Read John 15:18-25
Jesus reminds the disciples that they are not the first ones to be persecuted, and they won’t be the last. We are the chosen ones, no longer bound to rules of this world, we have the opportunity to invite others into God’s kingdom, His family. But this comes with a cost.
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:18-19
The first time I read, “it hated me first,” I thought about the Pharisees that were intent on getting rid of Jesus. While there’s no doubt this is an important part of the discussion, my mind wandered back to Genesis. Jesus was there at the beginning of the world. It’s hard to wrap my mind around, but God created man in “our image” and “without him, nothing was made that has been made” (see Genesis 1:26, John 1:3). The world has been hating Jesus for a long time. This pent-up anger led to the crucifixion as an effort to provide the ultimate remedy, that is, to remove Jesus from the Trinity. But God had different plans. Thankfully.
For those who are misled to believe that Satan is infinitely wise, consider the fact that the result of the crucifixion had the opposite effect on humanity. Instead of ending the movement, it catalyzed the disciples when Jesus rose from the dead, just like He said. Just like the prophets foretold. Satan couldn’t figure it out then and he doesn’t control us now. Many have bought into the lie, “that’s just the way I am,” at the bidding of evil forces in the world, but they are wrong. They are not evil because of this defeatist attitude, they are merely misinformed. Part of our job as ambassadors of Christ is to help right this wrong through discipleship. Don’t expect a quick and easy solution, it’s going to take some time to change perceptions.
Yes, the world will hate us for we don’t belong to the world, we’ve been adopted into the family of Christ. The world is bent on anger, hatred, selfish pride, and misguided motivation. It only makes sense from that perspective that we will be targeted as rebellious. We are!
But before you don your sword and armor, hear some more of the words from Jesus, the highlights that John provided for our benefit.
Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. John 15:20-21
Perhaps this was one of the many reasons that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples just a few minutes before telling them this story. We need to be servants first, not seek to be great among people. In the process, we will be mistreated because they mistreated Jesus. It’s good to have expectations set early on.
I wonder if this passage is referred to by those who say things like, “just say this simple prayer, it’s easy, you’ll be saved and go to heaven…” Unlikely. As for me, easy things in this life are not so valuable. Not that things have to be hard for the sake of being difficult, but that which we earn through hard work and effort are much more significant than those things handed to us on a silver platter. Studying hard for an exam, passing the test after repeated attempts, is far more rewarding than using a cheat sheet or bribing the test official. The former builds character while the latter has none.
No Longer Innocent
This is one of the most convicting passages for our consideration: no excuse for their sin.
22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ John 15:22-25
The “they” in this instance is clearly directed at the Pharisees and others who have had the distinct privilege of hearing from Jesus. They can’t “unsee” what has been seen, nor “unhear” what has been heard. They have seen and heard and chosen to continue to march Jesus toward the cross. Their hate has deceived themselves and many, many others.
Lord, help us to continue to be Your voice in this world, to speak out against the hate that is projected toward you in so many ways. Give us courage as you promised our forefathers so long ago. Holy Spirit, give us wisdom and the right words to say at the right time to defuse tense arguments, to turn enemies to friends. You alone can do this, but for some crazy reason, you choose to do this through us. May we succeed in small and huge ways and give You all the glory!