I Chose You To Love, Obey, Befriend, Teach, And Pray

John 15:12-17 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.


One thing common to all people is the need to make sense of the big questions in life.

Who am I? Why am I here? Is there any ultimate meaning? Why is life hard? What is good and evil? What happens after I die?

We’re not always conscious that we’re trying to find consistent answers to these kinds of questions, but it is a phenomenon universal to all mankind. It is a track that is perpetually running inside of us. That’s part of what it means to be made in the image of God. Not having answers is part of the restlessness that is common to all apart from Christ, even as having answers is a part of the peace of the Spirit for all who are in Christ.

Another of the big questions in life relates to our wills. Am I free? Why do I desire the things I desire? Is there anything outside of me that has influence on me or authority over me?

The heart of this passage is part of the answer to this last set of questions. To be clear, this passage does not give the final word on free will or answer every question we might have on the relationship between God’s sovereignty and our freedom. What it does do, however, is give us a clear statement on the lordship of Jesus and the fact that it shapes our choices in significant ways. Jesus has and uses authority to choose a people to follow Him as well as to determine the purpose of our following. Let’s make sure we don’t read more into this passage than what’s in it, but let’s be equally sure not to miss what’s there.

In other words, the big idea of this passage is that Jesus chose His followers (they didn’t choose Him) and He did so in order that they might bear lasting fruit among all mankind. Throughout the six verses, Jesus named five specific kinds of abiding fruit: love, obedience, friendship, teaching, and prayer. Consequently, the main takeaways are to abide in Jesus and out of that, give ourselves to love, obey, befriend, teach, and pray.

Before I pray, I’d like to quickly remind you that we are in the last quarter of John’s Gospel. His overall purpose for recording the things he did concerning Jesus’ life and ministry is to convince his readers that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, so that his readers would believe in Jesus and be saved (20:31).

To that end, John spent eleven chapters recalling the first three+ years of Jesus earthly ministry and then the final nine chapters recalling the events of the final week of Jesus life on earth. We’re in chapter fifteen, the events of which (along with all of chapters 13-17) took place on Thursday evening, the night of the Passover meal, the night of His betrayal and arrest, and the night before His crucifixion. Our passage consists of Jesus’ words to His eleven disciples (Judas had already left to betray Him), His closest followers.

The main thing for us to get our heads around in the way of background is that our passage records some of Jesus’ final words on earth. They are Jesus’ final instructions for His disciples. He explained to them the things they needed to know in order to carry on His ministry after He was gone. They are critically important.

Let’s pray.


As I mentioned in the introduction, the driving force of this passage is found in v.16. In essence, everything around it is an expansion of it. Look again, therefore, at the first part of v.16 with me.

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…

For some time, Jesus had been explaining many things to His disciples. He washed their feet and explained that their charge was to be servants. He explained that He would die for the world and that they were to tell the world about it. Jesus told His disciples that they were to love one another differently than the world loves. He explained that there was no way to be reconciled to the Father, but through Him. Jesus charged His followers to do the works they saw Him do (and greater still). He told them that the Holy Spirit would come to minister to and through them. He promised them peace, beyond anything found in this world. He explained that life, full life, and good fruit are found in Him alone. And Jesus explained that if they would remain in Him, His followers would receive blessing upon blessing.

All of that presented the disciples with a set of questions. “Why me?” “Why us?” “How did we come to be charged with such things and to receive such blessings?” Whether they realized it at the time or not, they were being confronted with some of life’s biggest questions.

And Jesus’ answer—Jesus’ clear, humbling, and critical answer—was that the disciples had lived with Jesus for years, heard Him teach, watched His miracles, and were with Him right then in the upper room, hearing all of these things, receiving all of these commands and promises, not because they chose Jesus, but because He chose and appointed them. The disciples were not looking for Jesus, He found them. Clearly, they needed to choose Jesus as well, but they were only able to do so because He first chose, approached, and called them.

What’s more, Jesus reiterated what He’d chosen them for: “that you should go and bear fruit and that our fruit should abide…”. Jesus chose His followers in order that they might be united to and abide in Him, in order that they would bear good and lasting fruit. And again, the rest of the passage describes five familiar abiding fruits they would bear: love, obedience, friendship, teaching, and prayer.

