John 15:18-16:4 The Coming Hatred WC McCarter
It is a natural, human desire to have everyone love you. No one likes to be disliked, ignored, hated, or worse, persecuted. This is what high school and college students spend all of their time doing, trying to fit in with the crowd. Do you remember those days? Of course, adults fall into the same trap of trying to please everyone so that no one dislikes them.
I think many Christians are suffering from this tendency in relation to the world. I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to letting people know that I am not some kind of quacky, legalistic Christian. If I come to visit you, I am not going to be wearing a three piece suit and carrying a Bible. At best I’ll wear a nice shirt and dress pants, but you may even see me in jeans and a t-shirt. If we need a word from the Lord, I have hidden a lot of His word in my heart for those occasions. I’m a normal guy who’s trying to live the Christian faith I believe in. But, when Christians are trying everything they can to fit in with the world, we have a problem. I heard a well-known and respected pastor say yesterday that he could deal with people who say they are done with Christianity, and they are going to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow they die. What is more difficult to deal with is a Christian who wants to eat, drink, and be merry and call that Christianity. As the pastor said, “That is dangerous” (Piper). Why is it that so many Christians want to fit in with everyone around them? They do not want to be ignored, despised, hated, mistreated, or oppressed, but that is not the way we have been called to live. We have been saved out of darkness and welcomed into the wonderful light of Christ in order to shine like stars in the crooked and perverse generation.
Despite our yearnings to be accepted, Christ promises in today’s passage that we will be hated by the world. Now, that does not mean that we should pursue opposition or incite hostility. We should do everything we can to live peaceably and quietly waiting for the Lord’s return, but inevitably there will be those who do not like us simply because of the fact that we belong to Christ.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
The World Hates You (18-20)
There is no doubt that Jesus uses the “If the word hates you” line to point out that the world “will” hate them. The remainder of the context, and the history of the church, proves that true. Just like Christians are supposed to love their brothers and sisters, so too the world loves its own. We see this played out in society today. Irreligious people band together. It seems that almost everyone advocated for gay rights these days, even some professing Christians. We know that most people are not gay, so why is that? The world loves its own. Atheists are now even starting their own “churches.” There was an article in the newspaper not too long ago about this. Why do they band together? Why do they support one another? Why is the media united in opposition against evangelical Christianity? The world loves its own.
This is something that we need to come to terms with – Jesus says point blank, “The world hates you.” Take a minute to swallow that down. Why is it that the world hates us? There are a couple of things named here which are closely related. First, we are not of the world because Christ has chosen us out of the world. We have been chosen by the King, and we pledge our allegiance to Him, but the rest continue in their rebellion against Him. Rebels despise loyalists. The second reason we are given for the world’s hatred of us is the fact that we are followers of a certain Master who they have already persecuted to the point of death. The rebels will respond to us the way they did our Master, that is, some will accept our message (very few) and others will reject the message and persecute us (most everyone). We are in the minority by far. Get used to it.
They Do Not Know Him (21-25)
The world will not oppose you or persecute you because of you as a person. They will do so because of Jesus. They hate Jesus. They do not know Him. They do not know the One who sent Him, God the Father. You belong to Him. They lashed out against Him and put Him to death, although He was raised from the dead. He has ascended back to the Father, but we are still in this world. We are not His visible representatives. They lash out at Him by lashing out at us.
Jesus says that the world would have no sin if it weren’t for Him. It is not that the world was in sinless perfection prior to His arrival, but Jesus exposed their sin. The greatest of their sin, the culmination of it, and the most condemning thing that Christ exposed was the world’s rejection of God and His plan of redemption. As the Apostle Paul said in Acts 17 in Athens, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent. . . .” There is now no excuse.
How sad it is that the Jews own Scriptures predict and condemn their negative response to God’s redemptive plan. People who were so intent on keeping every letter of the Law ironically do so by rejecting the Messiah of promise. It is ironic and pitiful for them.
Bearing Witness to Christ (26-27)
Jesus mentions the Holy Spirit again here because it is the Spirit who will help the believer to handle the pressures of the world, the coming persecution. It is the Spirit who will testify of Jesus and help the disciples to bear witness to the truth about Jesus. That is why He is called the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit gives a faithful and accurate testimony concerning Jesus. The disciples could do the same, with the help and counsel of the Spirit, because they had been with Jesus from the beginning of His public ministry. The Spirit and the disciples would both bring to light the same Christ and the same message of Good News. Yes, the Spirit will bear witness to Christ, but also “there is a responsibility resting on all Christians to bear witness to the facts of saving grace” (Morris, 607). It is our responsibility and privilege to share the news about Jesus Christ as well. We should pray that the Lord would give us opportunities to make Him known, that we would recognize those opportunities, and that we would boldly take advantage of those times.
That You May Not Stumble (1-4)
Jesus gives another reason for saying these things which is that they may not stumble. This word “stumble” can be understood to mean “go astray,” but there are also elements of surprise and the sense of being trapped. Jesus tells His disciples these things so they are not caught off guard or find themselves in a trap and end up in apostasy, i.e. losing their faith. We cannot even imagine the hardship they would face for believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the same is true for thousands of believers around the world today.
Jesus gives them a preview of what would come and says that they would be put out of synagogues and even killed “in service of God.” We know this to be true even from our own biblical record. Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle, was one of the fiercest persecutors of the early church. He was busy dragging off men and women from their houses and synagogues and committing them to prison. He was consenting to the deaths of many including Stephen, the first recorded martyr. He did it all thinking that he was being obedient to the will of God. That is terrifying. Yet, the same is happening today all around the world. There are those who go out seeking to harm and even murder Christians in the name of “God.” Please pray for your brethren around the world. Pray that they will not be made to stumble, but will receive the distress in Jesus’ name. And prepare yourself for persecution to come.
When the persecution came the disciples would remember what Jesus told them. He didn’t have to say this before because He was with them. While Jesus was with them He could absorb the attacks of the adversaries and provide guidance for His disciples. Now He is leaving. They must be prepared.
Conclusion and Christian Application
This message could almost be prophetic. I am not a prophet, Jesus already said this a long time ago, but there seems to be no misgivings on how the cultural tide is rolling. We are no longer living in a culture that reinforces Christian values to any extent. We are going to face more opposition in coming years than we ever have in our history as a nation. Christian people need to be ready, especially the younger folks. Are we going to band together to live this Christian life, or are we going to disband because of the pressure we will face? Let me encourage you to make a resolution today before we face the pressure as to whether you will side with the Lord Jesus or the hateful, lost world. If you are ready to pledge your allegiance to Christ and be united with Him, there is a proper response to the Gospel. You must repent of your sins, put your faith in Christ, and be baptized in order to be united with His death and resurrection.
(1) If you are abiding in Christ, you will face opposition.
(2) Do not be surprised by opposition and/or suffering. Christ has said that we will all face it. He has gone before us and suffered in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. We are not greater than our Master. We must walk the same path that He has walked which is to glory by way of suffering. The Apostle John said this plainly in 1 John 3:13, “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.”