In the weekly Bible study at our apartment building, we recently studied John 15.  Some speculation on a contemporary application of John 15: 22-25 led to some thoughts that I’d like to share for your consideration:

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin.  Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.  He who hates me hates my Father as well.  If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin.  But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.  But this is to fulfil what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason'” (John 15:22-25).

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus warned his disciples that they would be “hated” by others because those others hated Jesus first.  He told them, “If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own.  But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you” (v. 18-19 – Message).  As believers, we live in the world but are not part of the world. Jesus wants us to know that “if they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you” (v. 20 – Message).   

Jesus’ words (v. 22) caused his hearers to be guilty of sin.  My question for our culture is this: How guilty are we of having rejected the words of Jesus?  Has our culture actually rejected the gospel or simply reacted negatively to a distorted version of the gospel?  

Jesus says this regarding those who have heard:  “Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin” (v. 22).  My question for believers, however, is this:  Are we without excuse when others reject the gospel?  How much light (the good news) has our culture really encountered in us?  How much of our behavior is without excuse?

Jesus is very clear: “Whoever hates me hates my Father as well” (v. 23).  This is how I would interpret that statement for our day:  Jesus is the way to the Father (John 14:6).  John declares Jesus as coming from the Father.  “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18).  When we spurn Jesus’ speaking into our lives, we lose the sense of transcendent reality.  We live in a “closed” world with little spiritual connection to the Lord.  

Jesus’ listeners had seen the “works no one else did,” yet they were guilty of sin.  They had witnessed Jesus’ miracles, only to dismiss both Jesus’ words and his Father working in and through them.  My question:  As we try to live out the gospel in our culture, have we discounted the voice of God in our midst? 

Jesus interprets the rejection of his message as a fulfillment of scripture, referring to Ps. 69:4, “They hated me without reason.” Could it be that some of the opposition to Jesus and his kingdom is the result of thinking within the Body of Christ that discounts the Lordship of Jesus – thinking that has become a stumbling block for us and for unbelievers around us?   Revelation 12:12 reminds us that the devil “knows his time is short.” Yes, we see an almost demonic spirit at work in our nation.  But is it not also possible that we have accepted a watered-down version of the gospel to the point of no return?