Read: John 15:18-27
Consider: Have you ever noticed that speaking of your faith in God and particularly of your trust in Jesus, can cause some people to react antagonistically towards you? While we speak gently and respectfully to them, speaking about and sharing the good news seems to ‘get their hackles up’. We shouldn’t be surprised that this happens. In today’s reading from John 15, Jesus speaks to his disciples about ‘hate’ in these words: If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first (John 15:18).
We should remind ourselves that Jesus spoke this way before he would go to Jerusalem, where he would be tried unjustly and crucified. Jerusalem would be the place where the full extent of the world’s hate for Jesus would be displayed. We must acknowledge that the Pharisees, Sadducees and the teachers of the law were plotting against Jesus for some time, seeking an excuse to kill him. So is he purely speaking about the hatred to which he was currently being subjected to, or is he also speaking about the growing hatred that would reach its climax in his crucifixion? It has to be both the present and the future hatred, not only focussed on himself but which would also be directed towards the disciples and all believers in the future. Jesus saw this hatred directed towards himself as fulfilling what is said in the Psalms: They hated me without reason (Psalm 35:19; 69:4).
Jesus moves on to speak to the disciples about the Holy Spirit; in today’s passage from the NIV he is referred to as the Advocate. The Greek word παράκλητος (paraklete) can be translated as advocate, counsellor, comforter, intercessor, consoler and helper. In John 14 Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in this way: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).
Many Christians concentrate upon two aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit: firstly, in prayer when we are lost for words and we cannot convey the depth of feeling involved in what we are praying for (Romans 8:26). Secondly, as the distributor of gifts to believers for the upbuilding of the church (1 Corinthians 12:4, 7). To do this, however, is to limit the Holy Spirit to these two spheres of influence. In John 14 the Holy Spirit is referred to as the ‘Spirit of truth’ (John 14:16-17), as the one who will teach us and remind us of Jesus’ words (14:26), elsewhere as the one who will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:7) and as the one who will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit also produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22) and he indwells us (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:19). There are many other references in the Bible concerning the work of the Holy Spirit, but I hope that the few references given above give you an idea of how wide the work of the Spirit is in our lives and in our world. I particularly like the way the work of the Holy Spirit is described by Jesus in John 16:12-15, as conveying to us what Jesus wishes to make known to us. If the Spirit speaks to us (16:13), we must be ready to listen. When we read the Bible we must listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, as he helps us to understand and apply what we are studying.
Pray: Father, we acknowledge that the world hates the message of Christianity and we see this in all aspects of our media. Give us courage in the face of this opposition and may we always speak the truth. May we be attentive to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. We pray also for the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting the world of sin and bringing people to repentance and faith in you. Amen