I believe there are three words every person longs to hear... “I love you”. Everyone wants to be loved by someone at some point in their lives. Wouldn’t you agree? Jesus spoke often about love. In fact he has spent a good deal of time on the subject of love. In the English Standard Version Bible Jesus uses the word “love” in one form or another at least 23 times in John chapters 13, 14 and 15. Every time he uses this word he speaks it in terms of loving one another, loving Him, loving his Word, loving the Father, or being loved by both the Father and Son. Love is an important part of the message of Jesus throughout his ministry here on earth and the message continues through today. Love is an integral part of the Christian life. Because of love we know we belong to the Father. Since love is an important aspect of 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.
On the flip side the three words nobody wants to hear is, “I hate you!” These words when spoken in a scathing and spiteful manner can cause one to experience immense emotional and spiritual damage that could potentially negatively impact a person for life. “I hate you” are three words that cut to and destroy the heart of any person. Has anyone ever said to you with fury and angst, “I hate you!”? How did/does that make you feel? I can guess with much confidence that it makes you feel horrible, low, and worthless. Isn’t it amazing the power and pain these three words have to them?
Not surprisingly since Jesus spoke so much about love he did not speak much about hate. Not surprising also is Jesus never spoke of hatred in a positive way. In fact he taught just the opposite, we are told not to hate our enemies but to love them. We are told to hate evil and love righteousness. However in today’s passage we are given some insight to hatred in the believer’s life. Unfortunately as followers of Jesus we will experience hatred, detesting, loathing and abhorring personally in our own lives and usually without a good reason (if there even was a good reason to hate).
Read John 15:18 – 16:4
As a follower of Jesus do you ever wonder why people are so hostile towards Christians? It doesn’t take much convincing that Christianity is rarely put in a positive light in both the media and social circles. You may have heard Christians referred to as narrow-minded, bigots, hate mongers, hypocrites, extremists, the moral police, judgmental, and a whole slew of other negative names. Why is this so? Well, unfortunately because there are so many professing Christians that actually are one or many of the above, but not all are.
Verse 18: “If the world hates you…” Jesus speaks to his disciples to forewarn them or “cushion the blow” when they go out into the world (after his death and crucifixion) that they and the message they proclaim will be met with hostility. I think the statement could be implied that Jesus is telling them to expect to be hated in this world and he gives us the reason why.
First we need to define the world that is spoken of that will be hostile towards them… There are three possible meanings.
Jesus refers to the third meaning. He informs his disciples (and us today) that the world or the mass public who is essentially ungodly will in fact hate you. Why? Because it has hated Christ first and foremost. Jesus came to the world (planet) to bring salvation, joy, peace and forgiveness. The world who is against God will not tolerate one who is filled with joy, peace, love and forgiveness because they cannot truly experience these things aside from Christ. As Christians we represent Jesus and his teaching. I find it a little confusing how the world can be so antagonistic to a man who came to bring redemption, peace, joy and forgiveness and to those who follow him.
Verse 19: If we belonged to this world then we would be accepted by the world. We would be loved and welcomed by the world and we would in turn desire the world back. The truth is as believers we do not belong to this world, simply because we have been chosen or called out by Jesus and thus we will be hated. Now we must resist the temptation to believe that since we are called out of the world we are...
Verse 20: I think this verse directly relates to the third temptation. We must be reminded that our master, savior, and Lord was hated, persecuted, scoffed at, humiliated, and forsaken by the masses so we should not expect to be treated any better. We are, in effect, guilty by association. I get so tired of meeting people that think they need to water down the Gospel or try to defend God so that he doesn’t look so bad. Some actually think they can make the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus so attractive and less offensive so 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 will also persecute you.” We should not marvel or get all in a bunch when we are met with hatred and resistance because of our belief. 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 expect to be treated the way He warns.
Verse 21 - 23: Plain and simple if one hates the Son then he hates the Father as well.
Verse 25: “They hated me without a cause”… (Psalm 35:19). 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 his reason for this discourse. He is warning and encouraging his disciples so that WHEN they experience hatred by the world they will not allow this to cause them fall away. He warns about the persecution and hatred that is to come and when they face them they must 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, 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 actually call for their death because of the Jesus they follow and in terminating someone for their belief think they are doing God’s will. Recall the Apostle Paul (who was called Saul) when he looked on the persecution of Christians with approval. He thought he was doing God a favor by persecuting Christians.
Verse 3: However Jesus informs them that they are doing this 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.
How many of you would sign up for something that guarantees you will become scoffed at by the masses, put you at risk of being physically or verbally abused, and could potentially land you in the morgue? This is why Christianity is so unique to other faiths. There is absolutely nothing logical about it. As followers of Christ we are commanded to love (God, each other and our enemies), obey the Words of Jesus, seek forgiveness of sins through Jesus, be shown compassion that is undeserved, and have abundant joy both here on earth and in the afterlife. One would think the logical conclusion for a believer is nothing but complete euphoria. Yet we are told specifically by Jesus that as a result of who we follow and represent we will be hated, scoffed at and potentially killed. This is why the believer must take heart the words of Jesus spoken of in this passage. The world may hate and despise us but the love of the Father will never leave us.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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