Jesus called His disciples friends. That is a huge statement. It begs the question, “what does it mean to be friends with Christ?” The process goes something like this. First we are called to follow.
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:18-19).
The first step towards eternal life is to obey the command to follow. Jesus is taking a walk. He sees two fishermen casting their nets. They are brothers, Peter and Andrew. They are hoping for a great catch. As Jesus observes these men, He reads their hearts. As our Sovereign over all things, Jesus gives a shout to these guys. In fact, Jesus was so determined to make contact with them; He did not excuse Himself from interrupting. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Without hesitation, these brothers left everything to follow. Not long after that, Jesus sees two other brothers, James and John.
And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him (Matthew 4:21-22).
This band of brothers did not hesitate, nor did they discuss this with their respective family members. It didn’t seem like the father of James and John had much to say about their departure. They left him holding the net.
It was not an action, rather a reaction to His call. Both families yielded their sons to Jesus. His call was to follow and they did. To be a follower could be up close or at a distance. Many follow all kinds of people, places and things, not to mention sports. For the most part, our technology allows many to follow from a distance. Nonetheless, to follow is to keep something or someone within reach, either physically or through communication. In reality, many of us begin our Christian journey by following. We follow by hearing about Jesus, and upon receiving Him as Savior and Lord. Then we begin to learn and grow into discipleship and serving Him. The greatest part is yet to come. We go from being a follower, to a disciple servant and then His friend. Jesus calls the disciples His friends and we also are His friends.
“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 NIV).
So there we have it. To sit at the table with the Lord requires us to be in fellowship, (friendship) with Christ and one another.
Let me take this a step further. At the Communion table, the examination process is important. Coming to the table is not some religious rite that we unconsciously perform. It is a time of self-examination. That if we have unresolved sin or conflict with a brother or sister this must be reconciled immediately. I remember a time when in college, we were in a communion service. One of my college friends had offended me. There was Jimmy sitting in front of us. The plate with the bread was two rows in front. As the tray got closer, I began to shake on the inside. I know I had to reconcile with my brother. I leaned forward and said, “Jim, you offended me with your words concerning my family. But I am here to tell you that I forgive you as I hope you will forgive me.” He turned around and smiled with sincere thanks. It was then when I realized the importance of self-examination as Paul taught the Corinthians.
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup (1Corinthians 11:27-28 NIV).
The communion service of that day stands out in my mind even to this day.