“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 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. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. ” John 15.18-21
“They do not know the one who sent me…”
What does it mean to know the one who sent Jesus? Who is this? Certainly it is God the Father! Jesus is telling us this — if you know Jesus, you will know the Father.
Jesus also talks about hate and persecution in this passage. Those who killed him and persecuted him hated him. He threatened their very existence yet he was one of them. Yesterday we went to the Garden Tomb, a likely site of where he was crucified and buried. Vivid reminders of how the Jews manipulated the Romans to kill Christ on their behalf.
But this shouldn’t surprise us as followers of Jesus. He said, “Keep in mind, they hated me first.” In his words there is no whining, no fretting, no fear. He simply states the difference between being loved by the world (it’s sins and desires) and being loved by God. Look at the pop stars of today. They are loved by the masses. Taylor Swift grows in popularity while tumbling into worldliness, sin and debauchery. (This word debauchery by definition includes an assortment of sins. Google tells me its also a death metal band from Germany. How fitting!)
Back to the point — the world hated Jesus and so it will hate us. But, our approval does not come from the world. He said — “I have chosen you out of the world,” which is why the world hates us. We are holy, different and set apart.
God has always called his people to be holy and set a part. From the early days of settlement of the Promised Land until today, God is calling us to “be holy as he is holy,” (1 Peter 1.16.) Sometimes I act like I am set a part and other times I fall into the same hedonistic sins of the forefathers and foremothers.
Today I am in Jerusalem. Again, where Jesus spoke the words in John 15. He promises persecution but he also promises salvation. He guarantees that we will be hated but only because they hated him and killed him for his beliefs.
Some might say Jesus was a martyr but a martyr remains dead for what they believed. Our Lord was raised from the dead unto new life. He overcame sin and death and now lives in Heaven, seated at the right hand of God. As I walk the Holy City today, I remember I walk in his steps. Not perfect but redeemed. Not a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness.
Thanks be to God.
“O Lord God, you are good. I thank you that all who believe belong to you. Thank you for not giving up on your people even when our love fails. Come now, Holy Spirit! Fill us with your power and love. Help us find hope and strength within your word. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen