18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 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. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
As hard as it is to imagine at times, the world hates Jesus. It hates the real Jesus. A Jesus of their own creation, one who makes no claims to truth, no claims to kingship, no claims on our lives, He isn’t a problem. But the real Jesus, the truth, the King, the one who claims us as His own and purchased us with His own blood, we belong to Him. As it has been said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!” The Christian loves this glorious reality of our Sovereign Christ. But the world hates it.
And if the world hates Jesus, Jesus says in our text that it’s likely the world will hate you if you follow Jesus. And to boot, Jesus goes as far to say that He chose us out of the world, and therefore, the world hates you. In other words, I chose you for this! It is a gift to suffer for Jesus like the apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:29, “For it has been granted (same word for gift) to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake…” As we learned before Jesus chose His own to bear fruit in loving prayer for one another. Here we learn that Jesus chose His own to be hated by the world.
Why does the world hate Jesus and His followers? Jesus answers in verse 21, “All these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” They don’t know God, that’s why they hate Christ and Christians. Notice it doesn’t say they don’t know about God, or things about God, but they don’t know Him. There is no real knowing God in a saving relationship with Him. It they did, they would love Him and love His people.
So Christian, we should not be surprised when the world hates Christ and hates Christians. Jesus said it to prepare us. The persecuted church knows this intimately and is not surprised. Folks are stuck in their hostility to God and His Word (Romans 8:7). The only real antidote to such hate is only a right knowledge of God and His Son. This is what Jesus calls eternal life in John 17:3, “this is eternal life, to know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.” God must open the heart and give repentance so that a person can let go of their hatred of God. This is why Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:24–26,
"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."
Let’s pray that God would replace hate of Himself and People with a true knowledge of Himself. Pray for new hearts, eyes that see the glory of Christ, and ears to hear His Word. Pray, that we would see, even in the midst of a pandemic, a great turning of people from hate to know God and Christ! But Christian, don’t be surprised when they hate, be prepared to love with prayer.