Notes on John 15:18-21

John 15:18-21
To love one another then is the new and repeated commandment of Christ to His own. To love is the positive and proper and constant exercise of the new nature, as acted on by the Spirit's ministration of Christ, not always brotherly kindness in exercise, but love never failing. But this very affection, strange here below, exposes those in whom it is found to the direct counter-working of Satan, a murderer and liar from the beginning.
“If the world hateth you, know [or, ye know] that me it hath hated before you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, on this account doth the world hate you. Call to mind the word which I told you, A bondsman is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also; but all these things they will do unto you on account of my name, because they know not him that sent me.” (Vers. 18-21.)
To be Christ's is enough to rouse the world's rancor. Circumstances may be needed to call it forth, but there it is. The world hates those who, being His, are no longer of the world. But the Lord would have us know that, not more surely does it hate us, than it had hated Himself before us. (Ver. 18.) Is it not sweet and consoling to us that so it is, however awful in itself, to have such a conviction of the world? For it bates us because of Him, not Him because of us. It is not our faults therefore which are the true cause, but His grace and moral excellence, His divine nature and glory; it is the world's repugnance and enmity to what is of God, and to Him who is God. The world hates the Father shown in the Son; hence it hates the children who were the Father's and then were given to the Son. Christ was hated first, they next, and for His sake.
Not that the world does not love in its own way those who are of it, in most pointed contrast with the grace that goes out to the stranger, and the wretched, and the lost, to such as have wronged and have despitefully treated us. But grace is of all things most offensive to the world, which can love nature in its fallen state. Even righteousness, with its necessary condemnation of the sinner is not so repugnant as the grace which can rise above the sins it condemns in compassion toward the sinner to save him by and in Christ; and this because it treats man as nothing, giving the entire glory to God: indignity intolerable to the flesh, the mind of which is enmity against God. Hence the world's hatred and rejection of Christ, who had revealed God perfectly, and perfectly glorified Him in all His nature and ways. Hence also the world's hatred of us who confess Christ, not only because we are not of the world, but chosen out of it by Christ, which implies its utter worthlessness and condemnation. (Ver. 19.)
The Lord then recalls to their mind His word that no bondsman is greater than his lord. They must rather expect His position, who was despised and rejected of men. They themselves and their teaching would be equally odious for His sake. (Ver. 20.) If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. His person and His word brought God too near their souls which drew back unwilling either to own their sins, or to be debtors to nothing but grace for pardon and deliverance. But this aversion assumes a stronger form where religion is honored and men have a character to lose; and as these things were true in the highest degree among the Jews, they broke out to the last degree in resentment which claimed to persecute, as a duty to God, the Master first and then the disciples. And here the Lord graciously forewarned them that no sorrow might befall them unawares.
But He does more. He gives His own the comfort of knowing in such hours, it might be of bitter woe, as beforehand also, that all the contempt and suffering they might endure from the world was for His sake, because of the world's ignorance of Him that sent Himself, ignorance of the Father. How profoundly true! Impossible that a professing religion could persecute if it really knew Him that sent Christ.
There might be discipline according to His word; and there must be in that which bears the name of the Lord: else the very grace it knows would tend to sink it below the world's level if there were not vigilant, constant, and holy discipline. But discipline is never holy but worldly, when it takes the shape of persecution. What can one think then when that which arrogated the loftiest name invoked the civil arm to enforce the punishment of men's bodies for the pretended good of their souls? What, when it sought and found means to inaugurate ecclesiastical tribunals with torments up to the bitter end in congenial secrecy with an unrelenting cruelty which never had a match even in this dark world? Truly it was the self-same spirit of worldly hatred which first animated the Jews against the Lord and His disciples, and later wrought in the world-church, when it exchanged its pagan for its papal garb, and baptism was more easily adopted than circumcision. “But all these things they will do unto you on account of my name, because they know not him that sent me.” (Ver. 21.) No I forms avail not: God will have reality, and never more plainly and stringently than since Christ and His cross which proved the vanity of religious man and of a worldly sanctuary. Christianity came into being and manifestation when it was demonstrated that man in his best estate was not only worthless before God, but would not have God at any price, even in the person and mission of His own Son come in grace. “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee.” Yet is there no eternal life for man save in the knowledge of the only true God, the Father, and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent. The world is lost, and nowhere more evidently and guiltily than when, in religious pride, it hates Christ and those who are His.