge of Him with others as well as His love and our love for them. All of us are different and God has given us different gifts; therefore, Jesus will prepare us to love and serve others in many different ways. When we wake up every morning asking Jesus to tell us what He wants us to do that day to love and serve others, we can truly enjoy friendship with Jesus and Jesus will enjoy His friendship with us.
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