"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 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. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My Name He may give you."
The outward evidence of union with Christ is found in bearing fruit; the inward bond that is the cause of such fruitfulness is love. Love is like the sap that passes back and forth between the Vine and the branches; it is vitally important.
Jesus does not ask His disciples to do anything that He is not also willing to do. He set forth a perfect example as He abided in His Father's love by submitting to Him in obedience (cf. John 5:30; 8:29).
"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" - Jesus, because of His obedience, possessed a complete and fulfilling joy in the knowledge of His Father's presence and approval. Jesus desires to share such with His disciples. Those who love God will likewise be filled with joy as they obey Him.
Those who allege that Christianity creates a sour and gloomy disposition in its adherents and that it requires of them a life void of pleasure are mistaken. Christians are privileged to experience the greatest possible joy on Earth, including: (1) fellowship with the best people on Earth, (2) union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, (3) satisfaction in doing good to others, (4) the consciousness of doing the Father's will, and (5) the assurance of eternal life and the anticipation of such.
"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (cf. Matt. 22:29; I John 3:11). Jesus' disciples are to strive to love each other as intensely as He loved them. He has set forth a standard of love that includes denying oneself and suffering for others. Certainly this type of love did not include arguing over who was the greatest, as they had been doing earlier that evening (cf. Luke 22:24ff).
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" - Love is demonstrated by activity and attitude (cf. I Cor. 13:1-8). The greatest test of love for a human is that of self-sacrifice (since it involves his most precious earthly possession). Jesus showed His perfect love in that He not only died for His friends but also for His enemies (cf. Rom. 5:6ff)! Can a Christian today honestly claim that he would lay down his life for others if he will not even minister to their daily needs?
"You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" - No one but deity could speak such words seriously without being offensive. If one desires to be a friend of Jesus, he must do what he is told. It is not sufficient to be friendly toward Him and then refuse to obey His will. Total submission to God will be exceedingly difficult for any who do not possess the key motivator--love.
"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" - One who is lacking in love toward God, if he serves at all, will serve as a servant and not as a friend. For a superior (i.e., Jesus) to speak to an inferior (i.e., the apostles, and all disciples in general) as a friend is a great exaltation. They were to obey Him out of love as His friends, for He had treated them as such by sharing with them all that He had heard from the Father. He certainly did not have to do such as the Master. As their Master He could have just commanded and expected obedience from His servants.
Jesus chose them as friends before they chose Him in that He "appointed" them as apostles without their requesting such, He trained them to "go and bear fruit" that would "remain," and He gave them the privilege and power of prayer in His name.
It was common in that day for Jewish students to select their rabbis or teachers, but in their case, the Teacher selected them! However, the fact that Jesus chose them did not negate their free will to refuse to follow Him and it did not make apostasy impossible (e.g., Judas).