He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish? John 21:5
Friendship, I think, is one of the most important and powerful concepts in life. By comparison, though, I tend to value friendships that I’ve had for a long time more than I do new friendships. The reason is that the old ones have stood the test of time. Of my friends, for example, there are three or four that I know have seen me in varying shades of light over the years, but, they are still with me. They still maintain contact with me despite hundreds of miles of separation and the fact that we only get to hang out once or twice a year. If I was to sit down with any of them, now or at any time, just to chat over a drink, we would pick up right where we left off without much effort. They’ve seen the good and the bad in me just as I have seen them at their best and otherwise. Yet, we still enjoy our time together and appreciate each other’s existence. There’s a certain unconditional brotherly love that exists between my best friends and I.
Jesus was well aware of the sacrifices that his disciples made to follow him. He was just as aware of what was in the heart of each of his followers at every moment throughout their lives. He knew ahead of time that Peter would deny Him three times in one night and He lived through the pain of witnessing it as it happened. He knew that his group of original Jesus freaks scattered in all directions as He was drawing closer to and eventually hanging from the cross.
Yet, after His resurrection, he appeared to them repeatedly and affirmed His acceptance of them and their faith in Him. He kept his promise by sending the Holy Spirit to guide them. It was after a handful of them went out in a boat to fish early one morning and, not having much luck, they heard directions from the shore suggesting that they lower the nets into the water on the right side of the boat. Having nothing to lose, they did so and the nets came back so full that they could barely contain the bounty. Jesus then invited them to the shore and served them a bread and fish breakfast seasoned with the friendship of God.
It is this unconditional brotherly love that characterizes my relationship with God and the “religion” that I subscribe to.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13