Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent. If you recall, each Sunday represents one of four symbols of Advent and they are hope, joy, peace, and love respectively. Thus, this Sunday represents love. Jesus spoke about love often. In fact, the subject of love and obedience is the dominant theme in the Gospel of John. Every time Jesus speaks about it he refers to either loving one another, loving Him, loving his Word, loving the Father, or being loved by both the Father and Son. Love is an important theme in the message and teachings of Jesus, not only in the Gospel of John, but throughout his ministry here on earth. Thus, we can safely conclude that showing and receiving love is an integral part of the Christian life. When we love one another, and we show love to those who hate us we show the world that we belong to the Father. Since love is integral to being a disciple of Jesus it is imperative that we not only show love to one another and to God, but also that we receive it. Love is a given and is a necessity in every believer’s life.
Ironically Jesus’ command to show, live in, and receive his love ultimately brings about the hatred of the world towards those who are followers of Jesus. Not surprisingly since Jesus spoke so much about love he did not speak very much about hate. However, when he did, He never spoke of it in a positive way. He taught just the opposite. He taught us not hate our enemies but to love them. He taught to hate evil and love righteousness. In today’s passage we see one more example of how God’s love for the world can lead to the world hating us and Him.
Unfortunately, as followers of Jesus we will experience and receive hatred, animosity, and loathing personally and in our lives usually without good reason. The words Jesus spoke about hatred in this passage are hard to accept but they are a harsh reality we must all face and come to terms with.
Hatred and the World
As a follower of Jesus do you ever wonder why people hate Christianity? It doesn’t take much convincing to show that Christianity is not always portrayed in a positive light in this world, media, and social circles. You may have heard Christians referred to or maybe you have been called narrow-minded, a bigot, a hate monger, a hypocrite, an extremists, or judgmental. Why is this? Well, unfortunately it’s because there are so many professing Christians that either are one of the previous mentioned or it’s because of who we represent and who are associated with.
John 15:18 - 27
Verse 18: “If the world hates you…” Jesus speaks to his disciples a warning that when they go out into the world (after his death and crucifixion) they and the message they proclaim will be met with hostility and hatred. He informs them that they will be be hated in this world and he gives them reasons why.
Before we get to his reasons, we need to define what Jesus means when he is talks about the world… There are three possible meanings.
Verse 19: If the disciples belonged to this world, then they would have been accepted by the world. They would be loved and welcomed by the world. The truth is believers do not belong to thie world, simply because we have been chosen or called out of the world by Jesus and we will be hated for this. We must resist the temptation to think that since we are called out of the world, we are…
1.Better than those in the world. This is where self-righteousness kicks in. We know this is not the case since we are all sinful and redeemed by the blood of Jesus and his grace and we are given eternal life through mercy, grace, and faith.
2.To shield ourselves from the world. Jesus tells us to be in the world and not of the world. We are called to love one another, our enemies, and our God. We cannot shelter ourselves from the ungodly world around us. God has placed us here to be the light of Christ and to share the Good News to a world that desperately needs good news.
3.To be so concerned about not being hated by the world that we try to fit in or be accepted by the world so as not to offend and come across as better than others. We don’t want to be thought of as irrelevant or archaic that we distance ourselves from Jesus so that we can be viewed in a positive light.
Verse 20: This verse relates directly to the third temptation. We must be reminded that our master, savior, and Lord was hated, persecuted, humiliated, and forsaken by the world so we should not expect to be treated any better. I get tired of meeting people that think they need to water down the Gospel or try to defend God so that Christianity doesn’t not look so bad. Some think they can make the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus so attractive and less offensive that it will be more appealing to the world. I agree with Matt Chandler, Pastor of the Village Church when he said, “The Gospel will never be considered cool by the world.” The world didn’t accept Jesus and the world will not accept us.
The second part of this verse scares a lot of people, but we must know and accept this, “If they persecuted me, they would also persecute you.” We should not marvel when we are met with hatred and resistance because of our belief and convictions. We should expect to be made fun of for our faith, cursed at for our devotion to Jesus and scoffed at for the Savior we love and obey. I also don’t believe that we should go out in the world and look to be persecuted so we can validate our faith. We should live as Christ commands, and we should expect to be treated the way He warns.
Verse 21 - 25: Plain and simple if one hates the son then he hates the Father as well. “They hated me without a cause”. The hatred of Jesus by the world is unjustified. There is no reason other than hatred of all that is right. All Jesus represents is good.
