First Sunday in Lent – Thursday
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. – John 15:18.
The disciples of Jesus enjoy the love which loves Jesus, and must endure the hate which hates Him; they are loved by their fellow disciples and hated by the unbelieving world. In the latter instance, they must note the word of Jesus: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
If we disciples of Jesus still “were of the world, the world would love” us as its own, but because we “are not of the world,” but our Lord Jesus has “chosen [us] out of the world” (v. 19) and has made us His disciples, therefore the world hates us, as it hated Jesus. We must remember the word that Jesus said to His disciples on a former occasion: “The servant is not greater than his lord” (v. 20a). If they have persecuted Jesus, they will also persecute us; and in the same way in which they accepted His Word, just so will they accept ours also (v. 20b). Just for the sake of the name and Word of Jesus, the world hates us; it is their own fault that they do not know God, who sent Jesus (v. 21).
True, if the world, which in its unbelief, hates Jesus, had not heard His Word, this guilt would not rest upon it, but now it has no excuse for its sin (v. 22). What sin? The sin of hating Jesus and His Word. Unbelief is the true and great sin because it leads to all other ungodly decisions. He that hates Jesus hates God the Father, who manifests Himself in Jesus (vv. 23-24). Thus the prophecy of the Son of God is fulfilled: “They hated Me without a cause” (v. 25). Who is it that really testifies of Jesus? It is “the Comforter,” whom Jesus has sent us from the Father, “even the Spirit of Truth,” that proceeds from the Father (v. 26). And we Christians also “bear witness” of Jesus from the Word, which the Holy Spirit has written down through the prophets and apostles, and which He has written upon our hearts (v. 27). And what are the consequences? The true witnesses of Jesus are cast out by the unbelieving world, even by that part which decks itself with Jesus’ name and calls itself the church of God (16:2a). Indeed, there have been times, and they may return, that whosoever kills the witnesses of Jesus thinks that he does God a “service” (v. 2b). Let no disciple of Jesus be “offended” thereat (v. 1). Jesus has foretold it (v. 4a); we are to willingly bear it. The unbelieving world, both in secular and spiritual garb, knows not, nor does it want to know, either the Father, or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore it hates the disciples and witnesses of Jesus. The hatred which the world bears us because of Jesus’ name is testimony to the fact that we belong to Jesus and to His vicarious atonement, and that His Spirit, working through His Word, graciously rests upon us.
PRAYER – O Lord, almighty Son of God, who truly cares for Thy children with a loving father’s care, and knows beforehand all things that will befall Thy Church, and the faithful witnesses of the Truth in particular, we give thanks to Thee that Thou dost forewarn us of this, and insure us against offense. I pray Thee, graciously comfort me with the knowledge that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, working through Thy Word, will help me to more fearlessly confess Thy truth, suffer more gladly for its sake, remain more true to Thee and to Thy Word, and, both in success and adversity, grow in praising and magnifying Thee. Amen.
Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my All shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known;
yet how rich is my condition; God and heaven are still my own.
Let the world despise and leave me; they have left my Savior, too;
human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue;
and while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might;
foes may hate and friends may shun me; show Thy face, and all is bright.
(Hymn 423, st. 1-2; TLH)