John 15:25 - The Hatred of the World is the Fulfillment of Scripture
But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: They hated me without a cause John 15:25.
Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes...who hate me without cause Ps. 35:19.
More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause Ps. 69:5a.
It is the night of the Passover. Judas, the betrayer, has departed. The Lord Jesus speaks confidentially to the eleven who remain. He confides in them that he will soon go to the Father. Yet, he will not leave his disciples on their own, for he will ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit as Comforter, to remain with them (John 14-16).
The disciples will need that support for the world will hate them, as it at this moment, hates Jesus. With this term, the world, Jesus does not mean the world of the heathen people, but the world of the unbelieving Jews. The Jews who rejected Jesus as Messiah, have, with this act, made themselves “the world”, which lives in rebellion against God.
Jesus declares, in our text, that the hatred of the Jews occurs in fulfillment of prophecy. Does that mean that this hatred is the enacting of a play, a tragedy? Were the Jews, contrary to their own wills, doomed to hate Jesus and his disciples, because God had preordained that and confirmed it in Scripture? No, absolutely not. This hatred from the Jews is not the enacting of a tragic play, but it is guilt.
Jesus clearly points out that guilt. He says in John 15:22: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.” He adds to this in verse 24, “If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.”
Following this, Jesus continues in our text: “But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled; ‘They hated me without a cause.’” The word “but” does not indicate a transition from guilt to dramatic tragedy. The apposition is of another nature. That the world hates Jesus is guilt. The world could know better. The Jews heard Jesus’ words and saw his deeds. They have no excuse for their unbelief. Their own law will witness against them. “Law” is used here as a collective noun for the totality of instruction that was entrusted to them in the writings of the Old Testament. All of this instruction witnesses of Christ and unmasks the hatred of the Jews against Jesus as guilt. But — and now we see the contradiction — this guilty hatred of the Jews does not constitute a failure in God’s plans. Even when the Jews drive their worldly hatred to the extreme of condemning the guiltless Messiah of God to death, yet control does not leave the hands of God. Exactly through this senseless rebellion against the Anointed, God fulfills his holy plan of salvation.
The words, “They hated me without a cause” remind us of two of David’s psalms. Psalm 35 is a plea for justice. In these psalms, David prays for rescue from his adversaries. He asks the LORD: “Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause” (Ps. 35:19). Psalm 69 is also a call for justice. In this psalm, David prays for just vengeance over his adversaries. He laments: “More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies” (Ps. 69:4)
Jesus declares these words of David as prophetic utterances, which refer to himself. God laid a pattern of suffering and persecution in the life of his servant David, a pattern which foreshadows the life of the coming Christ. The suffering that David encountered made sense only in its foreshadowing of the suffering that would come to David’s great Son. When David laments that he is hated without cause, he is saying that he is guiltless. How can God allow enemies to openly threaten his righteous servant? This question, which remains unanswered in David’s time, is answered by Christ. Precisely because the death of Jesus has no cause or grounds in any sin in himself, this death, according to God’s righteous judgment, becomes the reason and grounds for the salvation of sinners.
Presently, when Jesus’ disciples begin to witness to the world about the truth of their Master, they will, even as the Master, be hated by the world. Also that hatred is a fulfillment of God’s plan. The church, which proclaims the gospel of Christ to the world, must not be terrified at unbelief and persecution. God removes all excuses from the world and he preserves the righteous who trust in him. They may know that Jesus Christ will repay the unjustified hatred of his enemies at the last judgment. The world will pass away, but the righteousness and justice of God is eternal!