Before we consider Jesus’ words on each of those fruits, would you take a minute to consider two things with me? First, Jesus is God and you are not. His ways, His will, His commands, His promises, His priorities ought to rule, not yours. While many struggle with the idea that God might infringe upon their choices/free will in any way, let me suggest that if you’re ever given the choice between Jesus’ choice and yours, determine to go with Jesus’ choice 100% of the time. If you’re ever given the choice between God’s will and yours determining the outcome of your life, determine now to go with God’s will 100% of the time. Learn the absolute goodness of Jesus’ own words, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42) and echo them continually. That He chose you is good news indeed, for if it were left entirely up to you, you would not choose Him (Romans 8:7).

Second, as we now consider love, obedience, friendship, teaching, and prayer—the abiding fruit Jesus chose us for—ask the Spirit to give you an increasing appetite for those things and pick one to really go after this week. As we contemplate this passage, remember, the aim is a renewed mind leading to genuine transformation. Truer thinking, leading to more godly living. Orthodoxy driving orthopraxy. At the same time, however, as Jesus made clear in vs.1-11, the kind of much, good fruit that Jesus promises and prescribes is ultimately the result of being connected to Him. Just as His followers only chose Him because He chose them first, we will only work to bear good fruit because we are first connected to Jesus.

Love One Another (12, 13, 17)

With that, let’s consider the five fruits of vs.12-17. The first fruit Jesus chose His followers to bear in a lasting way through being connected to Him is a familiar one. We see it in the first and last verses.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

You may remember that Jesus first said these words during the Passover meal (recorded back in 13:34), earlier on Thursday evening. It’s where we get Maundy Thursday from, “A new commandment (maundy) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

The key, as we saw in the earlier sermon, is not that the new command is to love fellow believers—that had been God’s command from the beginning. Instead, the new part of the command is loving as Jesus loved; both what had already been revealed to them and what was soon to be. Again, the important part of Jesus’ command wasn’t “love one another;” it was the kind of love they were to have for one another—”as I have loved you” love.

To make that clearer than it had ever been, Jesus said, 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends;” which He was mere hours away from doing. Jesus would soon lay His life down for His friends in a way no one had ever done before.

One time when I was young, a group of friends and I got caught causing some trouble. It would have led to a significantly disproportionate consequence for one of our friends, so when the rest of us went to fall on our sword, we dropped him off and took the blame without him. I felt pretty noble about that. It felt like a kind of laying down my life for my friend (I had no idea about this passage at the time. I certainly wasn’t trying to obey it).

But Jesus had something quite different in mind…

God is glorious beyond measure. He created us to glorify Him in all we do. That’s our purpose in life. That is the standard by which God has determined to measure all mankind against, always. The clear problem is that we do not do that. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Worse yet, from the beginning (Genesis 3), God has made it clear that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). All who sin deserve to die for our rebellion against God. We have all sinned and, therefore, we all deserve death.

What Jesus meant by His words in v.13, which was only beginning to take shape in the disciples’ minds, was that He was going to go before the God the Father and offer Himself as the just payment for the sins of mankind. That’s the significance and glory of the cross. Because He was a sinless man, His sacrifice would be acceptable. Because He is the Son of God, He was sufficient to pay for all the sins of all who would trust His payment.

In other words, while Jesus was leaving an example for His followers to follow, more importantly, He was describing for them the unique way in which He was about to express His love for them.

And so, Grace Church, consider again this morning, the staggering, life-laying-down love of Jesus for you and turn that love back onto the people around you, your brothers and sisters in Christ, your friends. Love them by serving them. Love them in costly ways. Love them by being generous, sacrificial, and kind even when they are not.

But there’s one more aspect of this that is most glorious of all. Jesus loved in such a way that makes His enemies His friends. Love one another and love that others might become one of the anothers. Love not based on how the non-believers in your life treat you, but based on how Jesus treats you in your sin. Love “so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior [your love] in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:16). That’s how Jesus’ loved. And He chose a people to abide in Him and bear the fruit of that kind of love in the world.

Obey Me (12, 14)

The second lasting fruit that Jesus chose the disciples to bear is another familiar one. We find the idea first in 14:15 , “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And again in 14:21, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me…”.

The basic idea is that love for Jesus is always tied to obedience. Jesus worked hard to ensure that His disciples knew that love and obedience can never be separated. (That’s obviously a fairly counter-cultural understanding of love. You can read more about it here.)

This same idea is embedded in v.12 (“this is my commandment…”) and made explicit and expanded on in v.14, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Not only is love for Jesus inseparable from obedience to Jesus, so too is obedience and friendship with Jesus.

