1. In 15:18-24 Jesus made a sharp distinction between the unbelievingworld and believers. Six times the word "hate" occurs. The world hates Christ and His believers. Christians must not delude themselves but be ready for and face this hatred of the world. In fact, it was prophesied, vs. 25. In David's day, in Christ's day, in all generations the world's irrational foundationless hatred for Christ is directed at Christians. These thoughts are repeated in 16:1-4. The Christian does not live in a world that is friendly toward, or even tolerant of, Christ and the Truth. Forewarned is forearmed. And that is precisely why Pentecost took place: to comfort God's children and to make them cheerful and courageous in a world which utterly loathes Christ and the Truth.
2. In vs. 26 the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter, the one who stands.beside us and helps us. He is called "the Spirit of Truth" at Jn.14:7, here and at 16:13, also at I Jn. 4:6. At Jn. 14:6 and I Jn.5:6 Jesus and the Holy Spirit are identified with the Truth. Truth is found only in the Triune God. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. That is incomprehensible to us. The Son sent the Spirit from the Father. That is comprehensible to us. He testifies about Jesus. Any talk about the Spirit not associated with Jesus is falsehood. The Holy Spirit and the disciples are fellow-testifiers, the former by virtue of being sent, the latter by virtue of personal experience. Both tell the Truth about Jesus.
3. The whole book of Acts attests to what is said in 16:1-4. "These things" refers to 15:18-25, the hatred of the world for Christ, the Gospel and Christians. Jesus spoke these things so that Christians do not fall away, be caught unawares, or accuse Christ of unfairness. The world will actually excommunicate Christians falsely. In fact, the enemies will think that killing Christians is a godly act. Saul, before his conversion, persecuted Christians. He thought he was serving God. One Rabbi wrote: "Everyone who sheds the blood of the reprobate is equal to the man who performs a sacrifice. At Matt. 10:24 Jesus said: "The disciple is not above his Master." If they killed Christ you can expect similar treatment. If they accused Jesus of having a devil you can expect the same treatment.
4. In vs. 3 the word "these" refers to the atrocities of vs. 2. Ignorance of the Father amounts to ignorance of the Son. Father and Son are both true God. Jesus is not excusing these people but revealingtheir guilt. The worst ignorance is ignorance of the Father and His Son. Natural man is spiritually blind. If any man is in Christ he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. All is new. II Cor.5:17. Think of the Apostle Paul before and after conversion. Jesus said to His enemies at 8:19: "You know neither Me nor My Father. If you would know Me, you would know also My Father." See also 7:28-29. For a similar thought see Matt. 11:27.
5. In vs. 4 "these, their and them" refer to things said at 15:18 to16:3. When these things happened later, Jesus' words of prediction actually increased their faith in Him. And so it is with us. When false christs arise, when we are persecuted for Jesus' sake, we think of what Jesus told us. That makes our faith and confidence in Him grow and increase.
6. The last sentence of vs. 4 reads: "These things I did not tell you from the beginning because I was with you." During Jesus' ministry the hatred of His enemies was directed only at Him. There was no need to tell the disciples then. But when he would leave, the hatred toward Christ would be directed at the disciples. So it will be with us. We are forewarned. Our life in this world is the way of the cross. Our theology is the theology of the cross. As it happened to Him, so the devil, the world and our flesh will persecute us. We are pilgrims and strangers in this world. Heaven is our home.
THEME: Jesus Prepares His Disciples For The Hostility Of The World
While Jesus was on earth His enemies hated only Him, not his disciples. But when He ascended into heaven, the world turned its hatred on the disciples. Read Jn. 15:18-25. The enemies hated Jesus without a cause. Later these enemies hated the disciples without a cause. Acts 3-28 is one long account of the suffering disciples. But Jesus had armed them, armed them and went with them.
I. WHY THE DISCIPLES NEEDED PREPARATION AND TRAINING
A. Because of the attitudes of the world. The word "hatred" occurs six times in Jn. 15:18-25. It's a hatred "without a cause". While Jesus was on earth His enemies constantly hated Him without a cause. It began when He was an infant. Satan worked through people. Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt. While Jesus was growing up He was in favor with God and man. But the moment He told the Jews about their sins, they began hating Him. It finally brought Him to an unjust trial and an unjust death. Likewise with the disciples. Beginning with Acts 3 and to its very end the hatred of the Jews against the apostles is very clear. Why did they hate them? Because they preached about the Lord Jesus. By nature sinful man hates God. He is an ally of the devil who hates Jesus. It is today as it was at Jesus' time. The world still hates Jesus and His disciples.
B. Because of the actions of the world. Jesus says in 16:1 that He had spoken as He did so that they would not be offended, so that they would not fall away from Christ. At Jn. 9:22 we read that if anyone would confess that Jesus was the Messiah the Jews would throw him out of the synagogue. That's what they did with the formerly blind man who confessed Christ. That's what they did with Jesus' disciples. Jesus foretold it in our text (16:1). They went so far as to say that such action was a service to God. Can it happen today? It happened to Lutherans in Germany after the Reformation. They were killed because they confessed Jesus as the Messiah. But vss. 1-4 of our text make very very clear that Jesus foretold it. When it happens our faith in His Word is strengthened.
II. HOW THE DISCIPLES RECEIVED PREPARATION AND TRAINING
A. He arms them with the Truth. Jesus said to Pilate: "Everyone who is of the Truth hears My voice." Pilate answered: "What is Truth?" Jn.18:37-38. Jesus said to the Father: "Your Word is Truth." Jn. 17:17.He called Himself the Truth. Jn. 14:6. The Holy Spirit is called "The Spirit of Truth." Jn. 14:7; 15:26; 16:13. The Triune God and especially the Spirit tells us the Truth about ourselves. Our sinfulness is so great that it cannot be comprehended. It must be believed. But, likewise, the love of God in Christ is so great that cannot be comprehended. It must be believed.
B. The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus. Paul says at Eph. 6:17 thatch sword of the Spirit Is the Word or God. The Holy Spirit, working through the Word of God is like a sword. The sword is used both offensively and defensively. Our enemies are the devil, the world and our flesh. We use the Holy Spirit's sword, the Gospel to fight these enemies. When the devil accuses me of sin I use the Gospel to drive him back. When the world tempts me with its glitter I use the Gospel to drive the world back. And when my flesh tempts me to unspeakable evils I use the Holy Spirit's sword, the Gospel of Jesus Christ to protect myself. And when the occasion arises for me to testify to others I use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, the Gospel.
Jesus warned and armed the disciples. He does the same for us today.