Verse 26, 27: However, when the Helper (as we know as the Holy Spirit) comes he will bear witness of who Jesus is and the disciples will bear witness of Jesus because they have been with him since the beginning of his ministry.
Chapter 16:1: Jesus gives reason for this discourse. He is warning and encouraging his disciples so that WHEN they experience hatred by the world, this will not cause them fall away. He warns about persecution and hatred that is to come and when they face their persecutors, they should remember His words of encouragement.
It is hard for me to come to terms with this as I am a person who likes to be liked. When I experience animosity from those who are of the world, I take it personal and I need to be reminded often, that it is not me they hate it’s the Jesus I serve and my hope and security must be rooted in that.
Verse 2: The disciples will experience intense persecution by those opposed to Jesus. They will face individuals who will call for public humiliation or death because of the Jesus they follow. Recall the life of the Apostle Paul (who was called Saul) when he looked approvingly on the persecution of Christians. He thought he was doing God a favor by persecuting Christians.
Verse 3: Jesus informs them that they are facing hatred and persecution because they do not know the Father and His love in not in them. They completely miss the point of purpose of Jesus’ act of redemption.
Verse 4: These things are told to believers so when the time does come, we will remember it is not us they hate, it’s the Jesus we serve they hate.
The idea that God loved the world that hated him is a hard pill for the Israelites and for Christians to swallow. The Jews knew that God had favored them as a nation. He made promises to them; He blessed them and committed to being their God (and He remained faithful in keeping these promises).
Now Jesus was not saying God only loves Israel exclusively, but He loves the world. His love is not restricted to a race, a nation or a select few it is for the world (literally the kosmos – the inhabitants of the world, humans). We need to be careful in our understanding of God’s universal love for the world. He loves the world and its inhabitants so much that he provided a way for humanity to be saved and made right with him through his one and only Son Jesus Christ. Those who accept this gift (whoever believes –puts complete trust- in him) will receive the new birth which includes eternal life (Kingdom of God).
Those who do not will perish – The word literally means to be lost, ruined, or destroyed. To perish is the opposite of eternal life; hence those who do not put complete trust in Jesus will face destruction, ruin, or loss. The truth is, since God so loved the world there is no need for anyone to perish. A way has been provided by which all might be saved, but a person must acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior.
This verse can easily be summed up as this, “God’s love for humanity was so great that he gave his best gift he could possibly give, his unique Son Jesus Christ, so that anyone who puts complete faith and trust in him will not face ruin, loss and destruction but will instead have true life for ever and ever.”
This is Jesus’ mission. Contrary to some people’s opinion God’s plan is not to destroy, judge, or condemn humanity. He is not a cantankerous old man in the sky just waiting to do away with sinners. Jesus tells us his plan is not for condemnation (or judgment) that will come later. His purpose is to bring salvation to the world through faith in Him.
This is a profound testimony of humanity. Jesus says, “This is why there is judgment…” The shining light (Jesus) came into the world of darkness to shine brightly the light of salvation. The light exposed darkness and evil for what it is and shone brightly as the glory of God. However, when the light came and illuminated the darkness some people chose to remain in the darkness (and continue their evil deeds in the secret) and not run to the light (which not only illuminates but consumes darkness). Why did they choose darkness over light? Because they preferred to live their lives without God; their hearts are wicked, and their deeds are evil. They are not willing to live their lives in the truth or light. People who choose to walk in their own ways and disregard the ways of God in turn hate the light and refuse to come to the light because they are afraid that their evil works will be exposed. The wicked do their deeds in secret and are afraid of the light because the light will expose their evil deeds; so, the light becomes a natural enemy to the dark. Even today those who are unbelievers are threatened by Jesus Christ. His truth and light expose their sinfulness and makes them uncomfortable and ultimately their sin/darkness pushes them farther away from Jesus and they hate him for this. “The best way to reveal the crookedness of one stick is to place a straight stick beside it. Coming into the world as a Perfect Man, the Lord Jesus revealed the crookedness of all other men, by comparison.”
Those who love the truth will run to the light and do their works openly because they are good and they from God. As one author writes, “Jesus becomes like a magnet. His people are drawn to him and welcome his revelation.” You and I (at least those who believe) are attracted to the light of Christ and we do our works openly for the world to see, not for our benefit but for the glory of God and so that others may glorify God in turn.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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