with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
The part of John’s Gospel which we are looking at, is teaching from the lips of the Lord Jesus. He is with His disciples in the place often called The Upper Room.
So far we have seen how He describes the close relationship the disciples have with Himself and His Father. His men do not seem to comprehend this teaching very well, but the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus will send, will make these things plainer to them. Also, He is warning His followers that suffering is just around the corner. For Himself, yes, but also for them.
There is a strong emphasis on love. His love for them, His love for His Father, the Father’s love for the Son and those who belong to the family of God. There is an inner circle which can never be broken. It is important for us to know whether we belong to that circle or not.
Verse 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.
As we have seen, love rules the relationship which the Lord has with His people. It is fitting that those who belong to Jesus should love each other. It is to be the same kind of love as God’s love, but will only be a pale reflection. To this point, the disciples of Christ had not shown much love for each other but had shown resentfulness and rivalry. By God’s grace it was now to be different. This love is not a feeling to be followed; it is a command to be obeyed. They were to be concerned with each other’s welfare.
Verse 18 If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.
This is a warning that in coming days, these men will not be popular but will be disliked by many. By ‘the world’ the Lord refers to the godless social system which rules society. The world in this sense is comprised of lost people who do not believe in Jesus. Instead they rely on themselves and live without reference to God’s law. It has always been there as the secular opponent of godliness. Jesus reminds them that He will feel the anger of the world before they do. He is referring to His betrayal, trial and death.
Verse 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
To be a disciple of Christ means to stand apart from the unbelieving world. Loyalty to Jesus means putting Him first, no matter if all others turn their backs on Him. Anyone standing up for Jesus will soon find that they don’t fit in with the ways and the opinions of the people of the world. When Jesus says that they are ‘chosen out of the world’ He makes it clear that they are now under His rule, living differently from the way they used to live.
Verse 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 keep yours also.
Those who follow Jesus cannot expect different treatment from what He received. He was, as the prophet Isaiah said, ‘despised and rejected of men.’ We know that ahead of Him was the shame and the violence of His suffering death. He knew that his men would be attacked, imprisoned and in some cases slain for His sake and the Gospel’s. Down through the years to the present day, the church has been persecuted and Christians have suffered at the hands of those who do not love God. It is part of the price of being a loyal believer.
Verse 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
There is blindness on the part of those who persecute Christians. They don’t know God and do not have sensitivity toward their own sinfulness. As John said earlier in this book:
‘He came to his own, and His own did not receive Him’ (John 1:11). It is an awful truth that mankind scorned and crucified God. No wonder Jesus prayed on the cross ‘Father, forgive them; they know not what they are doing.’
Verses 22-23 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no-one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.
Hardness and blindness go together. Jesus spoke words of truth and wisdom to the people, inviting them to surrender to the rule of God. He also performed many undeniable miracles which were totally convincing. Yet, men refused to believe and instead pitted themselves against Him. If He had not been revealed, the people would not have felt convicted about sin. But seeing He has come, spoken and performed as the Son of God, there is no escaping the conviction and condemnation of sin. To hate Jesus is to hate His Father and declare oneself an enemy.
Verse 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
Jesus is referring to the antipathy shown to Him by so many. He points out that it was foretold in the Old Testament that this would happen. Psalm 35:19 and Psalm 69:4 both mention this unreasonable hatred. Jesus only did good. He was not guilty of any sin. He was perfect in every way. For people to hate the one who was utterly good, they would need to be utterly bad.
Verse 26 But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
Quite a bit is taught about the coming Holy Spirit in this Upper Room discourse. Jesus is saying that when He himself has departed, the Spirit will come to speak to mankind and convict of sin, righteousness and judgment. He will be at work in the world to persuade human minds about the person of Christ. Indeed, He is still doing that today as the Good News about Jesus is proclaimed. It is the mercy of God alone that allows sinful people the opportunity to change their minds and attitudes toward the Saviour.
Verse 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
After Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, the disciples would go into all the world with the Gospel. They would witness to the saving power of Christ. The Book of Acts tells us what happened in those early days. Their preparation began when Jesus first called them to follow Him. They learned by seeing and doing and then through teaching such as that which Jesus is giving them at this time. They were learning from the best teacher they could ever have.
No doubt Jesus loved these disciples of His and felt keenly the battles which they were about to face in the near future. It is a wonder that such fearful and weak men could be made the force they eventually became. They were history makers. The world was changed because of the establishment of the Christian church, people dedicated to Christ.
All because they were obedient to their Master and willing to pay the price of serving Him.
So it is today. We follow in their footsteps if we have yielded our wills to Christ. We, too, must stand firm though the world around us is moving in the opposite direction. Moving against the current means relying much upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit who strengthens us for the fight. God and God’s people will be the eventual winners. No; they are already the winners.
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