The Lord told His hearers they had to love one another (15:12) enough to die for them (v.13). But since He was speaking to Hebrews (Mt.15:24) and not to us, do we have to love others enough to die for them? Well, that’s what our apostle Paul said (Eph.5:2). Of course, in our country there is little call for us to die for one another. But if you can be a living sacrifice for the Lord (Rom.12:1), why not for the Lord’s people? There are many ways that you can give of yourself to your brethren, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The Lord talked about dying for His friends (15:13), and He made it clear that His friends were those that did what He commanded (v.14). He had to say this because the Jews thought that they were all God’s friends since they were the seed of the only man in the Bible said to be His friend (IIChron.20:7). Actually, we know they weren’t wrong, for if the Lord was wounded “in the house of His friends” (Zech.13:6), then His friends must have included unsaved Jews as well as saved Jews.
If you are wondering in what sense all Jews were God’s friends, remember God told Adam to replenish the earth (Gen.1:28), but man rebelled in Genesis 11:1-9. That’s when the Gentiles became God’s enemies and He singled out Abraham to be His friend in Chapter 12. Even Judas was a friend (Ps.41:9; John 13:18) that the Lord recognized as His “friend” (Mt.26:47-50). He knew he was a traitor, but He also knew that as a Jew he was His friend.
But to be saved you had to be a Jew “inwardly” (Rom.2: 28), and the same was true for being a friend of God. If you wanted to be a friend to God spiritually you had to do what Abraham did. Abraham was called God’s friend after offer-ing his son (James 2:21-23), showing that if a Jew wanted to be God’s friend he had to do what God commanded. And isn’t that what the Lord is saying here in Verse 14?
And the thing He told them to do was love one another enough to die for them by feeding them when they can’t buy food without the mark of the beast (IJo.3:16-18). That’s why the word “friend” appears so much in Luke 11:5-8. Antichrist will have spies everywhere so they will have to beware their “friends” (Micah 7:5,6). The Lord quoted this (Mt.10:21,35,36) as if to say, “I was wounded in the house of my friends, and you may be too!”
The disciples used to be servants (15:15 cf. Isa.41:8; John 12:26) because He hadn’t finished training them and so they didn’t know what their Lord was doing yet. Abraham did (Gen. 18:17,18) and so was God’s friend. That was important because someday his seed would possess the nations (Gen. 26:4) and rule them in the kingdom. God insists that the nation He uses to rule the world know what their master is doing, so He taught them what He was doing throughout the Old Testament.
As the Lord spoke these words it was time for his seed to rule the nations, and armed with His training and their Old Testament Scriptures their training was complete and so were now His friends.
In the context, the Lord was speaking about dying for His friends, and this fits the prophecies that predicted He’d die for the Jews (Isa.53:8; Mt.1:21; Mt.20:28). Not until Paul do we read that He died for His enemies (ITim.2:6; Rom.5:10).
The Lord chose them to bring forth fruit (15:16). Even Judas was chosen to bring forth fruit (John 6:70,71)—and he did. He worked miracles, and when he preached the gospel, men were saved. But the apostles had to choose to be saved. Judas didn’t, but Jeremiah did (Jer.1:4,5).
What did the Lord mean when He spoke about having their fruit “remain”? The Greek word for “remain” (15:16) is translated “abide” (15:7). If the people they led to the Lord would abide in Christ, the kingdom would come, and they’d get whatever they asked for in prayer (15:16). That’s one of the many things that will make the kingdom heaven on earth, along with no sickness (Luke 10:9) and no demons (Mt.12:28).