15:18 “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 fulfill 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.
16:1 “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.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- What is the conflict between Christ and the world? Explain.
- Why is that conflict important for Christians to ‘keep in mind’?
- If Christ is the paradigm and pattern of the Christian experience, how was he treated and how should we expect to be treated?
- Why do think this teaching sounds so strange to the modern ear? Does the strangeness make it inapplicable to us today? (Why or why not? Explain.)
- What does it mean to testify about Christ? How are we to do that? What role does the Holy Spirit play?
- When mistreated, how should we respond? How does the gospel inform our response?
- How does this passage help us see and appreciate the gospel of grace?
In the Vine
*This transcript is generated from the sermon audio. This document has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or exactness.
The rest of us, if we could find Bibles and get to John chapter 15 and there are Bibles here on site, we’ll also put the verses up on the screen behind me, if you’d like to do it that way. We’re in John chapter 15. And in the Bibles that we have here, we’re on page 928, nine, two eight before I read the text and pray and we’ll get to work, let me just take a moment. We’ve not done this in a while, but I do want to honor those who are watching online. We’ve got individuals from our church family that watch at home for health reasons. But then I was reminded recently of the amount of people that are watching. And I was reminded because I got a text message from a dude down in Florida that I used to do action sports ministry with, and he was just letting me know, I’ve been watching your sermons and loving it. But we have not only local individuals who are home watching, we also have people who are in the suburbs of Chicago who watch every week. We’ve got individuals in Kansas that are watching on a weekly basis. We’ve got a family that moved down to Texas, and they’re in the process of finding a local church down there. But in the meantime, they’re watching online. And so that’s been an encouragement to hear that we’re able to serve them in that way and then individuals in Florida and elsewhere. And so if you’re one of those people, I’m not trying to call you out. I’m just trying to honor you. And to our church family, thank you for sharing. Thank you for being willing to allow the cameras to be in here. And sometimes we take pictures, and I know that can be intrusive and whatnot, but for people who aren’t able to be here for various reasons, they appreciate it. So thank you, church family. And if you don’t mind, why don’t you give your appreciation to them for watching it? All right, let’s read John chapter 15. Starting in verse 18, reads like this
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong 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’s why the world hates you. 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. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 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. Whoever hates me hates my father as well. 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 have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their law. They hated me without reason. 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. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 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. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their time comes, you will remember that I warned you about them.
This is the word of the Lord. Let’s pray. Lord, as we open Your Word together and as we read it, we’re praying that by Your Spirit, through Your Word, you would speak to us. We’re praying, God, that you would help us to be Your faithful people. We’re praying that even the message of the Scriptures and the ones that are hard for us to embrace and adopt, like today, we pray, Lord, that you would give us the ability to gladly practice them. We pray, God, that you would help us to be a people who are ready, that have been warned by our Lord Himself of what’s to come, and that we would be a people who can handle the hostility and the conflict of the world rejecting us and rejecting our King. But let us do that with love and graciousness. Let us do that with patience and endurance. Let us honor you by looking like you. We pray in your name. Amen. Amen.
I’ll just get ahead of this one. You’re not going to like the sermon today. And it might be because of me or the way I present or whatever, but I’m talking mainly today about the content. The content of what John chapter 15 and into the beginning of John 16 have to say to us. What it’s expressing here is to be a Christian and to follow the Lord is not going to be easy. Let’s at least put it like that. It’s not going to be easy. And so this is a message that is desperately needed, but often rejected even by us. Let me show you here the three things that I want you to see. There’s a conflict that we experience. There’s a calling that we possess and there’s a cost to following the Lord. There’s a conflict that we experience.
There’s a calling that we possess and there’s a cost to following the Lord. Let’s look at these one at a time.
