18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
They hate Him without a cause.
I wonder if this passage is not better taken as being a comparison: “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.” Obviously the Bible teaches man is lost in sin; Jesus teaches this so many times, I think it a waste of time establishing it. What does my Lord mean then, when He says “they had not had sin”? I think perhaps it is better taken in the sense of that which the passage has been teaching. Jesus is talking about pruning out some branches here. Is this one of the branches to be pruned? Are the leaders of Israel now more responsible for having rejected their Savior?
I think, so long as they had not seen the Lord, that they could “pretend” to be in the will of God. I do not think Jesus is teaching about original sin here; what He is saying is that now the men are more responsible and thus more sinful because they have rejected Jesus. There are many times after I present the gospel to friends that reject that gospel. I walk away wondering if I have not just made things worse for them. Are they not now subject to a higher judgment? I mean that they have now had the gospel clearly presented to them, something that does not happen freely to most of our world. What are they going to say when they meet the judgment of God? At least before hearing the gospel, they might use the very poor excuse that they were ignorant, though Romans 1:20 makes it clear that even that excuse will not work. What I am trying to say is that when someone I have presented the gospel to, turns it down, I walk away knowing somehow that I probably have made their judgment worse.
So does it stop me from preaching? No, not at all. I know the only salvation is in Jesus, and until they find Him, the wicked will find no rest. One of the wonderful things I look forward to as a Christian is watching Jesus finally rule over the earth. Isaiah and Jeremiah and the prophets paint such a pastoral picture of the coming of His reign, and I do look forward to it. But, being very much a dispensationalist, I know that even with Jesus in the flesh, still men will fail their responsibilities. We are now in the age of grace, of the mystery kingdom, and we are failing to spread the message as it ought to be spread, and also, men are failing to hear the message as they ought to. Then, mankind will even have the KING of KINGS to rule over them, and though there will be a great movement of humans toward God, yet still they will fail. Just as men have failed the test of every dispensation. How do I know they will fail? I have read The Revelation, chapter 20, where when the thousand years of Christ’s reigning are over, Satan will be loosed again, and “deceive the nations”.
If there is any constant in our world it must lie within the fact that we fail to be what we ought to be. But therein is the gospel, Jesus Christ has come to save sinners, of whom I am foremost. We need grace. Someone wiser than I long ago formed an acronym from GRACE: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. I can’t say it better than that!
Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed
1. Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?
2. Was it for crimes that I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut its glories in,
When God, the mighty maker, died
For his own creature's sin.
4. Thus might I hide my blushing face
While his dear cross appears;
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.
5. But drops of tears can ne'er repay
The debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
'Tis all that I can do.
Lyrics: Isaac Watts