We’ll come back to the friendship part of this next, but for now, I want you to see clearly that when Jesus said, 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…,” He had obedience in mind as one of the abiding fruits. He chose us to obey.

This is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when He wrote to the church in Ephesus, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (2:10).

From this charge of Jesus, let’s keep two things in mind. First, there is no legitimate understanding of Christianity in which obeying God is unnecessary or insignificant. The good news of the gospel is both that we need not obey as a means of being forgiven of our sins and that the same grace of God that forgives our sins in Jesus, changes our appetite (away from disobedience and toward obedience) and empowers us to obey.

And so, Grace, once again, to trust in Jesus is to have your sins entirely paid for by the righteous life and sacrificial death of Jesus entirely apart from your obedience (indeed, that’s the heart of what we’re trusting in). And, at the same time, it is a declaration that we long to obey every command of God with God’s help. That’s the lasting fruit Jesus chose us for and will certainly bear in all who truly believe.

Find the commands of God, therefore, and test your appetite. Are God’s commands increasingly the desire of your heart? Do you increasingly long to obey them? Are you growing to understand them as the straightest path to the greatest joy? Where that’s the case, you can rest assured that you are abiding in Jesus and that He chose you to bear abiding fruit.

Friendship with Me (14-15)

Love fellow Christians as Jesus loves us, obey Jesus’ commands, and be friends with Jesus—that’s the third abiding fruit Jesus chose us to bear.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

There are a few aspects of friendship with Jesus that we need to consider from these two verses: (1) Friendship and obedience are connected, (2) Friendship and servanthood are disconnected, and (3) Friendship and knowledge are connected. Let’s look a bit more closely at each.

First, friendship and obedience are connected.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

Like love, this is an unusual understanding of friendship. On the surface, it sounds kind of funny. Can you imagine saying that to any of your friends? If you did, can you imagine any of your friends replying with gladness? Just think of the conversation…

“Hey Suzy, we’re friends, right?”

        “Yes. Certainly”

“Good. I thought so. That means you need to do whatever I tell you.”

        “Sounds great. That’s just what I was hoping for. What’s first?”

It sounds pretty funny when you hear it like that. Is that what Jesus had in mind? Well, just like the relationship between love and obedience, the relationship between friendship and obedience is tricky on the surface, but sweet beyond belief in reality.

All relationships (every single one) find their true fulfillment only when they are properly ordered. Every marriage trouble you’ve experienced is due to some kind of disordering in one or both of you. The same is true for every challenging parenting situation, government interaction, and work drama. These are all relationships instituted and designed by God. They all exist for a particular purpose and that purpose is only accomplished when everyone involved functions (thinks, feels, says, expects, and acts) as God intends.

Here’s the key and the key distinction between friendship with Jesus and everyone else: For Jesus’ alone, His commands are always, always about how to properly order the relationship for full fulfillment and joy. He alone has all authority to command and He only commands His friends to do things that maximize the health of the friendship. Believe that, Grace.

Second, friendship and servanthood are disconnected.

15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…

Jesus is always King and, therefore, there is a sense in which we will always be His subjects. Jesus was not denying that. What He was highlighting, however, is that when we are in Him, there’s something else that more fundamentally defines our relationship with Him. More than servants, we are His friends.

Think on that for a moment. We are called friends of Jesus. The eternal Word of God, the One through and for whom all things were made, the One who holds all things together, the Son of God, the Christ, calls His followers His friends. Servants makes sense. Subjects makes sense. Even enemies makes sense. But Jesus calls us friends.

I wonder how differently we’d live if we really believed that. If your hope is in Jesus, if you really are in Him, then He is bearing the lasting fruit of friendship with you. He is for you. He is pleased with you. He delights to be with you. You have His pleasure. He’s glad when you come to Him. Servanthood and friendship are disconnected.

And third, friendship and knowledge are connected.

15 … the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

This is largely the focus of the next point so I’ll only mention it here. Friendship with Jesus means knowing Jesus—His heart, mind, plans, and desires. Indeed, one of the most significant aspects of any friendship is mutual knowledge of one another. The greater the friendship, the greater the mutual understanding. The less mutual understanding, the shallower the friendship. That is a universal truth. Servants merely do what they’re told, but friends explain their heart and motives behind their actions, requests, and even demands.

