Tuesday 28 October 2014

Bible Book:

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.” (v. 18)

John 15:17-27 Tuesday 28 October 2014


Today the Church commemorates Saint Simon and Saint Jude. Theyare mentioned together at Luke6:15-16 at the end of the list of Jesus' disciples. There,Simon is described as a zealot, one of those who took up weaponsagainst Rome, fighting with zeal for the Lord's cause. Jude (socalled to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot) is mentioned at John14:22, asking questions of the Lord at the Last Supper.Christian tradition tells us that after Jesus' death they wenttogether as missionaries to Persia and were martyred there. The NewTestament also includes the Letter of Jude, which may or may not becorrectly associated with the disciple of this name.

Their's was a story of two obscure disciples of Jesus, whoselives reflect much of what this passage teaches us about theChristian life. They faced suffering, persecution and ultimatelydeath because of their commitment to the Lord, but they testifiedcourageously to Jesus' name.

In today's passage Jesus explains that there is a clearopposition between "the world" and himself. He uses the emotivelanguage of "hate" to express this opposition, and the twocontrasting behaviours it engenders. Either people keep the word oflove, or they reject it and persecute those who live by it. Thereis no middle way.

This either/or understanding is typical of the way Jesuspresents himself in this Gospel: either he is accepted as the Sonof God, or he is rejected. This explanation of people's behaviourgoes back to the Psalms. God hates those who do evil (Psalm31:6) and in return, they hate God (Psalm81:15). Jesus goes on to explain that hate for him goes fardeeper than personal dislike, because he is the embodiment of theFather (cf John 14:9). Jesus' 'works', signs such as theraising of Lazarus (John 11), challenge people to make that choice- and if their choice is sinful, they now have no excuse (cf John9:41).

A society split in two, then, by people's response to Jesus; butGod's gift of the Holy Spirit resources God's people in standingfor the right (verse 26). They are held together through the lovingSpirit of God in resisting the hatred which 'the world' feels forthem (1 John 3:11-14). 

To Ponder

  • In light of this absolute opposition between Jesus and theworld, how do we make sense of modern views that human cultures canbe the place where Christ makes himself known?
  • Have you, or a church you belong to, ever experienced hostilityfrom those around you who don't share your faith? If so, whatenabled you to cope with this?
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