Because of the comment in John 14:31, “Rise, let us go from here,” I think Jesus led His disciples out of the upper room and gave the remainder of this discourse en route to Gethsemane where He would be arrested and carried away to die. But there were still some things He needed to say before He left His friends.
The first section of this chapter is a core competency for disciples. Jesus explained His connection with believers in terms they readily understood: it was like a grapevine. Jesus, the vine, gives life to the branches and produces fruit (His own character) through them. He is glorified when we “abide” in Him, staying tightly connected to Him through obedient, loving surrender. When we do that, His life flows through us and His character is manifested in our words, our activities, and our attitudes.
There is a warning here, too: those who have only a superficial connection to the vine and therefore evidence none of Christ’s character are cut off and burned. Yes, that is a reference to hell…a tragic end for those who think that being acquainted with Jesus is the same as abiding in Jesus.
The words that follow the vineyard metaphor are so encouraging. Jesus expressed the highest degree of love for His disciples (v.9), promised to infuse them with a full measure of His holy joy (v.11), and called them His chosen friends (v.13-16). What an honor! I am a friend of God!
Jesus expects His followers to love each other (v.12). We are not called to merely coexist with fellow believers or to just endure their company, but to love them with the love of Jesus. That is only possible when we “abide in the vine” so that His love flows through us.
In contrast to the love Jesus expects of us, we should expect hatred from the world. But we must keep loving, keep witnessing about Jesus, and keep relying on the Holy Spirit (v.26-27).