1 I am the true vine and my Father (God) is the gardener. In order to show what the Christian life is like, Jesus here gives the illustration of a vine and its branches. In the Old Testament, Israel was called a vine. But it became a barren and corrupt vine (Psalm 80:8-16; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21). God’s true vine is Jesus Himself.
We should remember that Jesus gave up His life not only for His friends, but also for His enemies (see Romans 5:6,8). He commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). It is true that He has not directly commanded us to lay down our lives for our enemies. However, true love does not ask, “Who is my friend and who is my enemy?” Love always gives, without calculation. Jesus gave everything for all men. His disciples should be happy to do likewise.
14 Jesus called His disciples friends, and He calls us friends today. But in order to be a “friend” of Jesus, one must obey His commands.
15 Jesus called His disciples friends, because He made known to them everything He Himself learned from His Father. He had even more to tell them, but they could not have borne it then (John 16:12). He would tell them later through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).
The disciples were no longer servants. A servant receives only orders from his master. The master does not have to give the servant a reason for an order. But Jesus treats us as friends. He takes us into His confidence. Through the Holy Spirit, He reveals to us everything we need to know.106
16 Men do not first choose to follow Jesus. Rather, Jesus chooses men to follow Him. First Jesus calls. Then men are free to follow or not to follow. But no man can follow Christ unless he has first been called (see John 5:37,44 and comment).
Jesus not only chose His disciples, but He also gave them an appointment. The appointment was to go, that is, to be witnesses. And their work was to bear fruit. Jesus told them, “I chose you … to go and bear fruit.” Jesus’ disciples were like branches. The work of a branch is to bear fruit. In the context of this verse, to “bear fruit” means primarily to bring others to faith in Christ (see verse 2 and comment).
Every Christian has been appointed to go and bear fruit. We may not be called to go far away. But we are all called to go. We are called to go at least to our own family and to our neighbors. Let no Christian think that he does not have to go and bear fruit. Just as every Christian is a disciple, so is every Christian a missionary.
The work God gives every Christian to do is a lasting work. If we are truly doing God’s work, that work will last. If we are bearing God’s fruit, that fruit will last. Let us each be certain that it is God’s work we are doing—God’s fruit we are bearing—and not our own. If we are truly doing His work according to His will, God will give us whatever we ask for in Jesus’ name. If we do what God says, He will do what we say! (see John 14:13; 15:7 and comments).
How many times we have prayed for grace and strength to bear fruit, but nothing seems to happen. Our request is not granted. And we ask: “Why has no answer come?” The reason is this: We have reversed the command given by Jesus in this verse. That is, we have first asked for grace and strength, so that we can go out and bear fruit with ease. But here Jesus says: “ … go and bear fruit. Then God will grant your request for grace and strength.” Only after God sees our willingness to obey will He give us the grace and strength we need to bear fruit for Him.
Here we can see an important truth: There is only one way we can bring glory to God and share in that glory ourselves, and that way is the way of obedience. Only when we are obedient will we receive the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-16). Only when we are obedient will Jesus be manifested in our lives (John 14:21). Only when we are obedient will God come and live in us (John 14:23). Only through obedience can we remain in Christ’s love (John 15:10). Only through obedience can we obtain Christ’s friendship (John 15:14). And only when we are obedient will we obtain the answer to our prayers. All of these great blessings come to us only when we obey Jesus.
There is one further thing that should be mentioned concerning this verse. There are three little words here—in my name. In the comment on John 14:13, it was said that the expression “in Christ’s name” means “in Christ’s stead.” When we pray, we must pray in Christ’s stead.
The following illustration shows us this truth clearly. Jesus is like a merchant who went away on a long trip. Before leaving, the merchant put his business into the hands of his servant. The merchant gave the servant full authority to manage his business during his absence. The merchant even gave the servant the authority to use his (the merchant’s) name.
Now a servant under such circumstances does nothing by his own authority. He does nothing in his own name. If he were to try to get his master’s money out of the bank in his own name, his master would certainly punish him. Why did the merchant trust his servant? Because his servant was obedient and trustworthy. It’s because the servant was obedient and trustworthy that the merchant was able to give him complete authority over his business—including even the right to use his name.
In the same way, when Jesus left this earth and went to heaven, He put all his work, His “business,” into our hands. He gave us full authority to use His name, so that we might be able to draw from His “bank account” all the riches and blessings of heaven. Servant of Christ! Learn to use His name properly! Let His name rule in your life. Concentrate on the work He has given you. Jesus says to us: “I have appointed you to go and bear fruit. I have appointed you to be my witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). I have appointed you to be streams of living water (John 7:38). I have appointed you to pour out upon a parched and suffering world all the riches and blessings of heaven.”
What have we done about our appointment? What are we doing about it now? From now on, let us stop asking for blessings for ourselves, such as joy, peace, and comfort. Rather, let there be only this thought in our minds: “I am not my own; I am His. I am His servant. My life has only one meaning and purpose, and that is to do His will.” And when we have made the doing of His will the sole desire of our lives, then He will come to us and lift us up, and say to us: “I no longer call you servants. … Instead, I have called you friends” (verse 15).
