For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
~ Isaiah 53:2-3
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
~ Isaiah 50:6
And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.
~ Ezekiel 2:5
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
~ 1 John 2:23
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
~ Acts 2:22
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
~ Exodus 20:5
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
~ Proverbs 8:36
Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
~ Psalm 35:19
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
~ Luke 24:49
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
~ Acts 2:32-33
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
~ 1 John 1:1-2
And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
~ John 15:27
An Exposition on John 15:22-27, by J.C. Ryle.
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 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. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. 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: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
In these verses our Lord Jesus Christ handles three subjects of great importance. They are difficult subjects, no doubt, subjects on which we may easily fall into error. But the words before us throw much light upon them.
We should observe, for one thing, how our Lord speaks of the misuse of religious privileges. It intensifies man’s guilt, and will increase his condemnation. He tells His disciples that if He had not “spoken” and “done” among the Jews things which none ever spoke or did before, “they would not be guilty of sin.” By this, we must remember, He means, “they had not been so sinful and so guilty as they are now. But now they were utterly without excuse.” They had seen Christ’s works, and heard Christ’s teaching, and yet remained unbelieving. What more could be done for them? Nothing. absolutely nothing! They wilfully sinned against the clearest possible light, and were of all men most guilty.
Let us settle it down as a first principle in our religion, that religious privileges are in a certain sense very dangerous things. If they do not help us toward heaven, they will only sink us deeper into hell. They add to our responsibility. “To whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.” (Luke 12:48.) He that dwells in a land of open Bibles and preached Gospel, and yet dreams that he will stand in the judgment day on the same level with an untaught Chinese, is fearfully deceived. He will find to his own cost, except he repents, that his judgment will be according to his light. The mere fact that he had knowledge and did not improve it, will of itself prove one of his greatest sins. “He that knew His Master’s will and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12:47.)
Well would it be for all professing Christians in England, if this point was more thoroughly considered! Nothing is more common than to hear men taking comfort in the thought that they “know what” is right, while at the same time they are evidently unconverted, and unfit to die. They rest in that unhappy phrase, “We know it, we know it,” as if knowledge could wash away all their sins–forgetting that the devil has more knowledge than any of us, and yet is no better for it. Let the burning words of our Lord in the passage now before us, sink down into our hearts, and never be forgotten–“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they would not be guilty of sin–but now they have no cloak for their sin.” To see light and not use it, to possess knowledge and yet not turn it to account, to he able to say “I know,” and yet not to say “I believe,” will place us at the lowest place on Christ’s left hand, in the great day of judgment.
We should observe, for another thing, in these verses, how our Lord speaks of the Holy Spirit. He speaks of Him as a Person. He is “the Comforter” who is to come; He is One sent and “proceeding;” He is One whose office it is to “testify.” These are not words that can be used of a mere influence or inward feeling. So to interpret them is to contradict common sense, and to strain the meaning of plain language. Reason and fairness require us to understand that it is a personal Being who is here mentioned, even He whom we are justly taught to adore as the third Person in the blessed Trinity.
Again, our Lord speaks of the Holy Spirit as One whom He “will send from the Father,” and One “who proceeds from the Father.” These are deep sayings, no doubt, so deep that we have no line to fathom them. The mere fact that for centuries the Eastern and Western Churches of Christendom have been divided about their meaning, should teach us to handle them with modesty and reverence. One thing, at all events, is very clear and plain. There is a close and intimate connection between the Spirit, the Father, and the Son. Why the Holy Spirit should be said to be sent by the Son, and to proceed from the Father, in this verse, we cannot tell. But we may quietly repose our minds in the thought expressed in an ancient creed, that “In this Trinity none is afore or after other–none is greater or less than another.” “Such as the Father is such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.” Above all, we may rest in the comfortable truth that in the salvation of our souls all three Persons in the Trinity equally co-operate. It was God in Trinity who said, “Let us create,” and it is God in Trinity who says, “Let us save.”
Forever let us take heed to our doctrine about the Holy Spirit. Let us make sure that we hold sound and Scriptural views of His nature, His Person, and His operations. A religion which entirely leaves Him out, and gives Him no place, is far from uncommon. Let us beware that such a religion is not ours. “Where is the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ?” should be the first testing question about our Christianity. “Where is the Holy Spirit?” should be the second question. Let us take good heed that the work of the Spirit is not so buried under extravagant views of the Church, the ministry, and the Sacraments, that the real Holy Spirit of Scripture is completely put out of sight. “If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” (Rom. 8:9.) No religion deserves to be called Scriptural and apostolic, in which the work of the Spirit does not stand forth prominently, and occupy a principal place.
We should observe lastly, in these verses, how our Lord speaks of the special office of the Apostles. They were to be His witnesses in the world. “You also shall bear witness.”
The expression is singularly instructive and full of meaning. It taught the eleven what they must expect their portion to be, so long as they lived. They would have to bear testimony to facts which many would not believe, and to truths which the natural heart would dislike. They would often have to stand alone, a few against many, a little flock against a great multitude. None of these things must move them. They must count it no strange thing to be persecuted, hated, opposed, and discredited. They must not mind it. To witness of Christ was their grand duty, whether men believed them or not. So witnessing, their record would be on high, in God’s book of remembrance; and so witnessing, sooner or later, the Judge of all would give them a crown of glory that fades not away.
Let us never forget, as we leave this passage, that the position of the Apostles is that which, in a certain sense, every true Christian must fill, as long as the world stands. We must all be witnesses for Christ. We must not be ashamed to stand up for Christ’s cause, to speak out for Christ, and to persist in maintaining the truth of Christ’s Gospel. Wherever we live, in town or in country, in public or in private, abroad or at home, we must boldly confess our Master on every opportunity. So doing, we shall walk in the steps of the Apostles, though at a long interval. So doing, we shall please our Master, and may hope at last that we shall receive the Apostles’ reward.