Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. 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 15:13-15
Friends of God
It is an awesome thing to be called a friend of God. Exodus 33:11 tells us, "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend," while there are three references to Abraham being called God's friend (2 Chron 20:7, Is 41:8, Jms 2:23).
Apart from theses two great men of faith no-one else in Scripture is regarded as a friend of God.
We make a mistake if we think that Jesus is inviting us to be mates or buddies. The word friend within the context of a Covenant is a technical term meaning a partner in the Covenant.
There is a clear example of this in 1 Samuel 20:42.
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
It is clear from the account leading up to this verse that the two men were already friends in the usual sense of the word. But here they were making a covenant - they called upon the Lord as a witness, swore that their families would be loyal to one another for ever and so became covenant friends. This is why David brought Jonathan's son Mephibosheth into his household (2 Sam 9). It was not a mere gesture or a random act of kindness, it was the outworking of the covenant between the two men.
Jesus Our Friend
Jesus is our Covenant Friend. We are partners with Him in the New Covenant. This means He has the absolute right to demand we fulfil our side of the agreement: to come to the Father through Him, to love Him and our Covenant brothers and sisters, to keep His commands, abide in Him and testify about Him.
Equally, we have the right to appeal to Jesus, on the grounds of the New Covenant, that He will keep His promises to, for example, to empower us through the Holy Spirit, answer our prayers and make us fruitful.
There is nothing matey or casual about this friendship. It is a robust relationship with the heart of the matter being to bring God's kingdom of love into reality in our lives, in the church and in the world.