Hated, John 15:18-16:4, 23 June 2013

Big Idea: The world will hate true followers of Jesus, but He is with us.


As we continue our series on the Gospel of John, Jesus continues His farewell address to His eleven disciples prior to the crucifixion. Today’s text is especially sobering, especially in our USAmerican culture that values safety, comfort, pleasure, and popularity. I honestly wish passages such as this were not included, yet they are God’s Word and a vital reminder to us about the realities of following Jesus.

Jesus said

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 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. (18-19)

Do you like to be liked? We all love to be surrounded by friends, family and fans that love us.

Do you like to be criticized or even hated? It’s a silly question.

A child of God cannot be popular with the world.

I’ve heard of some Christians that act like jerks to people and blame Jesus, saying that they are martyrs for their faith. Jesus is not saying we’ll be hated because
we offend people. He said we are not of this world and, therefore, as children of God, we serve Him and not the world.

There are two extremes that are dangerous. The first is syncretism. This is when we look and act just like everyone else. If we do not reflect the light of Christ in the darkness, we are just as dark as our surroundings.

The other extreme is separatism. This is when we avoid the world, separating ourselves, ignoring the darkness and keeping the light to ourselves.

We are called to participate in the
missio dei, the mission of God. We are called to be light in the darkness. The darkness hates light, but some will be drawn to it.

Virtually everything Jesus said and did was revolutionary and radical. He said the first will be last. He said to save your life you must lose it. He said to serve rather than be served.

Expect to be hated in the process.


I believe one of the most important things in life is expectations. It is one of the secrets to peace and contentment. Let me explain.

When I do pre-marital counseling with couples, I confront two very different, broken human beings, each with a lifetime of experiences and baggage. That may not sound pleasant, but that’s reality. Often, people enter a marriage expecting the other to meet their needs and, as one actress famously said, “complete.” Needless to say, the expectations are frequently unrealistic.

On the other hand, I remember one couple that asked me to marry them. I knew them both and the extensive challenges each had, yet when we discussed their expectations, I was overjoyed to learn they were modest and honest. Because they entered marriage knowing they would face many difficulties, it’s not surprise to me that many years later they are among the most happily married couples I know.

Jesus did not want to paint a fantasy picture for His followers, past and present. Throughout His ministry, He “raised the bar,” challenged people, told them to count the cost, and even watched many turn away, unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to be His disciple.

When Jesus said Christians would be hated, He meant it. He didn’t say following Him would make us happy. He didn’t promise “best life now.” He never promised us a rose garden, a castle, or a Mercedes. Contrary to the message of a whole movement of so-called Christianity, it’s not about us. Jesus said it’s about His glory. He would die, and we would, too.

In this passage, Jesus contrasts following the world versus following Him. Like a man with one foot on a pier and the other on a boat about to drift away, we must make a choice. We can’t have it both ways.

Are you a follower of the world or a follower of Jesus?

We all know the right answer on Sunday morning, but tomorrow is the test. Will you go into debt like everyone else or save and give generously? Will you join the water cooler gossip or be a champion for the underdog and outcast? Will you tell that so-called “little white lie” or tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Will you fill your mind with the Word of God and devote yourselves to prayer or allow yourself to be entertained by the TV and Facebook?

Are you a follower of the world or a follower of Jesus?

Every day we answer this question with our checkbook and calendar.

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. (20-22)

He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ (23-25)

Jesus is the light. The darkness hates the light.

At this moment, 50,000-70,000 of our brothers and sisters are facing hard labor and tortured in North Korea…for their faith. (

That is just one of more than 50 nations where Christians are actively persecuted for their faith.

We must not be surprised when Jesus warned us more than 2000 years ago that this was inevitable, yet there are ways we can help, too. Visit persecution.com for details.

“When the Counselor 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. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

The Holy Spirit is predicted yet again.

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit by confessing our sins and inviting Him into our lives, the presence of God Almighty lives in us. We are never alone. He is with us.

“All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.


This text seems distant to us, yet at this moment many of our spiritual siblings are reading this very text from prison, perhaps from a smuggled Bible. There are a few things we can do in response:

  1. Thank God for the freedoms we enjoy. They can be removed.
  2. Pray for the persecuted. Persecuted.com is a great place for resources. See below for other ways to get involved.
  3. Reflect upon your own life. If it became illegal to follow Jesus in this country, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Are you a follower of the world or a follower of Jesus?

