Thoughts on Today’s Verse
If we trust in the person and work of Jesus, we are saved by faith in Him, and saved unto eternal life as a free gift of God’s grace. We are forgiven of our sin and clothed in His own perfect righteousness. But disciples are believers who move to the next level of faith, living life by faith, through a process of progressive sanctification. This can often be uncomfortable, because we are not OF the world but are living IN this fallen world system, which is under the jurisdiction of Satan and at enmity with God and His people.
Disciples are those that are not only SAVED by grace through faith but also LIVE by grace through faith. Disciples are those that are enabled, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to produce spiritual fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This fruit is only produced through a life of obedience, a life that abides in Christ, a life where Christ is permitted to abide in us. True discipleship is a recognition that without Him I can do nothing, but that I can do all things, not of myself, but through Jesus Christ who gives me the strength. But because we are in the world and not part of this fallen world system we will be hated for no reason, just as they hated Jesus without any cause.
Knowing that the Jews had rejected Christ’s offer of the kingdom, which He had presented to them for 3 long years, the Lord knew that His work through His chosen people, Israel, had to be set aside for a season. A new dispensation – the dispensation of the grace of God (the Church age) would soon be instigated, at Pentecost. And so in this passage, Jesus is giving His twelve disciples a crash course in their future ministry. No longer would they be under the Law, but under grace, for Christ’s forthcoming death and Resurrection would set aside the Jewish, sacrificial system given to Israel through Moses, because Jesus, the Lamb of God, had come to be the full and final sacrificial offering for the sin of the whole world.
No longer would the disciples teach the gospel of the kingdom. No longer would they proclaim that Jesus, the Son of the living God, was in their midst, and had come to fulfil all prophecy about the promised kingdom. Soon Jesus would return to the Father to carry out His present, heavenly role as High Priest, interceding for His Church. Soon the disciples would learn to teach the gospel of the grace of God, during the soon-to-be-instigated Church age.
Jesus explained that the antagonism and hatred that Israel had against Himself had been prophesied of old. This verse is a quote from Psalm 69 which was written by David, where he cried out to the Lord in distress because of his enemies who hated him without a cause: “Save me, O God, For the waters have threatened my life.” David writes, ” I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me. Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head.”
And Jesus explained that Israel’s rebellion against the Father and their hatred of His only begotten Son was a fulfilment of this prophecy: “But they have done this to fulfil the word that is written in their Law,” He told them, “They hated Me without a cause.”
The perfect, sinless life of Christ during His earthly walk was in direct contrast with those that rejected and hated Him. His purity exposed their evil. His grace laid bare the hardness of their heart and their rebellion against the Lord their God. His virtue unmasked their hypocrisy and inner corruption, and in their shame, they did not repent and turn from their wicked ways. Rather, they turned on the One Who came to save them from their sin. They crucified the Lord of Glory. But this was not a surprise to the Lord Who knows the end from the beginning, and Israel’s rejection of Christ 2000 years ago has given us the opportunity of becoming sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus.
When Israel rebelled against God the Father, rejected their Messiah, refused His offer of the kingdom, and crucified their Saviour, Christ’s disciples had a few short weeks to be prepared to exit the Jewish sacrificial system and enter a new era – the Church age. During the last weeks of Christ’s life, He had to give His disciples a crash course in their fast-approaching ministry where the gospel of grace would supersede the gospel of the kingdom. After this disturbing verse, where Jesus shows how hating Him without a cause was simply the fulfilment of the Word written in the Law, Jesus then tells them that after His Ascension, the Helper would come: “And He will testify about Me,” Jesus told them, “and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
The world will always hate and persecute the people of God, both Jewish and Gentile believers, but we have been given the ministry of reconciliation which was started by the apostles. May we be ready and willing to preach the Word boldly, speak the truth in love, and be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ. We are to love those that hate us and pray for those that persecute us for His name’s sake and the glory of the Father.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace and mercy, and for sending Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to save me from my sin and give me eternal life. Thank You that by grace through faith, I can abide in Christ and His Spirit can abide in me, producing spiritual fruit and enabling me to live a life of obedience. Help me to speak the truth in love, to proclaim Your Word boldly, and to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within me. Help me to love those who hate me and to pray for those who persecute me for His name’s sake and for the glory of God the Father. Thank You that I have been given the ministry of reconciliation and for giving me the privilege of being Your disciple. May I live and work to Your praise and glory. This I pray Jesus’ name, AMEN.