Comments from J.C. Ryle that didn’t make it into my sermon last Sunday.
The theme of John 7:1-13 is the question “Who is Jesus Christ?” Jesus’ biological brothers didn’t yet believe that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, and they offered Him some unsolicited “career advice” that reeked of the world. One of the things Jesus said to them in response, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil” (7:7).
These words reveal one of those secret principles which influence men in their treatment of Christ. They help to explain that deadly enmity with which many during the Lord’s earthly ministry regarded Him and His Gospel. It was not so much the high doctrines which He preached, as the high standard of practice which He proclaimed, which gave offence. It was not even His claim to be received the Messiah which men disliked so much, as His witness against the wickedness of their lives. In short, they could have tolerated His opinions if He would only have spared their sins.
The principle, we may be sure, is one of universal application. It is at work now just as much as it was eighteen hundred years ago. The real cause of many people’s dislike to the Gospel is the holiness of living which it demands. Teach abstract doctrines only, and few will find any fault. Denounce the fashionable sins of the day, and call on men to repent and walk consistently with God, and thousands at once will be offended. The true reason why many profess to be infidels, and abuse Christianity, is the witness that Christianity bears against their own bad lives. Like Ahab, they hate it, ‘because it does not prophesy good concerning them, but evil’ (1 Kings 22:8).”