Flashback Episode — Choosing Opposition; Facing Rejection: John 15:18-16:4

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On the night Jesus was arrested, as He and His disciples were walking to the garden where He would pray, Jesus began telling the remaining eleven men what they could expect to face in the coming years, and He encouraged them that they would not be alone. Of all the four gospels, only John’s gospel shares in detail the message Jesus told the group of disciples.

Matthew, who was also there, for some reason did not include it in his gospel, and perhaps the reason for this was that Matthew was writing to a different group of people at a different point in the first century. It is likely that Matthew knew that either his audience did not need to hear Jesus’ last message to the disciples before His death, or that something in Jesus’ message would keep someone in Matthew’s audience from choosing Jesus.

While reading what John tells us Jesus said, it’s possible that the part of Jesus’ message we will be focusing on in this episode might be one reason Matthew may have left it out when writing to help people choose Jesus. Our passage is found in the gospel of John, chapter 15, and we will be reading from the New American Standard Bible translation. Beginning in verse 18, John tells us that Jesus told His disciples:

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave 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. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

Let’s pause reading here for a moment to draw our attention onto a really big idea. In this portion of Jesus’ last message, He points the disciples to a powerful idea that the more openly for Jesus that we live, the more opposition from the world we will face.

It is a strange paradox in that we could take the nicest individual, and place them doing one of the most noble acts we could imagine, let’s say saving starving children in Africa. If this is their mission, many people would rally behind it and there would be little to no opposition. But if this person adjusts their mission to include Jesus, while they still would have support, they would also attract hostility from others.

The more openly this nice individual uses Jesus as the reason for his compassion for these children, the more polarizing his ministry will be. Some opposition he might face would be people saying that he is trying to convert or brainwash the children he claims to help into believing what they believe to be the Christian lie. Others might say this nice individual is trying to earn his salvation through what he is doing.

While the actions of this individual never changed, the more openly for Jesus that one lives, the more opposition from the world the person will face.

However, while Jesus shares with us this warning, He also tells us that we are not alone. When we openly increase how we are living for Jesus and including Him in our lives, Jesus continues in verse 26 by promising us a Helper. Jesus tells the disciples:

26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

Jesus promised His disciples that a Helper would come from the Father, and that this Helper is also known as the Spirit of Truth. Jesus also says that the role of this Helper-Spirit is to testify about Him. God the Father, through the Holy Spirit – another name for this Helper-Spirit of Truth – will testify about the truth about Jesus. The Holy Spirit draws nearer to us the nearer we draw to Jesus – living for Him.

I wonder if at this point some of the disciples wondered why Jesus was sharing this with them. Jesus continues at the start of chapter 16 by saying:

16:1 “These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. 2 They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. 3 These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. 4 But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

In this passage, we have come full circle. We can see why Jesus shared this message with His followers on the night He was arrested, and we also have a reason why Matthew may have chosen to exclude this info from his gospel letter.

John includes this message from Jesus because he is writing to Christians, giving them a message of encouragement, and challenging them to grow their faith. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are written with the goal of sharing about Jesus with someone who might not yet know who He is.

This message from Jesus in John’s gospel emphasizes that for all of Jesus’ followers living through the centuries, trouble and opposition will come. There is no way around it because Satan opposes Jesus – and Satan is happy to give power, status, and fame to those who do anything to distract people away from who Jesus is and what Jesus would want from us and for us.

The promise Jesus shares is that when opposition comes, we are not alone – we have the Holy Spirit. We should also not be surprised when opposition comes because the leadership and system in place when Jesus walked the earth was opposed to Him. If the world opposed Jesus for living for God, it will oppose us for living for Jesus.

The choice we all get to make from Jesus’ message is whether we will choose Jesus and opposition in this life, with the promise of a new life with God in the next life, or will we reject or hide Jesus so that we will be accepted in this life and possibly give up the promised new life with God.

Living openly for Jesus is the key to living the Christian life. While the decision to put your faith, belief and trust in Jesus is a private matter, open Christian living is how you know your faith is certain. Facing opposition in this world is one test you can use to gauge whether you are on the right track.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I want to leave you with:

Be sure to decide whether you want to live for Jesus and face opposition in this life. While for some it isn’t an easy decision, it is the most logical decision anyone can make when looking from the perspective of eternity. After all, what are a few short years of opposition and rejection in the face of a dozen millennia of years with God? If you choose God and eternity, then be sure to seek Him first each day, and then openly live for Him in a practical, loving way.

Also, be sure to study the Bible for yourself so you can truly know what God is like. While living for God will be an incredible adventure in spite of the opposition, be sure that you are connecting with Him personally each day. A pastor or a podcaster can point you in a good direction, but only the Bible can teach you about how God has moved throughout history, how He doesn’t change, and how this makes Him trustworthy.

And, as I always end each set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short, chicken out of, or back away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 44: Cam discusses part of Jesus’ last message to His disciples on the night He was arrested. In this portion of Jesus’ message, He warns the disciples that they will face opposition, but that God will send them a Helper when they face trials.

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