John 15:20-27. Hatred

John 15:20 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.

Jesus now elaborates on the reality of being hated by the world. The hatred of the world is directed at Jesus first, but it must inevitably also fall on his disciples. In saying this, Jesus’ underlying assumptions about the nature of discipleship become apparent. To be his disciple (akin to a servant-master relationship) means that the identity and experience of the disciple is entirely defined by the master. To be Jesus’ disciple means that we die to our own life. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Jesus and for the gospel will save it (Mark 8:34-36). So joining oneself to Jesus as his disciple means both salvation and persecution. If they persecuted the Master, they will certainly persecute his servants.

Hatred for Jesus goes further than his disciples. It also means hatred for his Father. The union of the Father with the Son means that rejecting one means rejecting both; just as receiving one is receiving both. Although John’s gospel never uses the doctrinaire word, “Trinity”, Jesus’ teaching here assumes it entirely. He and his Father are one; just as also they send the Advocate/Spirit to continue their work. Any view of God that is less than trinitarian is sub-Christian. 

So the hatred of the world for Jesus encompasses all of the Godhead. By why does the world hate Jesus? As the Psalms foretold, ‘they hated him without reason.’ Several of the Psalms describe David’s plight of being betrayed and hated without cause (eg Ps 35:19; 69:4; 109:3), setting up a Messianic template. When David’s promised greater son arrives, it is logical that he would fill out this experience of injustice. And so Jesus does, all the way to the cross.

Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for your mercy and kindness towards me. Although I am completely undeserving, and though I have betrayed you time again– hating you without reason, you have graciously extended forgiveness to me. Please grant that I will be your faithful disciple to the very end, regardless of how the world treats me. Amen.