THE CONFLICT WE EXPERIENCE
The conflict comes in verses 18 to 25. The Lord tells us there is a conflict and we need to be prepared for it. Let’s look at it. Verse 18 if the world hates you, keep in mind it hated me first. So Christians are a people who are able to recognize there is a hostility toward our Lord and there is therefore an expectation that the hostility that they treated Him with is what we come to expect and experience as well. He becomes the paradigm for Christian faithfulness. So because the world rejected Him, we expect that if we’re faithfully following Him, we’re going to experience the similar kind of treatment. So if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. The rejection of Jesus is something that the Bible presents as fact. John the one who’s writing this, he’s been talking about this throughout the entire Gospel account that he’s writing. And in fact, in the opening prologue, the introductory chapter, he says, light has come into the world. And then he talks about how light and darkness are in conflict with one another, Jesus and the world that he’s made. And he actually puts it like this in chapter three, verse 19, he says, this is the verdict. Light has come into the world. He’s talking about Jesus Christ. Light has come into the world. But people loved the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil. He has come. He is beautiful, he is radiant in glory. But the world looks on him and resists him because it’s in conflict. The world is unwilling to surrender to Him. I’ll try to explain why that is the case as we move through this. But Christians then who are faithfully following the Lord, recognize that conflict is a part of the gig, that the world is going to look on the light and they are going to resist it. The world is going to be reluctant to embrace the way of Jesus Christ, but those who are following Christ are stepping into a conflict then. This is such a normal thing in the first century that it became a part of their program for encouraging church people. I’ll show it to you in Acts chapter 14. So Paul and Barnabas were planting churches. They were missionary church planters that would go to different places. They would preach the gospel. When people would hear the message of Christ and trust in Him, they would start a church. But because they were missionary church planters, paul and Barnabas would be like, peace out, we got to go do that again and again and again. So they were planting all these different churches and they got done with a circuit of church planting and they said, we better go back and encourage the churches that we started. So they make a second pass. And in Acts chapter 14, we get the second pass. In verses 21 and 22, they went back, they returned. Verse 21, strengthening the disciples and encouraging to remain true to the faith. Here’s how they encouraged them. They said this, we must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Their word of encouragement was, hey, has it been hard for you guys? Has like, following the Lord been a difficult thing? Have you experienced any persecution? Have you had difficulties in your life? Okay, well, here’s the gig. We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God. So that’s your encouragement, what you’re experiencing is normal. Church, if you are going through a hard time, that is normal in the Christian experience. So Christ tells us, if the world hates you, keep this in mind it hated me first. And the reason why is you are different. You have been called out of the world. Verse 19 if you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. If you simply had a relationship with the world that had this solidarity that you’re just another person, another individual in the world. If you belonged there, if you had that relationship with the world in that way, the world would gladly embrace you. You’re one of us. You do the things that we do. You care about the things that we care about. But as it is, as a follower of Christ, you no longer have that same relationship to the world. Look at verse 19. It reads like this as it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That’s why the world hates you. Those that have trusted in Christ now have a different relationship to the world itself, because we have transferred our allegiance from the things of this world to the person and work of Jesus Christ. We have transferred our allegiance from being just another ordinary person in the world, living like everyone else, to becoming a follower of Him. And now the world perceives that as you are no longer one of us, in fact, you are a threat to our happiness and to our existence. Your very presence is a threat to us. That’s what Jesus is saying. You are now given a new identity in Him. You have a new citizenship in heaven. You have new marching orders. You’re not just like anyone else that you would ever meet as a follower of Him. You have a new heart and new desires. You have new commitments. You are a new creation. And the old creation resents that. And they look at us and they say, you actually are a problem. Now, the thing is, this is weird, what Jesus is saying here. We resist it. Incredibly, to be called out of the world and to become committed entirely to Him and different from the world is something that we actually think is a bad idea. I’ll tell you a couple of different examples of where I’ve seen this. So I’m 41 years old. I’ve been a Christian for a long, long time, but I remember some of you will remember this as well. Do you guys remember the early two thousand S? And do you guys remember how Christianity had this special emphasis where we were trying desperately to show that you can be a Christian and be cool? That was like our passion project. It was like we wanted to be relevant, we wanted to be trendy, we wanted to be cool. And so there was a lot of ministry efforts in that direction. In fact, the ministry that I first pioneered that was like our Mo. I was an action Sports Ministry director and I was doing skateboard and wakeboard ministry and just trying to travel around. I had crazy big hair, shaggy hair, and you guys are like, Wait, what? But I was desperately trying to show you can be a Christian and be cool. You can be a Christian and be cool. But what does Jesus say? You’ve been called out of the world. The world hates you, right? So that very philosophy of ministry that