If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
It is significant and affecting to find that in the last deliberate discourse which our Lord Jesus addressed to his disciples, he not only administered comfort to his friends, but uttered words of sad rebuke to his enemies. He knew full well that the attitude which was taken towards him by the Jewish leaders was typical of the regard and treatment of multitudes besides; and his reproaches have a scope far beyond their immediate application.
I. THE MANIFESTATION OF UNBELIEF. This is to be seen in the open rejection and persecution of the Lord Jesus.
II. THE CAUSE OF UNBELIEF. This is not intellectual difficulty, but moral repugnance. The Jewish enemies of Jesus hated his holy character, his denunciations of their worldliness and hypocrisy, his lofty and spiritual standard of teaching, his claims to supreme authority.
III. THE GUILT OF UNBELIEF. This is especially to be recognized in what unbelief of Christ involves. Hatred of the Father, God, and consequent hatred of his holy Law and his benevolent purposes, - such is the charge which Jesus brings against his foes. In rejecting Christ, they were showing themselves to be out of sympathy with the mind and will of him who is eternal righteousness and goodness. This was their sin and condemnation.
IV. THE INEXCUSABLENESS OF UNBELIEF. As powerfully set forth by Jesus Christ in this passage, this is to be observed in three respects.
1. Christ's words, his incomparable teaching, were a witness to his authority, and should have been received with reverence, gratitude, and faith. It should have been an all-sufficient witness to him who spake as never man spake. The truths he revealed, the laws he imposed, the promises he gave, were all such as would have commanded the respect of those morally prepared to appreciate the utterances of One who came from heaven.
2. Christ's marvelous works were well fitted to second the impression produced by his words. They, indeed, appealed to an inferior faculty of human nature, but they were necessary in order to the completeness and justice of the impression to be made upon the minds of our Lord's contemporaries. His enemies did not deny the reality of our Lord's miracles, but they misinterpreted them, attributing them, by an absurd ingenuity, to an infernal source.
3. The hatred, enmity, and unbelief of the Jews were inexcusable because they were "without a cause." By this we must understand, not that there was no motive in the minds of his foes, but that there was no justification for their conclusions or for their conduct. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
WEB: If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.