As impossible as it may seem, people hate Jesus.
It wasn’t “those people back then” who hated Him; people still do. This is seen in the media, in the arts, and in routine conversation. The name of no other founder of any religion is used as a curse. Who hates Jesus today?
- People who love the things of this world hate Jesus because He is calling them to a higher one.
- People who are in love with themselves hate Jesus because He is calling them to a love centered in others and in God.
- People who seek power hate Jesus because He has the power.
- People who are haughty hate Jesus because He is humble in the face of His majesty.
- People who crave sin hate Jesus because He reveals sin to be a destructive force.
- People who are evil hate Jesus because He is good.
- People who are bound hate Jesus because He is free and offers freedom to all.
Make no mistake; those who hate Jesus do so with a passion and violence often meted out on those who follow Him. This is not paranoia—it is fact.
Facing the Hate
Jesus warned His men that night: there was only one way to overcome hate. They would have to learn to love those who hated them, just as they saw Jesus doing.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”
Hate is often hidden beneath the surface. People who choose not to believe in Jesus will report that they do not hate Him, they just don’t believe His story. This kinder, gentler hate is still hate. To hear about His incarnation, leaving heaven’s throne to inhabit the squalor of a stable, and refusing to believe it is a politically correct dismissal of God Himself and bears the same terrible consequences of outright hostility. To know about the cross of Christ and His suffering for our sins and to turn away from Him, is to identify with the soldiers who drove the nails into His hands. To spurn such love so freely offered is a cruel rejection that condemns the offender.
To Follow Christ
Paul speaks of knowing Christ in “the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.” With the peace of Christ vibrating in our hearts, we are privileged to participate in the sufferings of Christ. When others sin, we are often called upon to endure the consequences of their wrong-doing. This injustice is a point of fellowship with Jesus. He suffered for the sins of others and sometimes we do as well. The pain is real but deeper than the suffering there is a peace born in the privilege of sharing, not just the joy of victory, but the cost of it.
Today and throughout history, the degree of persecution for Christ-followers varies greatly from place to place. To whatever degree we are delivered to persecution, it will happen to all who take up their cross to follow Jesus. Two things comfort us:
- The persecution is not permanent; it will come to an end with a crown of glory on the other side.
- The Lord is with us through the trial.
Meanwhile the disciples were in good company!
“… now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.”
What is the answer? To love others as Christ has loved us, even those who hate us. We overcome evil with good.
“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 of 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. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
Philippians 3:7-11 NKJV
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Romans 12:17-21 NKJV
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Lord Jesus, You are love! You deal with me through Your love for me. Help me love others in the same way. When I am incapable of this, take over Lord, and love people through me. Help me overcome evil with good. Remind me to pray for those who persecute me, just as You commanded. Help me to live the Jesus life in my world today, loving when hated, being kind in the face of cruelty, exercising faith in the face of cynicism, showing truth like a light shining in the darkness of the world’s continual deception, and spreading hope to a world desperate for it. All in Your name, Your Power, and for Your glory! Amen.
People Need the Lord
Words and Music: Greg Nelson
1. Every day they pass me by. I can see it in their eyes.
Empty people filled with care, Headed who knows where?
On they go through private pain Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries. Only Jesus hears.
People need the Lord. People need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams He’s the open door.
People need the Lord. People need the Lord.
When will we realize People need the Lord?
2. We are called to take His light To a world where wrong seems right
What could be too great a cost For sharing life with one who’s lost?
Through His love our hearts can feel All the grief they bear
They must hear the words of life Only we can share.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.