April 28: Suffering for Jesus' Name (John 15:18-16:4)
John 15:18-16:4 (ESV) If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.
In this passage Jesus prepares his people for the earthly costs of discipleship. Because they are disciples of Jesus, the disciples will be persecuted by a world that hates them. Indeed, the world will hate them because it first hated Jesus, revealing their hatred of the Father. In light of this reality Jesus teaches his disciples not only to persevere in the world but also to bear witness to the truth. By the power of the Holy Spirit, who witnesses alongside and through Jesus’ people, the disciples can know their identity in Christ and live faithful lives for him in the midst of a world that rejects them.
Review and Apply
- We can use the term "world" in many ways. What does Jesus mean by the "world" in John 15:18–16:4?
- Why does Jesus tell his disciples that they will be hated by the world? (See vv. 18-21)
- What is Jesus' analysis of the world's hatred? (See vv. 22-25)
- What (or who) is the great promise that Jesus' disciples can rely on in the midst of hatred, rejection, and persecution?
- What is the proper response of the church to persecution?
- In light of the promises of this text, what challenges to persevere as a disciple of Jesus do you find in your own heart?
- How effective are you at entering into the suffering of brothers and sisters in the congregation? Are you intentionally seeking to love and encourage them in the midst of difficulty?
- What measures might you take now to prepare for suffering and persecution? If it should come how will you persevere as a disciple of Jesus?
- Do you love (honor, serve, and desire) Jesus more than the world? Or do aspects of the world hold your affections more than Jesus?
The good times that we desire are times of freedom from disturbing bother–in which a man can read his paper without worrying, can get on with his business, can have gas for his car, and the pleasures and luxuries which we all enjoy. Those, we would say, are the good times. But perhaps from the divine point of view they are not. For the purpose of God for us is not the comfort of our bodies or the preservation of our interests, but the discipline of our spirits that we may become truly his people. . . . let it never be forgotten, it is precisely in suffering that the people of God are selected; in suffering they are known. (John Bright, The Kingdom of God: The Biblical Concept and its Meaning for the Church, p. 96)
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