John15:25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ [ESV]
The reference to “is written in their Law” without a footnoted citation left me searching commentaries to unravel the obscurity of that phrase. Here are some notes I made searching for clarity that became my food for thought.
• Jesus as command-giver vs mankind as command-keepers
• fulfilling the law through merit or mercy
• divine destiny
• finally this quote from an obscure commentary by Philip Schaff a “The very law of which the Jews boasted, and into which, from imagined reverence for it, they were continually searching,—in that very law they might see themselves. In such a connection of thought might it not he [Jesus] be called ‘their law’?”
√ The first note I checked off without question was, of course, the divine destiny of Jesus. That is a foundational tenet of our faith as Christians.
√ Then I went on to considering the difficulty of yielding to a command-giver when you’re a command-keeper living in a highly merit-based system. That is a foundational dilemma of human nature.
√ Finally the quote from Schaff reminded me of this foundational truth from Jesus himself in Matthew 5:17
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” [NLT]
√ Proof: ‘They hated [Jesus] without a cause.’
aPhilip Schaff (January 1, 1819 – October 20, 1893) a Swiss-born, German-educated Protestant theologian and a Church historian who spent most of his adult life teaching in America. He also served as president of the committee that translated the American Standard Version of the Bible, though he died before it was published in 1901
John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
The relationship of mankind to Jesus is a mirrored reflection of it’s relationship to God. Jesus life and works were, and still are, a one-of-a-kind mirror for all mankind to see that sin is a reality BUT that intimacy with God can also be a reality. “Accepting and acting in accordance [abiding] with Jesus is the divine solution that allows Jesus’s intimacy with God to become the shared experience for mankind that can overcome sin.
Without that abiding all that’s left is the human solution for the wide chasm between mankind and God. “…They have seen and hated both me and my Father.”
John 15:23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.
The Word doesn’t get any more plain-spoken than Jesus having to speak such a dark truth about himself. It’s stunning. Jesus was the perfect re-creation of God on earth. He was the prism that would bring the light of renewal to our relationship with…well…Himself. Light is the only way to combat hatred.
The word “prism” reminded me of this photo I’d taken. I had several small prisms placed in windows and throughout the day as sunlight would pass through them their rainbows of color would catch my eye around the house. I’d found this empty nest, filled it with pretend eggs and set it on the mantle window sill. I had no idea of how dramatic that ordinary nest could be until the sunlight through the prism lit it.
The primary message of my photo is pretty obvious. When Jesus is the prism that light is filtered through there’s a dramatic change that brings to mind God’s promise of the rainbow as a sign of His covenant. There’s an equally effective message for the dark half of the photo. Jesus came into the world “as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
John 15:22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. NLT
Jesus had “come and spoken to them” to make them aware of their guilt. John records this truth about Jesus’s living Word; it reveals the destructive reaction of human nature to the awareness of sin and guilt. That same reaction has lasted across time and many generations. Is there anybody reading this that can’t understand a defensive response when confronted with their sin? Let me answer that for you…NO! Jesus’s Word only requires changing the generic pronoun “they” to make it personal enough to impact our human nature today too.
Hearing Jesus speak about sin in the same sentence with your name awakens an awareness of guilt that leaves you with a choice: defend your sin or take Jesus at His Word. Jesus has “come and spoken to [me].” He speaks to offer this replacement for excuses…opportunity. Opportunity to let defensiveness be replaced with repentance that replaces guilt with forgiveness and Grace.
John 15:21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
Hate and persecution were shocking words Jesus used just a few verses ago to warn his followers what they might expect “on account of my name.” Those who used Jesus’s name as a confession of their faith needed courage. Jesus warned them they were marked as different, and a risk to the existing state of conformity, by those who “do not know him who sent me.” The acceptance of that risk with eyes wide open was the necessary seal of their identity as a follower of Christ within a world of conformity.
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. ESV
“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.” Remember just a few verses ago when Jesus called you friend? Why does Christ remind us now of the servant/master relationship?
We live in a world of two polar opposite masters; Jesus who is God and the princes of this world who aren’t. All of humanity will have to choose which of those two powerful masters to serve. There’s no inbetween. You can’t be a friend to both. You’ll either have to organize your life without God OR accept and act in accordance [abide] with Jesus’s example.
Take a moment and consider just what that example is. Jesus has already declared himself to understand your past, believe in your future, and accept you just the way you are. He has called you friend. He wouldn’t have forgotten that when He said “A servant is not greater than his master.’ Remember “Jesus took upon him the form of a servant” [Philippians 2:7]. John 15:20 is not a reminder to us of His position as Master but of His complete identity with His own servanthood and His desire to prepare us for the reality of accepting that identity as our own.
John 15:19 ESV If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
The capacity of human nature to zero in on being loved is what makes “fitting in” to the world such a tempting option. Jesus warns us “fitting in” to the world is not a reliable indicator of love. We’ve just celebrated the birth of Jesus as the promised revelation of God’s love for us. Jesus is the pivot point for our world. Pivot points are basically a choice, an intersection [a cross?], that determines direction.
That promise is the mystery Jesus reminds us of with these words; “I chose you out of the world.” The fact is this world is God’s own choice for us. The mystery is solved by this: While we are chosen “out of the world” we still have to live our life IN it. Learning to live IN the world as visible evidence of that Pivot Point is what completely changes our understanding of God’s love and our interaction with the world too.