Next Steps

http://www.prisoneralert.com/  This website is where people can choose a country/person, etc. of their choice and the website will populate a letter with up to 12 pre-selected phrases and translate them into the prisoner’s native tongue. Once complete, you print the letters and addresses. Some cases it is sent direct to the prisoner, and in others it is sent to the embassy or elected officials. . . you can track the number of letters receive updates on who has been released.
http://www.biblesunbound.com This website allows you to select a country or region of the world and send Bibles to those who have requested them. If it’s an open country, you will be sent a list of people who will receive your Bibles, so that you can pray for them as they receive and read them. And, near and dear to my heart, are the covert operations. You don’t get a list of names, but you assist in getting New Testaments into the hands of those behind closed or hostile areas (like Burma). These Bibles are delivered by courageous people who take these Bibles in at great risk. There is a map with little crosses to show you where your Bibles have been sent.
http://www.persecution.com, under Give, is the opportunity to send funds specifically to the families of those who have been imprisoned for their faith and are no longer able to support their families. They also have a PSP program – which is similar to Compassion in sponsorship. In this instance, it’s a Christian worker in a persecuted country, that receives support to fund outreach and service to fellow Christians and non-believers.  http://www.persecution.com/psp this page has detailed information on what criteria is used to determine eligibility to receive support through this program.

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The Vine & The Branches, John 15:1-17, 2 June 2013

Big Idea: We must remain in Christ, even when we are being pruned.


As we continue our series on the Gospel of John, Jesus continues His farewell address to His eleven disciples. They were in the Upper Room together before Jesus said, “Come now, let us leave” (14:31).

Now they are probably between the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane. John 15 and 16 are likely describing their conversation during their walk.


Jesus may have walked by the gates of the temple. The gates were gold and woven with vines that stood for the nation of Israel.

There are several instances when vines are mentioned in the Old Testament as a symbol of Israel. In each, however, Israel was lacking somehow.

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. (Psalm 80:8-9)

I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. (Isaiah 5:1-7)

I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine? (Jeremiah 2:21)

Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones. (Hosea 10:1)

Jesus is going to talk about the vine, an image of the nation of Israel. Notice what He says.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (15:1)

Jesus is not just any vine but the true vine. It’s easy for us to see this as merely a gardening metaphor but its symbolism is even more rich. If the vine is Israel and He is the true vine, He’s making a very bold statement.

True can be the opposite of false or the opposite of a counterfeit. Jesus is saying, “I’m the genuine vine.” Religion is not enough. Ceremonies and church attendance and giving to the poor is not enough. We need to identify with Jesus.

We must be joined to Jesus, the vine, in order to bear fruit.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (2-4)

“In” when it precedes Jesus refers to being in Christ, trust Him as both Savior and LORD. This passage is about believers.

Every unfruitful branch is cut off. Ouch!

He prunes/purges/cuts or washes it. The Word of God is a cleansing power.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (5-8)

The Parable of the Sower describes planting and harvesting.

What is fruit? The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

J. Vernon McGee said the fruit is

Prayer effectual (8)
Fruit perpetual (8)
Joy celestial (11)

How does God remove the branch? He takes them from the place of bearing fruit. They’re no longer effective in their ministry or they die (Ananias and Sapphira are an example).

Purge or pruning actually means “to cleanse” in the Greek. They used water to wash the vine from bugs and debris.

Pruning can be painful but it’s done to promote growth. We rarely grow through success, health, and happiness. Our greatest growth comes in the midst of defeat, loss, and suffering. A popular TV show years ago was called “Growing Pains.” No pain, no gain.

Pruning is not a sign that God is against us but that He loves us, He wants the best for us. As difficult as it is, we need to embrace pain.

The closer we get to the LORD, we less pain we feel. If you are ever in a fight, step toward the person.

Several years ago around New Year’s Day I was driving I-75 from Florida to Michigan. It’s a long drive, nearly 24 hours, and with everyone else in the vehicle sleeping I took some time to prayer, seeking God, His voice, and direction. I still remember five distinct words, not audible but clear: the tree will be pruned. I immediately knew He was speaking of the church where I was a pastor. It was a powerful, prophetic word that guided me throughout that year. We saw people leave our church, the numbers decreased, but the church became more healthy and strong.

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes God wants to clear out the baggage in our lives in order for us to produce more fruit—love, obedience and faithfulness in our lives.

Speaking of love, now we come to some love verses. Don’t mistaken these for greeting card sentiment. Jesus is going to tell us what love really is.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (9-11)

He again connects love and obedience.

He also mentions joy, part of the fruit of the Spirit.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. (12-17)

We can’t…unless we are connected to the Vine.


I have one simple question: are you connected to the true Vine?

The metaphor is clear: if we’re disconnected, we die.

There are many good things in our world that will give you inspiration and energy, but connecting a branch to a can of Coke or an electric socket or an iPhone or even the Bible won’t allow it to grow. The only way a branch can grow is if it is connected to a living, breathing vine, in this case Jesus Christ.

I want to conclude with some thoughts from A.W. Tozer’s class book
The Pursuit of God. Notice what he says about knowing Jesus Christ.

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives…Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for the dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold "right opinions," probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the "program." This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.…The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word. We have almost forgotten that God is a Person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can.
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, quoted in Intuitive Leadership by Tim Keel (p. 125)
How is your relationship with Jesus? Living things grow. Remain in Him!

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