Servants of Christ! Take your appointment, and in obedience go and bear fruit to His glory.
17 See John 13:34 and comment.
18 If the world107 hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. Jesus’ meaning is this: “The world will indeed hate you, because it first hated me.” Let the disciples not be surprised. If the world hated Jesus, it will certainly hate His followers (see Matthew 10:24-25).
Notice that Jesus’ disciples are to be known by their love. Men of the world are known by their hatred.
19 The world hates the followers of Jesus because they are not of the world. They have been called out of the world to enter Christ’s kingdom. Even in this life, Christians have left the kingdom of darkness and have become citizens of the kingdom of God. That is why Satan, the prince of this world (John 14:30), is so angry. Christians have left his kingdom. He hates them. And all those under Satan’s rule, that is, all who are of the world, also hate Christians. There will always be hostility between Christians and the world (Satan’s kingdom). Just as there can be no reconciliation between good and evil, truth and falsehood, light and darkness, so there can be no reconciliation between Christians and the world.
20 Servants usually receive the same treatment from others that their master receives. Those who persecuted Jesus will persecute His disciples also, because the disciples will do the same things Jesus did. They will be lights in the darkness. Men of the world hate the light, because the light exposes their evil deeds (see John 3:19-20 and comment). That is why the world persecuted Christ, and that is why the world will persecute Christ’s disciples.
In the same way, those who obeyed Jesus’ teaching will obey the disciples’ teaching also. But those who obey the disciples will be fewer in number than those who persecute them. So it has been with Jesus’ disciples in every generation (see Matthew 10:24-25; John 13:16 and comments).
All faithful Christians will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus sends us out as sheep among wolves (Matthew 10:16). But let us remember that those who share in Christ’s sufferings will also share in His glory (see Matthew 5:10-12; Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 4:13-14).
21 Jesus said to His disciples: “They will treat you this way because of my name, that is, because of me.” The world treats Jesus’ disciples badly because the world does not know God. And the world does not know God because it does not recognize and accept Jesus, who is the revelation of God.
22 If Jesus had not come to earth, the Jews would not have been guilty of the sin of rejecting God’s Son. Jesus did not mean that the Jews would have been totally guiltless and without sin if He had not come. Even the best Jews were sinners, just like all other men (Romans 3:9-10). He only meant that they would not have been guilty of rejecting the true revelation of God. When the Jews rejected Christ, they rejected God; this was their greatest sin. If Christ had not come, they would not have fallen into that sin. Christ’s coming into the world resulted in the condemnation of all those who rejected Him (see John 3:18 and comment).
23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. The followers of other religions say: “I believe in God, but not in Christ.” But it is not possible to fully believe in the true God without believing in Christ. He who rejects Christ rejects God also (see John 12:44-45 and comment). And to reject Christ is the same as to “hate” Him. Therefore, he who rejects Christ hates both Christ and God.
Some people say: “I accept Christ, but I don’t accept His lordship over my life.” This also is impossible. Those who do not accept the lordship of Christ do not truly accept Christ. Men must accept Christ as their Lord and Savior—as the Son of God; otherwise they are, in effect, rejecting Him.
24 This verse adds to the thought of verse 22. The Jews not only rejected Christ’s teaching; they also rejected His works, His miracles. To refuse to believe in Christ was bad enough, but to refuse to believe His miracles was even worse. It showed an even greater hardness of heart on the part of the Jews. In spite of the great works of God that Jesus performed, the Jews continued to hate Him. And because they hated Jesus, they hated the Father too (verse 23).
Jesus’ miracles gave testimony that He had been sent from God (John 5:36; 10:25). When the Jews rejected Christ’s miracles, they rejected God Himself, because the miracles had been done by God’s power. Thus the Jews were without excuse. God in His mercy had given them signs; the signs were the miracles themselves. They had seen these miracles. They had seen Christ. And in seeing Christ, they had seen the Father (John 12:45). But they rejected both Christ and the Father. Their guilt was indeed great (see Matthew 11:20-24 and comment).
25 The Law, that is, the Old Testament, prophesied that the Jews would reject Christ. Here Jesus quotes from Psalms 35:19 and 69:4.
26 Then Jesus again mentioned the Counselor, the Holy Spirit (see John 14:16-17,26 and comment). Earlier He had said that God would send the Spirit. This time Jesus said that He Himselfwould send the Spirit. It’s saying the same thing: Jesus and God always act together.
The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus. When people hear and believe the Gospel of Christ, it is because the Holy Spirit has testified about Jesus in their hearts. Man’s testimony alone is never enough; in order for anyone to believe in Christ, the testimony of the Holy Spirit is essential. Christians do not “convert” other people; people are converted only by the Holy Spirit.
27 However, the disciples’ testimony was also essential. They had been with Jesus from the beginning. They were eyewitnesses.
In the same way, the testimony of Christians today is also necessary. The Holy Spirit has no audible voice. We are the voice of the Holy Spirit. We must testify to other people about Christ, or they will never hear (see Romans 10:14). Our testimony reaches their ears; the Holy Spirit then carries it to their hearts.