I was embracing and working so hard on, jesus says that’s never going to work because you’ve been called out of the world, so the world’s going to look on you. Even if you’re doing stunts and weird things, they might enjoy that. But when they see that your allegiance is Him and your commitments are entirely to Him, no matter how cool you may appear, christianity will be hated by the world. Keep that in mind. I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. So that attempt was a fool’s errand to try to make Christianity cool. Aleister McGrath, a British theologian and church historian, he studied all these different errors within the Church, we call them heresies, and he was studying all of them, and he put it together in a book. And at the end he has some conclusions and he says, here are some things that I see with every single heresy, every single major error within the history of the Church. One of the consistent features of heresy is a desire of the adherence of that heresy to take the truth of God and to make it more acceptable within their culture to take the truth of God and try to adapt it so that they can be in a better relationship with their society with the culture that they’re in. That’s a key feature of heresy. Now, the thing that I’ve noticed as a pastor is most of us are incredibly unaware of the cultural influence that we have when we come to the Bible, and many are unaware of that. But when we do things like we try to make Christianity cool and we try to adapt what God is saying, we actually might be losing the truth of what he’s called us to be and do. A more contemporary example of this would be the efforts to engage in culture wars and to say things like this we want Christian values to become embraced again. Now that’s a good thing that’d be a wonderful thing. We love it when Christian values are embraced, but if that becomes the primary thing that we do as the people of God and we try to get people to re embrace Christianity without ever following the Lord, what are we actually doing? We are presenting Christianity without a cross and that will get us nowhere anyways. But many people are trying to do that. So Jesus says, you do not belong to the world as a new creation. You are different. You look different, you are different. And the world is going to hate you because of that. And remember, you serve a crucified. Master, verse 20. Remember what I told you, a servant is not greater than his master. This is what he was teaching back in John chapter 13. He said, I’m your leader, so you’re going to follow me. So the things that I do and the things that I experience, you should expect that will be similar. A servant is not greater than his master. You’re going to do the things that I do. And here he applies it to persecution. And he says, if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. He’s telling us that we should expect if we’re going to be faithful to Him, if we’re going to walk in his way, we should expect to be treated like Him. Well, how was he treated? How was he received by the populace? Some people loved him. Some people embraced Him and listened to Him and trusted Him, but many people resisted Him. Many people looked at his messaging and they looked at the way that he called them to a radical commitment. And they looked at the things that just didn’t fit with what they wanted their spirituality to entail. And they looked at that and they hated it. They hated it so much so that they were willing to send him to Calvary, to a cross, to a Roman crucifix to be pierced and hung there to die. And Jesus says, a servant, remember, I’ve been teaching this all along. Remember this, a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, Jesus is saying, they will persecute you also. Now, this is weird because I’m saying this and you’re looking at me like a cow stares at a new gate because this is so foreign to our experience. This is so weird that anyone would even stand up here and say, christians should expect persecution. And we go, Wait, what are you talking about, dude? And in fact, there are a lot of places that you could go on a Sunday morning that would say the exact opposite thing of what I’m saying today. There are a lot of churches that where you could go, you could hear a message and some Bible peppered in and they would tell you things, know, you should be living your best life and every day is Friday. And if you get Jesus, he just makes everything better. But the Bible presents a message that actually says, if you follow Him, persecution is normal. And even in the American Western church experience, this feels awkward. But I have to say the Bible is true. And this thing that Jesus is saying I’m trying to prepare you for this is true. Christians experience the persecution of Christ. If they’re really following Him, they will experience participation in the sufferings of Christ. Persecution is so normal that in the early church, they would say things like this peter, one of the dudes at that table listening to this teaching firsthand. He would later write a letter and he’d say, don’t be surprised. Don’t be surprised at the things you go through that’s normal. And in fact, he says in one Peter 413, that when you go through those things, you are actually participating in the sufferings of Christ Himself. It’s normal. And it’s so normal, in fact, that it actually becomes something that we don’t just endure, we can actually rejoice in. So when the early church was persecuted and they went through difficulties, there’s a group of people that were arrested. This is Acts, chapter five, verse in the 40s. There, verse 41 is what I’m going to show you in just a moment. But there was a group that they were preaching Jesus, and so they got arrested, they got brought into a prison, and they got flogged, they got beaten, and they were being told, stop saying that name, stop doing what you’re doing. And they get beaten, and then they get freed and they’re leaving the prison experience there. In Acts, chapter five, verse 41, and this is what it says the apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering, disgrace for the Name. They went through persecution and they didn’t boohoo like God. How could you allow this to happen to me? I’m trying to follow you. How are you allowing no, they rejoiced because they understood that if they’re suffering for the Name’s sake, they’re joining in the ministry and the work of Jesus Himself. They were rejoicing for having been counted worthy, suffering, disgrace for the Name. And Jesus says, here’s why they didn’t listen to Him. They’re not going to listen to you. Look at verses 20 and 21. