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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

“God is Love”

John 15:18-27

Why does the world hate Christ?  Christ is God’s love for the world (I John 4:10).  Where does this hatred come from and why does it exist?  Jesus here appears to be speaking of the world’s system, what the devil calls “the world and its splendor” (Matt. 4:8).  The world that will crucify Jesus is a combination of Roman power and religious intolerance.  The Roman soldiers mock Jesus, spit on him and beat him (Matt. 27:27-31; Luke 22:63-65).

Jesus confronts the world with its injustice and intolerance.  Jesus’ comments on “the world” of his time is echoed in the work of Roman contemporary historians.  They chronicled the depravity of the Roman Empire in the first century.  Jesus also condemns the toxic religion of his time which was both exploitative and abusive.  Jesus spoke forcefully against the religious leaders who said long prayers and devoured widows’ homes (Mark 12:40).

Jesus’ comments on the world here are not directed at the world in the sense of total humanity. This is the world that God loves and that Christ comes to save (John 3:16-17).  The world here is used in the sense of the world’s system, its structure and its values.  Jesus is a threat politically to that world.  We see this right from his birth when Herod orders the death of the children in Bethlehem.  The world of Jesus’ time made no distinction between the religious and the political.  They were tied together.  Jesus’ cleansing of the temple is an overtly political as well as religious act.  Following that the chief priest and the scribes who were both religious and political authorities make plans to kill Jesus because they are afraid of him (Mark 11:18).  Jewish law was under the authority of Rome, hence the cry at Jesus’ trial, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15) (The oft repeated phrase “My kingdom is not of this world” is not a retreat from the world.  What Jesus more accurately is saying is that his kingdom does not come from this world (John 18:36).

We should not be surprised when our Christian testimony brings us into conflict with the world.  We are the servants of Jesus.  If he was rejected we will also be rejected.  We should not fear this outcome.  We have the promise of the Holy Spirit who leads us and guides us in our testimony.

Eternal and loving God, may I not be intimidated by the world.  Enable me to be your clear and compelling witness in the world with its many distortions and illusions.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.