“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (v. 22).- John 15:22–25
Believers in Christ will face hatred from the world, as Jesus made clear in His final period of extended teaching before the crucifixion (John 15:18–21). Of course, our Savior did not mean we will be hated by every individual in the world. After all, some unbelievers will come to faith in Christ through our witness (Matt. 28:18–20). Also, He did not mean that the world’s inevitable hatred of us gives us an excuse to be obnoxious. As far as it depends on us, we are to live peaceably with all people (Rom. 12:18). We are to go out of our way to be kind to others, to be good neighbors and responsible citizens of our nations. When we are hated by the world, it must be because we are faithful to Christ and the proclamation of His gospel and not because we are belligerent, annoying, or otherwise not enjoyable to be around.
In today’s passage, Jesus expands upon the world’s hatred of His disciples, explaining that the world can offer no justification for its disdain of Christians. John 15:22 indicates that because Jesus has come into the world and has done mighty signs that testify to who He is as the incarnate Son of God, the world has no excuse for rejecting Him or His followers. The word “excuse” in this verse is probably better translated as “pretense.” In other words, Jesus says that His coming and His ministry make it absurd to claim that opposition to Him and His people is based on ignorance. Biblically speaking, ignorance cannot justify rebellion against God, for all people know that they owe Him love and worship (Rom. 1:18–32). Still, some might try to excuse themselves on the last day with a claim of ignorance because of misunderstanding God’s revelation in nature. Because Jesus has come into the world and proven who He is, however, those who hate Him will be without excuse—even the excuse of ignorance. The Father and the Son have made it abundantly clear who Jesus is and what our obligations to Him are.
Had Jesus never come, people would be guilty of rebelling against God, but they would not be guilty of rejecting God’s Son. Now that the Son of God has come, none who have learned of Him and have gone on to reject Him can be found innocent of denying the Christ. Such people are unreasonable in their rejection of Him because, knowing who He is because they have seen or heard of His ministry, they still refuse to follow Him as His disciples (John 15:23–25).
Jesus tells us in today’s passage that whoever hates Him also hates the Father (John 15:23). It is impossible to love God without also loving Jesus, so it is impossible to be reconciled to God except through faith in Christ alone. As we meet people who claim to love God without serving Christ, we must be clear that they cannot love God unless they are servants of Jesus the Savior.
Passages for Further Study