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. And some will. Some will listen to Christ respond with faith, but many reject Him in his ways. Verse 21 they will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the One who sent Me. They do not understand that this is the work of God, that the ministry of Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promises. And if you’re going to join Him in his mission and in his ministry, you also are going to be mistreated. And the world is going to treat you with hostility because you are a representative of the Lord. Bruce Milne, in his little commentary, which is excellent. He talks about this and he says, Jesus is implying that opposition comes not because people do not recognize Christ in us, but precisely because intuitively they do. We will experience persecution because people will recognize Christ in us, and that will provoke them. He puts it like this the world is still crucifying Jesus in its rebellion against God. The world has rejected Jesus, and because our mission is the continuation of his mission, we can expect no different treatment. If that’s how he was received in the first century, if that’s how the world mistreated Him, what do we anticipate will happen with us? If we are faithful to Him, we should be able to say same. How they treated Him is how we expect to be treated. And the reason why is given in verses 21 to 25 they do not know God. They do not see the ministry of Christ as the fulfillment of the promises of God. Verse 21 they will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent Me. They do not see the person and work of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of God’s promises. They don’t recognize that he’s been sent by God the Father. They don’t recognize that salvation is in his name, and they hate it. And they hate it because they’re convicted. They’re convicted of their sin. When Jesus shows up by his very existence, we are threatened by Him. We don’t like the fact that he reveals in us our inadequacy and our need for God because we would prefer to save ourselves, and in our pride we resist the things of God. So I want to show it to you here in verses 22 and 24, the words of Jesus, his ministry, his proclaiming ministry and the work of the Lord, his miraculous work that he performed among them actually revealed their sinfulness and their need for God. Verse 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. 24 is very similar. He says, If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. Which is interesting, right? You’re like, Wait, what does that mean? Like, if he wasn’t there, they wouldn’t be in trouble. But what he’s saying is he is the revelation of God. So by his presence, people came under conviction of their sinfulness, and they began to realize, okay, if that’s what I’m supposed to be like, that’s not me. If this is the standard of righteousness, I don’t have that. So people come under the conviction of sin because they’re having to reckon with the fact that God is holy and without holiness, no one can see God. And it provokes in us a hostility toward God because we realize we would have to embrace his way and not our way. A similar thing happens in Romans chapter seven, and I’ll show it to you just so you see the logic of the argument here. In Romans chapter seven, Paul is talking. So in our text, Jesus is talking about, if you like, the law of Christ, his words and his works, his ways, and it provokes people to recognize their own sinfulness. In Romans chapter seven, Paul is talking about the law of Moses, the Bible, and what the Bible tells us. Now, Paul was a dude who loved the Bible, and he was engaged in ministry in significant ways, and he was reading the Bible over and over again. And he thought he was doing a really good job because he was trying extra hard, extra, extra hard as a Pharisee. But when he read the Law, he realized, oh, crud, I’m a sinner. I’ll show it to you here. This is Romans seven, verses seven and eight. He says, I would not have known what sin is had it not been for the Law, for I would not have known what coveting really was if the Law had not said, you shall not covet but sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the command produced in me every kind of coveting. What he’s saying is, I was doing just fine. So I thought. And then I read my Bible, and it exposed me because the Bible legislates my inner feelings and how I long for things that I don’t possess. And he goes, I was doing just fine if you were looking at me. I was in church. I was doing all the churchy stuff. I was following all the rules. But then this Bible verse showed up and destroyed me because it revealed what was really going on inside of me sin. Because of the opportunity afforded it. There was all kinds of coveting in me. I started to look around and realize I covet everything. Anything I don’t have, I want. So when Jesus says, by my words and my works, people have no excuse for their sin, it’s because he has shown up as the revelation of God Himself, and he has shown us the righteousness that is required. And by his very presence, then humanity is threatened by Him. If we’re going to be in a right relationship with God, we have to be like Him. Are you kidding me? I could never do that. That’s exactly the point. He has come to make a way for us to be reconciled to God. They reject God because they do not understand who Jesus is or what he has come to do. The world hates Him and hates his work. Look at John. Three. We’ll put it up on the screen here. This is verses 19 and 20. It says, this is the verdict. Light has come into the world. But people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. What is that saying? The natural inclination of the human heart is to resist the things of God. Because of our sinfulness, because of the darkness in us, we reject the ways of God. And when light comes, we actually hate it because it exposes us. Jesus has come to reveal not only our sinfulness, but also that he is the way of salvation. But people reject Him because they do not apprehend that. They do not see Jesus as the way, the truth and the