John 15:18-25; 16:1-4
They Will Also Persecute You
John’s gospel and his letters have several themes: light and darkness, eternal life and death, and the Father sending the Son, just to name a few. Another is the opposition of the world to God. This is what we see in this passage. John writes in his first letter, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (5:19). And in the same letter, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (2:15). The world lies in utter darkness. Christians have been delivered out of the world into God’s Kingdom of light and life (Ephesians 2:1-10; 5:7-15).
But this deliverance comes at a cost. Because the Christian is not of the world, the world hates him. The world loves its own; therefore, it cannot love the follower of Christ. But the Christian should not be surprised by this; after all, look what the world did to Jesus. So Jesus tells us, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” If they hated him, they will also hate us. And why did the world hate Jesus? Or better yet, why does the world hate Jesus? And why does it then hate the Christian? Jesus answers, “Because they do not know Him who sent me.” And then he adds, “Whoever hates me hates my Father also.” And this hatred for Christ and his people is inexcusable on the world’s part because Jesus has come and performed all his wonderful works. The world cared not for him then, and cares even less today. Thus, the world lies just as guilty now as ever before. Jesus tells us all these things so that we may be prepared when it happens. Indeed, the time will come, and already has in many parts of the world, when pagans (people of the world) will think they do their god service by killing us. Even “fellow-Christians” will persecute true believers.
Christians must understand this truth: the world hates God and His Christ, and that shall never change. Oh, it will re-mold and re-shape a christ after its own image: an inclusive christ, a tolerant christ, a sin-loving christ, a “don’t bother with repentance because you’re okay just as you are” christ. It’s called idolatry and it has been the world’s favorite sin since the first sin in the Garden. The world does not, indeed cannot, know the One who sent Jesus, so it knows not Jesus either. Thus, the world must create a god and a jesus to its own liking. But believers follow the Jesus of the Scriptures, the only Son sent from the Father, who is diametrically opposite the jesus and god of this world. Christians worship the Jesus who refuses to tolerate sin; so, the world worships the jesus who refuses to tolerate Christians.