It is Thursday evening, and the crucifixion will happen on Friday. Jesus is meeting with his disciples in the last meal, and in it, giving them instructions and assurances, and again predicting his death. Much of this did not register with the disciples, as indicated by their responses upon his arrest and desertion after the sham trial. But Jesus has some final lessons for his disciples, which will shape them and the early church after his resurrection and departure to heaven. He has warned of Judas’ betrayal, and Peter’s impending denials. The predicted betrayal by Judas has put the disciples into a spin, and from that context comes a warning and a promise.
“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. 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. John 15:18-19…26-27.
- The Opposition of Those Who Have Rejected Christ. The first step in a spiritual pilgrimage is to identify the opposition – the counterfeit – the broad path that leads not to life, but to destruction. Here the opposition – the adversary – is the world. This is defined not as a physical world or the earth, but the system and belief and values that hate the message of Christ, that know the Truth but reject it. And the disciples should expect that, as they follow Jesus, the world will hate and reject them as they have their Master. A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.
- The Mission for Followers of Jesus. The second and continuing pilgrimage step is not what we are avoiding, but what and who we are following. And we are not without resources. Jesus has promised that the Spirit of God, who has been WITH them, will after his resurrection, be IN them. So the task is the new command: To love one another. That is how [others] will know that we are disciples of Christ.
“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:15-18.
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17.
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8.
This, then, is the spiritual life. Understanding and resisting the allure of the opposition, committing ourselves to the mission of loving God and loving others rather than ourselves, by the power of the Spirit of God, and looking to Him who is Lord of all. When the Counselor comes…the Spirit of Truth…He will testify…and you must also testify. More instruction about the Holy Spirit next week. Best to you this week.