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We finished our mini-series on ‘The Vine’ by looking at love. Now the tone changes and we look at the other side of the coin – hate. Look out for the word as we read John 15:18-27


18 ‘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.” 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. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfil what is written in their Law: “They hated me without reason.”

26 ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.


Jesus has to warn us because many Christians find the reaction of hate most unexpected. Perhaps they are prepared for others to be just disinterested, but hate is active and can be frightening, but it accurately describes the reaction of some people to Jesus.


18 ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 


Why should people have hated Jesus?

We have seen that many had vested interests, and there were some who truly believed Jesus was a dangerous rebel.


But why do people hate Christ and Christians today?


It is more than a personal reaction; there is a spiritual one too:


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. 


There is a vast distinction between the kingdom of darkness (the world) and the Kingdom of God. For the time being Satan still exerts his power in ‘the world’ and he is bitterly opposed to Jesus and any who welcome his reign in their hearts.


Christians no longer belong to ‘the world’ and have turned their backs on its ruler, so he (the devil) has declared war on us.

We have already seen that Jesus will never force people to love him. Love is not real if it does not spring spontaneously from our hearts. Satan however has no problem with encouraging people to hate and that may explain the extreme reaction of many regimes in the world today. Some are totally atheistic (North Korea), allowing no religion at all, others are simply anti-Christian (Syria), some specifically anti-protestant (Mexico).


(Useful web site: http://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/country_profiles.php?ref=footlnk )


We should perhaps remember (Study in John 15d) that unless God takes the initiative, no-one would be drawn to him. ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you’ (John 15:16)


20 Remember what I told you: “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 


We are not persecuted because of who we are or even what we believe, but because of who is now living in us. It is Jesus who is recognised and who provokes the response. Any reaction we receive to our Christian witness is not a reaction to us only, but to us as Christ’s representative. Soldiers are not attacked because of who they are, but because of who they are fighting for.


21a They will treat you this way because of my name,


Can someone explain the phrase ‘because of my name’ ?


In John 12:28 we read ‘Father, glorify your name!’ to which God replied:

‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.

The names of ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’ are glorious and powerful, and that is one reason why Satan encourages people to use them as swearwords, to degrade and dishonour them – notice no false god’s name is used in this way!


Anyone who bears the name of Christ, as his representative, will immediately become a target – almost like the reaction in the U.K.  to people with German-sounding names during the first and second World Wars.


21b   .  .  .  for they do not know the one who sent me. 

22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.


For the early disciples it was clear-cut. Everyone knew about Jesus and had either accepted him and his teaching, or they had rejected it: they were either for him or against him. Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 ‘Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.’


Is that fair today? What about those, perhaps born in atheistic lands where even the mention of Jesus’ name is forbidden? Are they against Jesus?


To answer that, we need to see people through Christ’s eyes. Are they in his kingdom, or the devil’s?


Romans 1:18-20 also explains that ignorance is not an excuse.


23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfil what is written in their Law: “They hated me without reason.”


And that is still true, there seems no logical reason why people should be so against Christians today – but they are.


Jesus now turns to more positive thoughts:

26 ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.


Jesus is well aware that the initial reaction to his death will be for the disciples to scatter and hide (Matthew 26:56b). But he also knows that when the Spirit comes with power they will be transformed and will go into the world as his ambassadors, spreading the word, speaking of their own personal experiences, and testifying to the Truth (The New Testament from Acts 2 onwards!).


But that is not to say that they will escape persecution, and Jesus is careful to warn the Apostles of what will happen to them.

Now read John 16:1-15


1 ‘All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, “Where are you going?” 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me;10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 ‘I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.’


1 ‘All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 

Becoming a Christian does not provide immunity from trouble; in fact it almost guarantees that it will come our way, but from unexpected sources.


2a They will put you out of the synagogue;

This was quite a harsh punishment, imposed by the ruling Jews for serious misdemeanours. The synagogue was the social centre of the community – being barred from it meant you were truly an ‘outcast’.

 

2b  .  .  .  in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.

Starting, of course, with Jesus. Acts 5:17, hints at one motive, but Acts 5:31-33 reveals the real problem:


3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.

We have just seen that that is why unbelievers are automatically against Christians.


 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 

The persecution only intensified after the Holy Spirit had been given and the Apostles began their ministry. Had Jesus tried to explain all this earlier, his Disciples would not have understood.


5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, “Where are you going?” 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 

Quite understandably, the Disciples were concerned for themselves if Jesus was to leave them. As we saw in the introduction, disciples would live with their Rabbi, learning to copy his every thought and action; until such time that they too were ready to take on disciples as Rabbis themselves.


This might be expected to take many years, for most of Jesus’ disciples it had been less than three, and they didn’t feel ready; so their thoughts centred on what they were going to do if Jesus left. Jesus had hoped that they would be more interested in where he was going!


7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 


The Disciples were imagining life without Jesus, and they were having difficulty in trying to work out what they might do. Again, Jesus explained that it will be for their own good: when the Holy Spirit comes and enters their lives in power they would know exactly what they should do.


8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:


Who are ‘the world’?

Those who have not accepted Jesus.

Did that include many of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Priests?

Yes

Whose job was it to pronounce on ‘sin and righteousness and judgment’?

The Sanhedrin: made up of 71 Pharisees, Sadducees, and Priests.


Why were they so much ‘in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment’?


Their attitude was that sin was breaking rules – either those contained in the Written Torah, the first five books in the Bible, or their Oral Torah, their traditional interpretations which added to this. But Jesus accused them of unhelpfulness and hypocrisy, even using their traditions to nullify some of God’s laws (See Mark 7:6-13 and Matthew 23).


Jesus explains below:


9 about sin, because people do not believe in me;

The greatest sin was rejecting the living Son of God and refusing the salvation he offered.


10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 

I found this phrase difficult – what do you make of it?


Perhaps the solution is to place emphasis on the ‘I’ – ‘I am going to the Father

Only those who are absolutely righteous could enter the Father’s presence, not those who believed they were righteous but trusted in their own works to save them.


The Apostle Paul in Romans 2:29-32, 1:1 explains:

29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them. 1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.


11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.


Even as Jesus was speaking, Satan was contriving the death of Jesus and so was writing his own death warrant. He simply did not believe that Jesus was truly God – he thought he was a mere mortal who could be killed.

We read in John 5:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (The study in John 5d covers Judgement)


12 ‘I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 

The Disciples would have much more to learn but until Jesus had died and the Holy Spirit had come upon them, their distracted minds would simply not take it in.


13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

After Pentecost things would be so much clearer, and doubts would be replaced with absolute certainty – the truth.


He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 

Just as Jesus only spoke words that his Father had given him (John 7:16, 12:49, 14:10, 14:24), the Spirit only speaks words of truth from Jesus. Sometimes these will be words of prophecy too.


14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.’


It would not be long before the scattered Apostles, meeting together again in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), would fully understand what this would mean for them; and how their actions in the power of The Spirit would truly bring Glory to Jesus.


The next study is a short one and could be added here.





John 15lJohn 16b








John 15:18-27  The world will hate you
John 16:1-15    Consequences for disciples

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