Devotion for Tuesday Evening before Easter 22 March 2016 Anno Domini
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:17-27)
The Kingdom of Heaven is a national sovereignty. Its citizenry are the saints of God, and its Monarch is the Lord Jesus Christ. Its national borders are defined by the Hedges set about it by the Word of God. Nations mobilize and prepare for war when the Battle Tocsin sounds across its frontiers. All citizens of the belligerent nation are all alike considered the enemy of those whose borders have been violated or whose national honor has been offended. There can be no collusion across the national boundaries between citizens of either power. The Tocsin sounded in the Garden at Eden when the serpent ‘beguiled’ Eve and brought Adam’s ruin upon all his progeny. Now the lines are drawn in Blood on the sands and stones of Calvary’s Mount and the people of God have no communion with those of the Dark Kingdom of Satan. There are those within the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven who have colluded with the enemy of our Lord while swearing allegiance to Him. This is the Fifth Column among us that appears friend, but is our secret foe. They dress as Christians, are known by Christian names, have churches that are called Christian, but they are imposters and lovers of our enemy – the World. Their hearts are as cold as the blood of the serpent to whom they bear allegiance. The true heart of the Christian is warm with the love of Christ and it is His hot Blood of compassion that flows through their veins. The difference in these two peoples is stark and well-defined in today’s text – and that difference is either love, or the absence of love, for Christ. The terms of the ancient conflict are best described by our Lord: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. (Matt 10:34-36)
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. The Lord gives this same commandment a number of times throughout the Gospels. When scriptural counsel is given repetitively, this ads emphasis to that counsel.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. Why does the world hate the Christian? What is the source of the world’s hate for the Christian? The source of their hate is our King Jesus. They hate Him with a perfect hatred. His love and righteousness stand in sharp contrast to those pale values of the world. His very Name brings shame to their tortured conscience, so they hope to vanquish every vestige of that Name from the earth and from their awareness. But Christians whose lives are built upon that solid Rock of Christ (that followed the Children of Israel through the wilderness) represent that very Name that the World hates. Therefore, the world hates us because we bear that Name and Ensign.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. If we would remove from our uniforms the crosses of sacrifice and the Colors of Christ, the world would readily receive us into their own ranks. All we need do is renounce the Sovereign whose Blood bought us, and who bears the Ensign in the battle lines. The world lies in ruins and ashes because it has rejected God. In her book, “Pillar of Iron” Taylor Caldwell quotes Marcus Tullius Cicero on the title page: “Power and law are not synonymous. In truth they are frequently in opposition and irreconcilable. There is God’s Law from which all Equitable laws of man emerge and by which men must live if they are not to die in oppression, chaos and despair. Divorced from God’s eternal and immutable Law, established before the founding of the suns, man’s power is evil no matter the noble words with which it is employed or the motives urged when enforcing it. Men of good will, mindful therefore of the Law laid down by God, will oppose governments whose rule is by men, and if they wish to survive as a nation they will destroy the government which attempts to adjudicate by the whim of venal judges.“
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. If there were no possibility that we might forget the Word that Christ delivered unto us, He would not have found it necessary to caution against forgetfulness of that Word. Those who honor our Sovereign Lord will also honor us, His subjects; and those who hate and war to destroy every vestige of His Kingdom will likewise hate and war to destroy the subject of Christ. Our Armor and Breastplates identify us with Him and His Army. We will be treated with the same disdain or honor as our leader is treated.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. Christ is that Stone which the builders rejected. We are chips of that Rock, but even a chip is still rock. The stone has the same nature as the Rock from which is hewn. As stones, we may be subject to turbulence and may move out of our places, but that solid rock of Christ is immovable. We must remain immovable in all things righteous. If men have hated the nature of the Rock, they will likewise hate the stone.
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. What is sin but the transgression of the law? Had Christ not spoken, their ignorance would have been perfect and a cloke for sin. But Christ has spoken and revealed Himself and the Father in stark form. Sinners are now without excuse. No longer can they claim ignorance to the law as a defense. But that law to which Christ refers is not that written on tables of stone, but on the soft sinews of the heart – and written in love. The heart that has no love cannot be obedient to the law of love.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. It is the very nature of Christ that men hate. His nature is One with the Father; therefore, when men hate Christ, it is tantamount to hating the Father for they are One in Nature, Purpose, and will.
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. One of the most baffling problems for me to understand is why some men so hated Christ in the face of such compassionate and good works which He did. They heard the beauty of His Words which were divine. They saw His remarkable compassion for lost sinners. They saw the miracles of love that He performed everywhere. And the wicked rulers and priests could not abide His goodness and righteousness. How could they be so blind! Actually, they were NOT blind. They saw and chose not to have seen. All that Christ did, all that He said, He did and said on behalf of His Father in Heaven. It would be impossible to love Christ and not love the Father, and it would likewise be impossible to hate Christ and not hate the Father.
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. This is the clincher and it explains my bafflement: “They hated Christ without a cause!” But the question is still appalling. Perhaps there is a cause that lies deep in the dark heart of men – the cause of their demons and devils. When men are given to gross drunkenness, they hate those who remain sober in their midst. When men lie and deceive, they hate one who stands among them and proclaims truth. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head …. (Psalms 69:4 )
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. Please observe again the reinforcing principle of the Holy Ghost. His very purpose is not to testify of Himself, but of Christ! He is a Comforter to us because Christ is taken from our midst. The Holy Ghost has great versatility to be at all places and at all times. He stands in perfect conformity to the will and purpose of God the Father, and God the Son. He is that Spirit of which Christ spoke to the woman at Jacob’s Well. He is all truth and all Spirit. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24) Today, we observe many churches with an abundance of spirit, but a deficit of truth. On the other hand, we see other churches that are severe in truth but poor in spirit. In order to please God, our worship must be guided by that Holy Spirit of God and in accordance with His Holy Word.
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. This statement had its literal fulfillment in the testimony of the Apostles after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. These had been with Christ from the beginning. None could have said a word against His righteous nature and character, but they had plenty to witness about His compassion, His Holiness, His Love for sinners, and His power and authority that could only have come from God. His apostles still speak under the power of the Truth and Holy Spirit. We must strive to be a people whose hearts are dedicated to a right worship of God – not with a severe and dispassionate application of the Word only, but with a compassionate and loving rendering of the True Word in the True Spirit! Have we done this? If we find a discrepancy of either truth or spirit in our Anglican Orthodox Church, we must be bold to address the deficiency and seek forgiveness. The same is true to all readers of this devotion whose membership is in another Church or denomination. Have you?