John 13-17 is Jesus’ farewell teaching preparing His disciples for what was to come in the time ahead.
In John 13, He introduced the New-Covenant in His Blood, in which He was the fulfilment of the PASSOVER LAMB. He was about to leave His disciples and fulfil His EXODUS (from earth to heaven). Although His disciples would follow (like Israel and Moses), it would not be immediately.
Therefore in John 14, He gave His personal reassurances to them, telling them of all the ways He would be with them. So John 13 covers our SALVATION and CLEANSING through His Blood, and John 14 describes our BLESSINGS in the New-Covenant, His provisions for our WELFARE in His absence.
At the end of John 14 they left the Upper-Room (v31) to go to Gethsemene.
The teaching of John 15-16 and the intercessory prayer of John 17 was given en-route to the Garden, for only in John 18:1 do they go into the Garden.
In John 15 & 16, He gives His disciples the ingredients of a successful Christian LIFE and MINISTRY, instructing them how to be a BLESSING - how to be FRUITFUL (productive) for Him.
Outline (John 15:1-16:33). In this message, Jesus covers five important areas or RELATIONSHIPS that we need to get right, for us to be effective, successful and fruitful in our Christian lives and ministry.
RELATIONSHIP 1. Our Relationship with Christ:
ABIDING in Him (15:1-11).
RELATIONSHIP 2. Our Relationship with the Brethren:
LOVE and UNITY (15:12-17)
RELATIONSHIP 3. Our Relationship with the World:
COURAGE to WITNESS (15:18-16:4)
RELATIONSHIP 4. Our Relationship with the Holy-Spirit:
CALLING and RELYING upon His HELP (16:5-15).
RELATIONSHIP 5. Our Relationship with ourselves in the New-Creation:
KNOWING who we are in Christ (16:16-33).
Notice the structural markers at the end of each Section, that summarise it and define its overall purpose, thus giving us the key to understanding it:
1. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (15:11). In other words the purpose of this Section is to teach us how to have a joyful fellowship with Christ, for out of the spiritual strength from this our witness and ministry and fruitfulness flows.
2. “These things I command you, that you love one another” (15:17).
This section is phrased in stronger ‘command’ language, emphasising that to be fruitful, we must work in love and unity with other believers. We are all organically joined to each other in the Vine. We are not just ‘in Christ’ (joined to Christ but joined to each other also). Therefore we cannot live as isolated branches.
3. “These things (concerning the world) have I spoken to you that you should not be offended.... But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them” (16;1,4).
In this Section He prepares us for the hard time and opposition we will get from the world, so that we will not be discouraged and defeated by it. Jesus suffered it himself, He knews that we would share His suffering, He predicted it and has made provision for us to stand courageously in it.
4. “Therefore I said that He (the Spirit) shall take of Mine and shall show (manifest, transmit) it unto you” (16:15). We must depend on the Holy-Spirit as our Helper, the only One who administrates, and communicates (transmits) the power, anointing, healing, love and grace of Christ to us.
5. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation(trouble) but be of good cheer, I have OVERCOME the world” (16:33). The purpose of this Section is to produce in us the peace that comes from knowing His victory has been accomplished and given to us. He has overcome all the power of the enemy, and in Him we too are overcomers.
In summary, Jesus is teaching us:
(1) to cultivate a strong FELLOWSHIP with Him, ABIDING in Him through faith, so that His life and joy may flow in and through us, so that we become FRUITFUL,
(2) to walk in LOVE and UNITY with other believers,
(3) to walk in COURAGE towards the world, as we hold forth our WITNESS to Christ,
(4) to depend and call upon the HELP of the Holy-Spirit, our power-connection to Heaven,
(5) to know who we are IN CHRIST: that we have already OVERCOME, that we are more than conquerors (world-overcomers) through the victory He has won and has given to us.
All of these are important, although (1) is fundamental, for without maintaining our close fellowship with the Lord, drawing upon His life, we can’t possibly fulfill the other requirements.