18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
(John 15:18-27 NIV)
Jesus has instructed His disciples to remain in Him just as branches must remain attached to the vine to survive, to grow, to thrive, and bear fruit. Jesus also instructed His disciples to continue in His love, just as Jesus remained in His Father’s love. His command was clear: to love one another as He loved them.
In today’s passage, Jesus changes tone again and warns them of the impending storm of hatred that would soon completely engulf Him. Jesus informs His disciples that the fury of hatred would, by their association with Him, impact them as well.
Jesus does not want His disciples to be surprised by the change in public opinion. Less than a week has gone by since the crowds were welcoming Jesus with palm branches and shouting “Hosanna” to Him. Now, in just a few hours, the same crowd will be screaming for His death.
In verse 20, Jesus reminds His disciples (and us) that “a servant is not greater than his master”. If the world hates Jesus, then they will hate us as well, because of our association with Him.
In verse 25, Jesus quotes Psalm 35:19 when He says, “they hated me without reason.” The world hated (and still hates) the Father first, and Jesus because of His relationship to the Father, and now us, because of our association with Him.
In verse 26, Jesus briefly reminds us of His Comforter (Advocate – the Holy Spirit) whom He will send after He leaves, to testify about Jesus. Jesus knows that His disciples’ hearts are troubled and struggling right now – they can’t bear too much more of this bad news and unanswered questions that are swirling around in their heads and hearts.
Jesus ends this part of His last-minute instructions by reminding His disciples that just as the Holy Spirit will testify (be an advocate for) Him, so they will be called to testify on behalf of Him as well.
As followers of Christ, we are called to be and to do the same as Jesus’ disciples – to be His witnesses to all the world.
May we never forget that this life is a battle – a battle for our hearts and minds first and foremost. By remaining in Christ, and in His love, we have the power testify to Christ’s goodness, righteousness, and love. And we can bear witness to Christ’s love and salvation for us through our attitudes and our actions as we love one another just as Christ has loved us.
For those who follow Christ, this life is the worst that we will ever know. For those who don’t follow Christ, this life is that best they will ever experience.
In either case, Eternity awaits.