The image of a vine which Jesus uses here will have been an unfamiliar one for English people up until the last twenty years. For the listeners, the disciples, it would have been such a common picture and it is used elsewhere in Scripture: Psalm 80 v 8-16, Isaiah 5 v 1-7, Ezekiel 15 v 1-8. In the Intertestamental period, the vine was used as the Jewish national symbol. The use of the vine image in the Old Testament emphasises that Israel’s unfaithfulness to God meant that the nation did not bear the fruit that God intended. In the same way in which Jesus had already represented Himself as superseding many of the Old Testament pictures (the temple, the Jewish feasts, Moses, etc.), He now declared that He was the true Vine, replacing fruitless Israel.
So, what is His call to us who are also His disciples? The vine is a particularly apt image at this point when Jesus knows that tomorrow He will die. The only way to enable a vine to thrive and bear good fruit is to cut it so far back it looks as if you've destroyed it. In modern times, this is called guyot pruning. We are thus called to remain in Him, whatever may arise. Remember, for those Twelve it would be imprisonment, torture and for most of them death! It is only us who can remove ourselves from the love of God. If we remain in Him, Jesus assures us that we will always be in the circle of His love, For God is faithful (2 Timothy 2 v 13). How do you and will you live in the light of the knowledge that you are God's friend?!