Following Jesus Will Cost You!

Beheading

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet, because you are not of the world, but I chose you out o the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:18-20)

Is this verse a warning given to those who will become followers of Christ? The answer to that question is a definite–yes! Confirmation that you are a follower of Jesus Christ is that you are despised for His Name.

 The God of the Bible is unique and separate from the plethora of false gods worshiped by the world.

Satan, who dominates the evil world system, is identified in scripture as the “prince of the air” and “god of this age” and it is he who instigates the hatred towards Jesus Christ, and His followers. The One True God, Yahweh or YHVH (tetragram) is the object of Lucifer’s abhorrence and detestation.

JEHOVAH is separate from all other false gods because His Name denotes the eternality, immutability, and uniqueness of His nature. He is also Judge and Lawgiver Who has hatred (Psalm 5:5), Enmity (Nahum 1:2), and Vengeance (Deut 7:9-10; 32:39-42) towards the sinner every day. These same attributes and identification of YHVH was applied by the Lord Jesus Christ to Himself in chapter eight of the gospel of John as confirmation of His deity. Therefore, hatred or rejection of One was in fact denunciation of Both.

“He who hates Me hates My Father also” (John 15:23)

Mere association with Jesus or the God of the Bible sparks anger and hostility towards (by the world) those who represent Him. Why is there such antagonism and resentment towards true believers or followers of Christ? Jesus tells us that because of His coming the world has no excuse for their sins and that He testifies that its deeds are evil. Christ followers who demonstrate intimacy, love, obedience and fruitfulness will invoke a similar response from the world. Men and women who reject Jesus Christ (as Savior) do so by choice, not out of ignorance.

Paul Washer writes in his book titled The Truth About Man, that “Man is not a victim, but a culprit. He cannot, because he will not. His corruption and enmity toward God are so great that he would rather suffer eternal perdition than acknowledge God to be God and submit to His Sovereignty. For this reason, moral inability may also be called willing hostility.” (Washer, pg. 55)

In his book, Washer uses the relationship between Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37:4) as an illustration of moral inability. He writes, “Joseph’s brothers could not speak to him on friendly terms. It is not because they lacked the physical ability to speak, but because their hatred was so great toward him that they were unwilling to be friendly to him. In the same way, fallen man’s hostility toward God is so great he cannot bring himself to submit to God.” (Washer, pg. 56)

A similar example is revealed in the relationship or interaction between Jesus and Judas as recorded in the gospel of John. Judas having been selected by Christ to be His disciple was specifically chosen because God knew that he (Judas) would be the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.  “…and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12) Judas loved the present world and would benefit monetarily by betraying or benefits, deliberately offering Jesus to him by the chief priest for thirty pieces of silver. Notwithstanding, Jesus offered to Judas (the same night) the opportunity to confess, plus, repent of his disloyalty and to become a recipient of His forgiveness. His final act of love towards Judas is demonstrated in the passing of ‘sop’ to Judas during the last supper. “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it…”(John 13:26) According to Jewish tradition, the host (Jesus) would designate the first morsel of food to the special guest as a way of symbolizing friendship. Similar to Joseph’s brothers, Judas was unwilling to turn from his (satanically inspired) plot against Jesus which would eventually lead to both his physical and eternal death.

Disdain towards Jesus and Joseph can best be attributed to the depraved nature of the human heart. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murder…” (Matt 15:18) Men in rebellion against God abhor being confronted about their iniquities or transgressions. Jesus, having completed or accomplished the work the Father called Him to do would soon return to His original position glory. The responsibility of reaching the world with the “Good News” was delegated to His followers in the manner known as the Great Commission. “…I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world…As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

As servants of Christ, each believer will or should expect to experience similar circumstances to those endured by our Master during His earthly ministry. The ‘world’ (kosmos) refers to the created moral order in active rebellion against God and His followers. The Words of Christ, when spoken against the captives of this world system, bring opposition, hatred, suffering, and in some cases even death. Jesus clearly warns (verse above) all who believe in Him that they too will undergo persecution.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for yo to follow in His steps.” (I Pet 2:21)

D.A. Carson summarizes this point well in his book titled The Gospel According To JohnHe warns, “Those who preach Jesus’ gospel and live in progressive conformity to His own life and teaching will attract the same antagonism that He did.” (Carson, pg. 525)

Do the Words of Christ coincide with the mindset or approach to ministry by today’s church leaders? Stay tuned for part two of this message.

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The Great Privilege of Being Part of the Great Commission (First Baptist Church Powell)