Morning Devotions: John 15 – A Hated Testimony
I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today is Good Friday. It is Day 15 of lockdown. We find ourselves in John chapter 15. I'm going to use this text as a as a launch pad to really gaze at the cross of Jesus Christ. So, what I'm going to do is read God's Word, draw some observations from the chapter, apply the chapter to our lives and then I'm going to close with a word of prayer.
Let's start by reading John chapter 15 beginning at verse 1.
John 15 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 17 “This is what I command you: Love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke 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 also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they don’t know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I had not done the works among them that no one else has done, they would not be guilty of sin. Now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this happened so that the statement written in their law might be fulfilled: They hated me for no reason. 26 “When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father —the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 You also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
John chapter 15 starts with a repeated word over and over again: remain, remain, and remain. This idea of abiding is picked up in John chapter 15:4, “Remain in me, and I in you.” The ideas to be in Christ. It's to know Christ, not just to know of him, but to actually know Jesus Christ in an Intimate close relationship in an ongoing sustainable relationship with him. The text moves on from the discussion of remaining to a discussion around loving. Jesus says in John 15:17, “This is what I command you: Love one another. This love looks like something. It's characterized by obedience to Jesus Christ. It's characterized by joy that wells up within us. It's characterized by community, how we love one another so that a watching world sees this love between us. It's characterized by fruit. True love; love comes from the Father that is inside of us, produces much fruit.
The text goes from remaining to loving to and then to enduring. And it's at this point of enduring that we start to get in focus, the Cross of Christ as it will come.
Jesus has a very sombre discussion with his disciples. Good Friday, it's good for us to think through what Jesus Christ did, what he went through, and what the ramifications are in our lives.
1. The World Hates Jesus
Firstly, the world hates Jesus. Let that sink in for a moment. In John 15:18, we read, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you.” The world hates Jesus! Why would the world hate Jesus? The world hates Jesus because of who he is, the Saviour of the world. The world is quite happy to live in the Cesspool that it is in, the dark recesses of depravity in which it resides. The world doesn't want a light to pierce through its darkness and uncover its deeds of wickedness. Jesus Christ is the light of the world that has come to men. And so the world hates them with a passion. And if the world hates Jesus, he goes on to say that they hate you too.
John 15:19 reads, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. Allow that to dwell in your mind for but a moment. Does the world hate you? Do you profess Christ in a way which sets you apart from the depravity around you?
The world hates Jesus and Jesus says, because they hate me, they will hate you too. The world hates the master. Verse 20, Jesus says, “Remember the words I spoke 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 also keep yours.” This idea of Jesus being the master, King of kings and Lord of lords, coming into this world and demanding obedience commanding obedience from men. Men hate that about Jesus! They are happy with the babe in Bethlehem that we can share Christmas presents around. They are quite happy with a Saviour on a cross, as long as he doesn't come down from the cross and then demand they repent of their sins and put their faith in their trust in him, and live a life acknowledging him as both Saviour and Lord.
2. The World Hates Authority
Secondly, the world hates authority. In verse 21 we read, “But they do all these things to you on account of my name, because they don't know the one who sent me.” The name of a person is that is the symbol of the authority. We are to pray in the name of Jesus because we are to pray in the authority of Jesus Christ. The world hates authority. We see it all around us as our world descends further and further into chaos. The world hates the authority of Christ. The world hates to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Master. The world hates you because it ultimately hates Jesus Christ himself. The world hates the Father. John 15:23 reads, “The one who hates me also hates my Father.” Jesus is saying if you hate me, you hate him who sent me. If you hate my words, you hate his words. The bottom line is in rejecting Jesus Christ, the world is rejecting God the Father. But not only that, they are rejecting God the Son. In John 15:24, we read, “If I had not done the works among them that no one else has done, they would not be guilty of sin. Now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. To reject the Father is to reject the Son. To reject the Son is to reject the Father. It’s a package deal. Our God is one God in three Persons
3. The World Hates Jesus for no Reason
Lastly, they reject Jesus Christ for no reason at all. In verse 25 we read, “But this happened so that the statement written in their law might be fulfilled: They hated me for no reason.” The reality is the world is driven to madness. God who created the heavens and the earth, pierced through time and space and matter and he has come into this world in order to redeem this world, to save us. In instead of turning to him and worshipping him as God, the world hates him, rejects him, crucifies him, and cries out for his blood.
The response to all of this persecution is that Jesus promises something and he promises that we will do something. He says in verse 26, “When the Counsellor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father - the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father he will testify about me. You also will testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning.” Can you see that the Holy Spirit, the promised one, testifiers to Jesus Christ. But not only does the Holy Spirit testify to Jesus Christ. The disciples were to testify to Jesus Christ. It's that testimony, the written testimony in God's Word, the apostles’ teaching that the early church was devoted to. And the early church began to testify about Jesus to a watching world, that Jesus had died for sin. That Jesus Christ had risen from the grave. And that all men everywhere were to repent for the forgiveness of their sins.
How do we go about applying John chapter 15?
How does this apply to an unbeliever? Friend, you need to see that you are the world that hates Jesus Christ. You might say to yourself, ‘I don't hate Jesus. I think he's okay.’ The reality is that your unbelief is shaking a fist of rebellion against the Creator of the heavens and earth. That's what Good Friday is about. The reality is, we who are sinners are unable to make ourselves right before a holy God. And so, Jesus Christ came into this world, and died that we might live. He rose in victory over the grave on Easter Sunday - Resurrection Sunday, because God had accepted the payment that the Son had made for your sin and for mine. The call on your life is to repent, to turn away from your sin, to hear the testimony of the witness of John 15, as it speaks into your heart and tells you of the sin within, and calls upon you to acknowledge Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Saviour. Repent, turn from your sin and cast yourself upon the cross of Calvary, upon Jesus Christ himself, his finished work on the cross because it is enough and it is finished. The price has been made that you might live.
If you’re backslider listening to/reading John chapter 15, I want you to be reminded of the narrative the story of Judas. Jesus is talking about this remaining in him, abiding with him, being in Christ, being in close personal relationship and bearing fruit. He's saying that to his disciples knowing full well that Judas Iscariot is about to betray him. We read in chapter 15:2, “Every branch in me that does not produce fruit, he removes.” And then again in verse 6, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” Friend, examine your life. Take a look at John chapter 15. It talks about fruit in verse 1. It talks about more fruit in verse 2. It talks about much fruit in verse 5. And then by the time you get to verse 16, it says that we must remain in fruit. The fruit should remain in us.
What is the fruit of your profession of faith? As you look at your life, do you see habitual sin which bares evidence to the fact that you are not saved? Or do you see sin that you need to quickly repent of because Jesus Christ is your Lord and your Saviour and you know that the discipline of God awaits you if you don't? Friend, repent once again! Put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and love in the path of righteousness.
Our Father, thank you for the gift of Salvation. May all those who read this be changed and challenged by John 15. May You, through the power of your Spirit reveal Christ to the world, and may believers be encouraged to be the mouthpieces of the testimony of Christ to the world. All of this we ask in Jesus Christ’s name.