Lesson 90

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

15:17 I command these things to you, that you may love one another. 15:18 If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his lord.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 15:21 But all these things will they do to you for my name's sake, because they don't know him who sent me. 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 15:23 He who hates me, hates my Father also. 15:24 If I hadn't done among them the works which none other did, they wouldn't have had sin. But now have they seen and also hated both me and my Father. 15:25 But that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.'

 Today's Lesson 

The commandment of Christ is that His disciples love one another. But, He wants them to be aware that the love that they have for one another will not be returned by those outside of Christ. The world does not understand the love of God. It is set in opposition to Him. So, Jesus tells them how the world will react to them once He is gone.


First, He tells them that they will be hated for His sake. The world will hate them because it has first hated Him. "If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you." This is another example of how a servant is not greater than his master is. If the world has hated their Master, it will hate them as well. The opposition of the world is in this sense a great compliment for believers. To the extent that we are opposed, it is because it is clear that Christ has chosen us. The world would not hate us if we had not been separated from it.


Second, He tells them that because the world has opposed Him, their sin will be greater. When the church attempts to follow the will of God and is opposed by society, it is a form of judgment upon the society. If they hear the word and reject it, their sin is greater. "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin."


Most people do not think that they hate God. Most people who do not know God would describe themselves as agnostics rather than atheist. The agnostic purports to believe that we cannot know whether God exists or not while the atheist truly believes that God does not exist. But, Christ does not describe unbelievers with these terms of ambivalence. He says that those who do not believe "hate" God.


Certainly what happens to Jesus validates His perspective. Those that did not believe His message usually had violent reaction to His message. He was a polarizing person. People either loved Him or hated Him. They either wanted to follow Him or they wanted to kill Him. And, to the extent that we pick up His cross and follow Him, people will respond to us in much the same way. The world opposes us in direct proportion to how Christ-like our lives become.


Perhaps this is why most of us prefer to live Christian lives that are more tentative. We want to be committed, but not too committed. We want to draw close to God, but not so close that people will think us different or odd. This is the same fault that many of the Jews who were attracted to Jesus fell into. You may remember John 12:42 which stated. "Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they didn't confess it, so that they wouldn't be put out of the synagogue, for they loved men's approval more than God's approval."


Christ wants His disciples to be aware of what it cost to follow Him. He clearly states in Today's Scripture that there is a price to be paid for discipleship. Only those who value the fellowship of God more than the world will be willing to pay this price.


And, of course, there can be no doubt that God offers the greater value. God created the heavens and the earth and holds all things within His grasp. His love and approval is worth more that the acceptance of the world. But, we must understand there is a choice to be made. We cannot have both. We cannot be accepted by the world and chosen by God at the same time. We cannot be saints of God and live as the world does.


Which choice are you making in your life? Whose love are you seeking?


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