light. So he says, Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. Not only are they rejecting Him, they are ultimately rejecting the entirety of the work of God. Verse 24, as it is, they’ve seen and yet they have hated both me and my Father. People see the work of Christ and they reject the work of God. But this is to fulfill what is written in their law. They hated me without reason. They look on the Lord and they resist Him. So here’s what Jesus is saying. A follower of his will experience tremendous conflict and he tells us we need to have that in mind. That’s what verse 18 says. Keep in mind, if the world hates you, keep this in mind. Be prepared. The world hated me first. You better be ready for this one. There is hostility and this is built into the human experience. And he’s saying, I’ve called you out of the world and therefore the world is going to look on you and despise you and treat you with hostility and hatred, but you are mine. And in fact, as a follower of his, we have to be careful with how we relate to the world then, because we’re called out of it. So does that mean we look on it and we say, we don’t like that and we actually mistreat the world? No. There’s something that happened here that if you have the Bible open, you can notice it. If you look at verse 17, it’s meant to be an incredible contrast, what we talked about at the end of last week. He says, this is my command. Love each other. Verse 18, the very next verse. What does it say? The world hates me and it’s going to hate you. That’s a contrast. That is a very stark contrast. The follower of Christ is to be an expression of the love of God and the world will mistreat followers of Him and treat them with hatred. So I want to be really clear on this. When the world mistreats us, our natural inclination is to fight back. If they mistreat us, we’re going to put it to them. We’re going to retaliate, we’re going to show them how tough we can be. But the call of Christ is not that. The call of Christ is to love in the face of hate. It’s to be able to love people who are not acting very lovely. At all. They’re hating us. So we begin to look like Christ, who from the cross was able to look at his executioners and pray like this father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing. He’s loving them because he recognizes they are missing what God is doing, and he’s able to love them. That’s what we need to do. We are called into this incredible conflict and we are called to be people of light who are able to love in the face of hatred.
THE CALLING THAT WE POSSESS
Secondly, we see this incredible calling. Verses 26 and 27 though there’s conflict in the world, we have a job to do. And the job is to testify about our Lord and Savior. We are to make known who he is and what he has done. And we are actually joining in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is doing this on his own. Look at verse 26. When the advocate comes, that’s the Holy Spirit. 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. The Holy Spirit has come. What is he doing right now? One of the ministries that he has is convicting the world of sin. One of the ministries that he has is testifying to the person and work of Jesus Christ. That’s what he’s up to, if you’re like. What is the Holy Spirit doing today? He’s doing that. The Holy Spirit is testifying about Jesus Christ and his followers are supposed to join in that ministry. Verse 27 and you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. His followers are called to make known the news of what God has done in the sending of Jesus Christ. They’ve been with Him from the beginning. So the people around that table had some unique responsibilities. John, who wrote this, and Peter, who wrote some other things, they were writing these things down and making it clear they were testifying in that way. But that call to testify, it becomes a universal call for anyone who calls on the name of the Lord. Any follower of Jesus becomes a person who is called to testify about Him. We are invited into the mission of Jesus Christ. As his followers. We are invited to continue to make known the mystery of Christ. By telling the news and by living according to his ways, we get to testify about Christ. And the thing that this passage reminds us of is that by joining in that mission, we are joining in the suffering of Christ. Doug Webster put it like this. He said, “Mission, sooner or later leads into passion.” And he’s talking about the specific way that passion can be used to talk about the Passion of Christ, his willingness to go to the cross and suffer, bleed and die for us. He says, “Mission, sooner or later leads into passion. Every form of mission leads to some form of cross. The very shape of mission is cruciform. We can understand mission only in terms of the cross.” If we’re going to join Jesus in the work that he’s doing, we better expect that a part of our experience will actually be serving and loving other people while they hate and reject us. And the form that our ministry will take is actually the form of the cross. And people will hate us, but we will continue to love them. And we, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will have opportunities to persuade them to see the beauty of what Christ has done, and they will place their faith in Him. But if we’re joining in that mission, we better be ready for the demands, the calling that’s placed on us. Now, as a church, we organize ourselves to be missional, meaning we love what happens in here on a Sunday morning. This is significant. We do not forsake the gathering together to encourage each other and to equip each other. But the main ministry happens away from here. And we deploy you, we pray over you, we equip and train you to send you out on mission. And this message today is an important feature of that. Because if you don’t know what you’re getting into, you naively walk into a battlefield and step on a landmine. But we’re trying to tell you, when you go out in the name of Jesus Christ and when you proclaim and testify to who he is, don’t be surprised when the world rejects that invitation and mistreats you. The shape of our ministry is cruciform and people will mistreat you on account of Jesus Christ. So we better be ready for that. And that leads us to our third and final point here. It’s the cost, the incredible cost of this calling.
THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS
Verses one to four of chapter six the world hates Christ. They reject the Lord. We’ve been called to testify to who he is, and we expect a similar treatment. Jesus says all this, I’ve told you so that you will not fall. He says, I’m telling you in advance, I’m preparing you for this one. I’m trying to get you ready for this. I’m telling you so that when it gets difficult, you don’t abandon the faith, which is the word that’s used there. You don’t step away from your faith in Christ. Because the thing is, when people go through difficulties, like what I’m describing here, one of the temptations is to say, God, what gives? Like, why? I’m trying to serve you. And I go out in your name and I’m doing ministry and it’s not going well. And some people become so frustrated by that that they turn away from the Lord. Whether functionally or fully, they turn away from the calling that’s placed on their lives. But Jesus here says, I am preparing you for this. And this is a teaching you have to have in advance if you come in, know wonky and limping in and you say, Cor, I’m trying to do ministry and it’s hard, much harder than I expect. And I kind of go, that’s what you signed up for. You’d go. Shut up. Right. Like sorry for kids that shouldn’t hear that. But anyways, you go, I don’t want to hear that right now. I don’t want to hear that in my moment because this is hard. You need this one in advance. So that way when you go into it and it gets hard, you go, man, this is what Jesus warned me about. This is exactly what he told me about. And so here I am. And I know it’s going to be hard and difficult, but he is with me. But the hostility is going to be incredibly intense. Look at verse two. They will put you out of the synagogue. In fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think that they are offering a service to God. So your religious experience will be traumatic. In the first century, obviously they would go to a synagogue for their worship services. And what they were finding was that there was such hostility to followers of the way that they were excommunicated, you can’t be here, you can’t be in these services with us. You no longer are one of us. They put you out of there. And in fact, there was such hostility toward followers of the way of Jesus Christ that people would seek them out to have them arrested and executed. That’s what Saul was doing. If you read the Book of Acts, he was getting permission slips from his church leaders and government officials so he could go and arrest Christians to have them executed. That’s what happened to Stephen, one of the martyrs in the early church. In the Book of Acts, they found him and he kept preaching about Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messiah expectations. And they said, now we’re done with that. We’re done with you. And they stoned him to death. But what did he do? Even while he was being stoned, he was praying the words of Jesus Christ, father, forgive them. They do not know what they’re doing. And he was loving them in the midst of their hatred of him. But here we’re being told Jesus is saying, they are going to persecute you, they will put you out, they will mistreat you. And they will actually think that that is worship to God. They will so misconstrue construe the things of God that they will be willing to kill you to be rid the earth of your ways of the way of Jesus Christ. Now, this is very confusing, but I do want you to be aware that as a follower of Jesus Christ, there are even going to be moments where within churchy people, within spiritual people, within religious people, if you’re following the Lord, religious people might look on you and say, we hate your guts. If you’re actually following Him and doing these different things, we do not think that’s right. And they will mistreat you and even label it as service to God. So religious leaders are in view in the first century and still very much can be a problem. I could be a problem. But what is saying is you better be prepared for this. And some of the persecution will come from people you wouldn’t expect. Bruce Milne again, he puts it like this, ‘Not all who oppose the missionary witness of Jesus are depraved, half crazed, persecutors brandishing machine guns, right?’ We start thinking about persecutors. What do they look like? And you’re like, oh, they look like terrorists. And he goes, no, that’s not always the case. ‘Sometimes they look like fine standing people, upright people who just have religious scruples with you.’ So we need to be prepared to commit ourselves to the way of Christ, even in the face of incredible opposition. Verse three, they do such things because they have not known the Father or me. He’s saying they don’t know what they’re doing. Verse four, I’ve told you this so that when their time comes, you will remember that I warned you about them. Jesus again, is trying to prepare us. I’m trying to help you be ready for these things so that you are prepared for hostility and conflict and suffering. And the question I would have for us is, are you ready? Are you prepared for these sorts of things? Do you have this clear expectation in view of what it looks like to follow the Lord? Here’s something I want to point out as we wrap up this morning. There’s an interesting observation that Mickey Klink pointed out, the word that’s here in verse two, and in verse four, it’s actually the word for the hour. So in verse two it says, in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think that they’re offering a service to God. And then in verse four he says, I’ve told you this so that when their time comes that’s the phrase there. So that when their time comes, you will remember that I warned you about them. And that saying of the hour has come is a loaded saying, because the hour has come is indicating what Jesus is about to do. The hour has come for the Son of man to be executed and exalted. The hour has come for Jesus to go to Calvary, to suffer on the cross and to die and to be buried in a tomb. The hour has come. And so he’s saying, I’m telling you this because the hour is at hand. These things are about to happen. Their time is coming. The hour is coming when they are going to kill Jesus and they’re going to think that it’s a service to God. And he’s saying, I’m trying to prepare you for this because the hour is at hand. So Mickey puts it like this while the Jews think that their service to God involves taking life from others, Jesus knows that his service to God the Father requires that he give his life for others. The irony is stark and Jesus wants his disciples to grasp it. What he’s doing in these final lessons is he is preparing his disciples for what is about to happen over the weekend, that he’s going to be arrested and tried and executed. The hour is at hand and these people will think that they are doing a service to God. But here’s the incredible thing. God is able to reverse the evil of those choices and use it for the good of our salvation. That Jesus was willing to go to the cross as the way in which we could come into a saving relationship with God. It’s a way for those who live in darkness to step into the light and to be embraced by God because he has made a way for us to become light. So he is reminding us here of the good news of the Gospel. The way that we experience salvation is trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, crucified, buried and risen for us. Jesus is the way. So in closing, we’ve seen here that Jesus tells us there is conflict in this world. Darkness hates light. You should be prepared for that. You have a calling as his follower to testify about who he is and what he’s done. You can make known the person and work of Jesus Christ by your words and by your life. And when you do that, you are signing up to join Him in his mission. So keep in mind that if the world hates you, it hated Him first. There’s nothing new. You’re not getting special treatment. You are following your King and his ways. And he ultimately went to the cross to show us the way to God, to make a way for us to be reconciled to God. And we place our faith in Him, and we invite others to do the same. And even when we’re mistreated, and even when people reject it, and even when they hate us, what do we do? We love. We love say, Father, forgive them. They know not what they’re doing. We are called to love like Jesus loved even to the point of suffering for others for their good. So, Church, I pray, and I hope that we could be a church that embraces this high calling, doing the mission of Jesus Christ in a hostile world for his glory.
Let’s pray. Lord, we’re asking in these moments for Your help. We’re praying for the ministry of the Advocate to come and testify to Jesus Christ. And we’re praying that the Advocate would steady us in the difficulty of suffering and persecution and hostility. And we’re grateful, Lord, that you’re able to teach us in advance. Most of us as I look out on the congregation, most of us are living quite comfortably and some of this stuff just feels odd to even talk about. But we want to be faithful to you, and we want to be prepared for the hour to come when people will mistreat us and they think that they’re doing a service to God. So would you prepare us for that sort of radical commitment to the Lord in his ways? And would you help us to testify about who he is and what he’s done so that more and more people come come to see him as the suffering servant who made a way to be reconciled with God the Father? So help us to do that, please. We pray in his name. Amen.