You (and Your Children) Have a Friend in Jesus

by Trillia Newbell September 4, 2023
“You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:14 (ESV)

Recently, I asked my daughter what makes a good friend. She answered without hesitation: “Honesty.”

I thought that was such an interesting answer for a 13-year-old girl. I would have thought she would have said “loyalty” or “kindness” or even “humor.”

She and I laughed at how similar we are to one another. One of the qualities I most value in a person, and especially in a friend, is honesty. When I think of John 15:14, and all the verses around it, I can’t help but wonder if we might be a little surprised by Jesus’ answer to the question of what makes a good friend.

John 15 starts with some familiar verses. Jesus told His disciples that they must abide, or remain, in Him (John 15:4). We get a helpful word picture — if we don’t abide, we will wither away and fall off the vine. The point is that we can’t grow more like Jesus apart from Jesus (John 15:5)!

Then in John 15:10, Jesus explains what it looks like to abide in Him: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (ESV). To abide in Jesus means to keep His commandments, and to keep His commandments means to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).

We display our love for God through our trust, prayer and devotion to Him. We abide through our relationship with Jesus. We pursue in love. We pray in love. We obey in love.

And here is the good news: We love Jesus because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We didn’t choose Him; He chose us to walk out our faith in obedience to Him (John 15:16). Apart from Christ, we cannot do anything; in Him, we bear “much fruit” (John 15:5, ESV). This is also good news to the weary person who thinks she must muster up strength to pursue and know Christ and to love her neighbor. He provides the grace and the strength.

The fruit that Jesus speaks of in John 15 is simply evidence of a relationship with Him. It is a relationship that He initiates through and by His sovereign love. In this chapter, Jesus reminds us that there is no greater love than someone laying down his life for his friends. He then says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).

Jesus tells us that we are His friends (let that soak in for a minute) if we obey His command to love, and that command is fulfilled through abiding. As we abide in Him, we will bear the fruit of righteousness. This does not add to our salvation by grace alone through faith alone, yet it confirms our transformed hearts.

And the offer to be Jesus’ friend — the same Jesus who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, the Alpha and Omega, the beautiful One who bore our sins and transgressions — is irresistible for the Christian.

As with all things we want to teach our children, if we want to teach them this glorious truth, we must first believe it for ourselves. You are a friend of Jesus — if you obey Him. Jesus is your friend because of His great love. Because of your sin, you have failed your greatest friend, but the good news is that He has never and will never fail you.

Aren’t we glad that Jesus is honest with us?! He tells us exactly how we can be His friend. Abide in Him, and He will abide in you. He who began a good work in you will complete it (Philippians 1:6). “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24, ESV).

Lord, I know that my temptation is to run to lesser things. I’m tempted not to obey You. But, Jesus, thank You that You provide a way for me to say “no” to my sin through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Jesus, thank You that You give me the power to obey. When I am weak, You are strong. Thank You for being my friend, my Savior, my Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


For more encouragement for your kids to embrace Jesus as their closest friend, you can preorder a copy of Trillia Newbell’s book, Jesus and the Gift of Friendship.



You can follow Trillia on Instagram @trillianewbell and at

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Jesus and the Gift of Friendship by Trillia Newbell. To celebrate this book, Trillia’s publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, September 11, 2023.}


James 2:17, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (ESV).

Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace. We could never earn God’s favor — yet we receive it if we are in Christ. We know that we are Jesus’ friends if we obey Him. What does it mean, then, that faith without works is dead? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

© 2023 by Trillia Newbell. All rights reserved.

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