Jesus emphasized that in a new way. He allowed Himself to be known by His followers. He revealed more and more to them. Indeed, throughout their time together and especially in these final days of Jesus, Jesus revealed all that He heard from the Father to His followers and that was a key aspect of their change from being primarily His servants to His friends. Jesus chose His followers to bear the abiding fruit of friendship with Him.

Teach (15)

Fourth, Jesus bears the fruit of teaching God’s will to His people.

15 … all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

The purpose of Jesus making known the will of the Father was to help His followers know how to live as God intends. This includes making known to them the true nature of God (Father, Son, and Spirit), the truth about themselves, and the truth about the world around them. It is only once we have a right understanding of these things that we can begin to live as we ought and live in the fullness of life Jesus came to bring (John 10:10).

Grace, would you consider once again what a gift it is to know the will of God? Would you take a minute and thank God for not keeping us in the dark? He has revealed to us, through Jesus, the Word of God, all that He requires of us. We have what we need to make every decision in wisdom and for God’s glory, that we might bear abiding fruit.

Even more, as Jesus said later, He revealed the will of the Father to His followers so that they would teach the whole world “to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). It is our job not only to bear the fruit of learning and living God’s will ourselves, but also of teaching it to others. That’s the main fruit Jesus has in mind here—sharing the good news that the disciples were hearing with the world.

Share the gospel, Grace Church. Share all of it. Don’t change it or water it down in order to make it more appealing. It will always be folly to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). It will never be desirable to those who remain dead in trespasses and sins. No one will ever choose to believe any true form of the gospel until Jesus has first chosen them.

And so, let people know that the wages of their sin is death. Teach people the good news about how they can be reconciled to God and His world through faith in Jesus. Call them to repent of their sins. Tell them that Jesus is both savior and king. Teach them to obey all Jesus has commanded. Don’t shy away from any aspect of the truth of God’s Word. Say it in a way that’s not unnecessarily offensive (1 Corinthians 10:32), while knowing full well that it is an offense all by itself (Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8).

Teach your kids, your grandkids, your neighbors, and even go unto all the world (Acts 1:8; Mark 16:15) to proclaim the gospel and be witnesses to the truthfulness of the good news you’ve received. That is the kind of fruit Jesus was speaking of in v.16; lasting, abiding, God-glorifying fruit.

Pray (16b)

The final abiding fruit born by those chosen by Jesus is answered prayer.

16 … whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

This is the third time Jesus made such a promise. You can certainly read more about it HERE and HERE. The main point remains that God hears our prayers and is pleased to answer them when we offer them as He commands. We’ve seen that God will bear the fruit of answered prayer through us when we choose Jesus after He chooses us, make our requests in Jesus’ name, and ask while abiding in Jesus.

Abiding in Jesus is the ultimate source of the fruit Jesus calls for and promised. But asking for the will of God in Jesus’ name is the conduit through which that fruit comes. Prayer is the means primary by which the will of God is done one earth. Do you believe that, Grace?

Let me make a few, quick practical suggestions. First, spend some time this week considering passages (like John 15:5) that describe your dependence on God. Prayerfulness comes from truly believing that apart from Jesus you can do nothing, even as prayerlessness comes from a sinful sense of autonomy. Second, pray the Bible. Read a passage and turn it back to God in prayer. We try to model that almost every week in our pastoral prayers (“This morning, I’ll be praying through…”). If you’re not sure what that means or how to go about it, talk to your elder at DG this week. Third, get in the habit of praying as you go. Learn to make prayer ordinary. When someone shares something hard, don’t tell them you’ll pray for them, stop and pray for them right there. When you notice a marvelous work of God, immediately thank God for it. And finally, fourth, make a list of people to pray for each day this week. Start with your family on Monday. Maybe the unbelievers in your life on Tuesday. Your pastors on Wednesday. Your DG on Thursday. Those who are suffering on Friday. Our missionaries on Saturday. And Grace Church as a whole on Sunday. Let people know you are praying for them.

Answered prayer is a sweet, sweet, abiding fruit of those who are in Jesus.


The big idea of this passage is that Jesus chose His followers (they didn’t choose Him) and He did so in order that they might bear lasting fruit among all mankind. Throughout the six verses, Jesus named five specific kinds of abiding fruit: love, obedience, friendship, teaching, and prayer. Let us, therefore, in faith, cling to Jesus and give ourselves to bearing this kind of fruit. What an awesome gift and privilege that is ours through Jesus.