“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin” (John 15:22).
What on earth did the Lord mean here when He said that if He hadn’t come, the unbelieving Jews He had mentioned in the previous verse “had not sin”? Surely they had sinned, whether He had come or not!
To find out what He meant, we have to define a word that we don’t use very often, the word “cloke,” spelled cloak in our day and time. A cloak is a loose, sleeveless garment that is worn over other clothing, and about the only time that this writer hears the word even mentioned is when someone puts their coat in the cloakroom of a restaurant. If you can’t picture what a cloak would look like, but you can picture the mythical character Dracula, he is always depicted wearing a cloak.
Now the thing about a cloak is that you can easily conceal something under a loose, sleeveless garment, such as a dagger. This has given rise to the expression cloak and dagger, a figure of speech that refers to espionage. For this reason, when this word is used as a verb, to cloak something means to hide it. Star Trek fans will remember that Klingon and Romulan vessels were equipped with cloaking devices that made it so that you couldn’t see their ships coming. And no, I’m not a geek, I had to look that up!
All of this helps us understand what the Lord meant when He said that if He hadn’t come they would not have had sin. He didn’t say “they had not sin, then I came and now they have sin.” He rather said, “They had not sin, then I came and now they have no cloak for their sin.” In other words He was saying, “Now that I’ve come, they can’t hide their sin any more,” and I believe He had a specific sin in mind, an all-encompassing one that He mentions in the next verse.
“He that hateth Me hateth My Father also” (John 15:23).
The comprehensive sin that these unbelievers were cloaking so successfully before the Lord came was hatred of the Father. Since the Law commanded the Jews to love the Father (Deut. 6:5), it was a sin to hate Him, and for centuries unbelieving Jews had cloaked their hatred for God with their religion, which provided the perfect cover. Practicing Judaism made it appear that unsaved Jews loved the Father, but as the Lord said of them: “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8 cf. Isa. 29:13).
If you are wondering how the Lord’s coming uncloaked their hatred of the Father, remember that He represented God the Father in the flesh, and so when He showed up and they hated Him, it showed they hated the Father.
But notice in our text that it wasn’t just the Lord’s coming that uncloaked their sin. He said, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not sin” (v. 22). How did His words uncloak their hatred? Well, remember, His words were the Father’s words (John 3:34; 8:26; 12:49). So when the Lord spoke the words of the Father and they hated His words, they were actually hating the Father’s words!
If you are not convinced that this is what the Lord had in mind, consider what He went on to say:
“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” (John 15:24).
This sounds a lot like what He said in our text verse, but remember that there He said that His words uncloaked their hatred, while here He affirmed that His works uncloaked it, speaking of the miraculous works that He did among them. If you are wondering how His works uncloaked their hatred of the Father, remember He said that “the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works” (John 14:10). And so when the unbelievers in Israel ascribed His miraculous works to Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24), their hatred of His works were actually hatred for the Father’s works. That’s how the Lord’s words and works uncloaked their hatred of, as He says here, “both Me and My Father.”
All this reminds us of how if you are looking for a certain book on the internet, you will usually see advertising popup ads that say something like, “If you like this book, you might also like…,” and then go on to try to sell you some other books that are similar to the one for which you had been searching and found. Similarly, if you don’t like the Lord Jesus Christ, you don’t like God the Father. You might say that you do, as the adherents of many religions do, but you really don’t! Religions that claim to love God but reject His Son are nothing more than cloaks for hatred of the Father, and you have God’s Word on it!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.