Saturday 08 May 2010

Bible Book:

"Remember the word that I said to you, 'Servants are not greater than their master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me." (v.20-21)

John 15:18-21 Saturday 8 May 2010


Prior to these verses, Jesus had been giving his disciples hisfinal teaching. The topic was about the meaning of being a followerof Jesus. Jesus had been talking to them about his relationshipwith God, about God's relationship with him and about Jesus'relationship with the disciples (and with everyone who would followJesus in the future). All these relationships were based on loveand on people demonstrating their love by following God'scommandments.

Today's verses switch gears. As the hour of Jesus' arrest grew evercloser, he told the disciples that, because they love and servehim, they can expect the world to hate them (meaning the communityof believers), just as it hated Jesus.

John's Gospel uses the idea of "the world" to express two separateconcepts:

  1. God's created order
  2. Those who stand outside the community of Jesus.

In the context of today's reading, "the world" is meant inthis second way. And the reason that the world will hate Jesus'followers is because it hated him. On the other hand, Jesus alsotaught that people who are willing to listen to his teachings willalso be willing to listen to the community ofbelievers.

There is no getting around the fact that this text isextremely black and white. According to these particular verses'the world' is operating on the idea that 'the friend of my enemyis my enemy'. It is made clear that the world hates Jesus and itwill therefore hate his servants and anyone else who alignsthemselves with him. And why does the world hate Jesus? Because itdoes not know God. It does not know the one who sentJesus.

These are not comforting verses. They were probably notcomforting for Jesus' disciples in the 1st century and they are notcomforting for Jesus' disciples today.


To Ponder

These verses present a very stark choice: loveJesus or hate him; love Jesus' followers or hate them. What is yourreaction to the very black and white choice that is presented?

How would you determine whether a particularreligion is being persecuted by its surrounding society?

What are some examples of persecution of aparticular religion that are occurring today in the world?

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