18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me first. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, for that very reason the world hates you. 20 Remember the saying I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too. If they held on to my word, they will hold on to yours as well. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I had not done the works among them that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 This was to fulfill the word which is written in their Law: ‘They hated me for no reason.’ 26 “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also are going to testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
Nobody likes to be hated. Think about the great lengths many people will go to in order to be liked by others. They may dress a certain way to fit in with the crowd. They may participate in popular activities even if they don’t personally like doing such things. They may go out of their way to be nice to people; especially those who are popular. Perhaps being popular isn’t important to you. But certainly we’d all rather avoid being hated by others. Being hated can lead to many unpleasant consequences. We may spend a lot of time being lonely, or the victim of nasty pranks, or having other people speak badly about us to our face and behind our back.
But Jesus tells us not to be afraid of being hated because you are a Christian. Jesus was hated when he was in the world. We’ve seen numerous examples of this in our studies of the Gospel of John up to this point. The leaders of the Jews were plotting against him. They wanted to have him arrested and put to death. Crowds of people would follow him for a time, but then many of them also rejected him. The day after Jesus spoke the words we’re studying he was mercilessly accused, condemned, tortured and put to death. Jesus called himself the Son of God and the promised Messiah. Many people came to hate Jesus and his message so much that they would do whatever was necessary to be rid of him.
You may never face torture, arrest, or death because you are a Christian. But being a Christian may cost you friends who don’t want to believe in Jesus as their Savior. Your faith in Jesus may cause family members to avoid you. You may lose out on promotions at work because you put spending time in God’s Word above your career. People may mock you for your faith, especially when you won’t join the crowd in some sinful activity. Christian college students may see their grades hurt because they stood firm on the teachings of God’s Word rather than accept the secular teachings that conflict with the Bible. Being hated and persecuted as a follower of Jesus can take many forms.
Sometimes, the idea of being hated as a Christian may seem too overwhelming for us to handle. We want to follow Jesus, but we don’t want to lose family or friends. The Son of God was strong enough to stand firm no matter what happened. But how can we ever hope to do the same? We’re sinful human beings. Sometimes our sinful flesh gets the better of us and we give into temptation. Sometimes we join the sinful world in doing things that we know are wrong. Sometimes the fear of rejection will lead us to stay silent about our faith.
Our Lord Jesus knows all this. As true God, who became true man to live with us, he knows all about facing temptation. He also knows the help we need to patiently endure persecution and remain faithful no matter what happens. Jesus said, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me.” The Holy Spirit has come. He has testified about Jesus and what he has done. You are among the ones he testified to. He has filled you with the good news that Jesus is your Savior. He has made it clear that because Jesus endured all hatred and persecution, even to the point of death, you have been forgiven of all your sins. The Spirit has filled you with the certainty that an eternal future of joy, peace, and glory is awaiting you in heaven. The troubles we face now in the name of Jesus are temporary. When Jesus returns for you they will be forgotten. Eternal life in heaven will, more than make up for anything you lost in this world as a follower of Jesus.
With our future secure, Jesus said, “And you also are going to testify.” The love Jesus showed us leaves no choice in this matter. We don’t want anyone to fall under God’s judgement. We don’t want a close friend or family member to be lost in their unbelief. There is only one way to rescue them from such a future. Testify about Jesus. Tell the good news of what Jesus did for you. Tell them how Jesus wants to do the same for them. Tell them now, before it’s too late. Then pray that the Holy Spirit will use your testimony to bring them to faith, just as he brought you to faith when someone testified to you about Jesus.
1 – Why was it important for Jesus to speak to his disciples at this time about the hatred an unbelieving world has toward Him and his Word?
That very night, the disciples would see that hatred first hand when Jesus was arrested. The next day he would be tortured and put to death. Soon after, they would be sent into the world to testify about their crucified and risen Savior. Most of them would eventually be put to death for their faith. They needed to know these things would happen. Testifying about Jesus was going to be hard and often dangerous work.
2 – Why does the world hate Jesus and his followers?
The message we proclaim is that we are all sinners who deserve God’s judgement. We can do nothing to escape this judgement on our own. We are saved only by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. The sinful world doesn’t want to hear such a message. The world wants to believe that it is already acceptable to God. Those who follow the sinful world want to believe that if there is a God that he will accept them into his kingdom because of their own good works. They don’t want to believe their need for a Savior to rescue them from their sins.
3 – Jesus said in verse 20 “A servant is not greater than his master.” He said the same thing in John 13:16. What did Jesus mean by this statement?
A servant shouldn’t expect to be treated better than his master. If the master is hated, his servants will be hated as well. Jesus is our master. The sinful world hated him. It will hate his followers as well
4 – What help does Jesus promise to give us as we strive to remain his followers in this sinful world
He promises to send “the Counselor” (the Holy Spirit) to us. He will testify to us about Jesus through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. The Spirit uses these means to strengthen our trust in Jesus in both good times and bad times.
If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to: