After sharing about abiding in Him, in His Word, in obedience, and in HIs love, the Lord Jesus, in these 13 verses, changed the subject to the hostility of the world towards Him, His Father and His followers (including all believers after the apostles). To abide in Him is to be prepared to be hated by the world – this is because we do not belong to the world but we belong to the Triune God and we are united with the Lord Jesus just like the branches are united with the Vine. The world does not know the Triune God, and the world loves its own; hence the world hates God and His followers who do not belong to the world.
In case we conclude that the world refers only to evil individuals who are consumed by the wickedness of the world, we must realise that hostility and persecution may come even from established religious institutions and establishments, from zealous followers of religious faith – we see how the Pharisees hated Jesus and sought to kill Him. The hostility and persecution may even be more intense from such quarters; the Lord Jesus stated that they hated Him without reason and this applies also to the Father and to all genuine believers. Thus we need not be surprised by this – the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:12 that believers should not be surprised at the fiery trial which comes upon them as if something strange is happening. He added that we ought to rejoice as we share Christ’s sufferings as we looked forward to His glory at His second coming. If the Master has to undergo such hostility and persecutions, we, as servants of His, cannot expect anything less.
In the same above passage, the Lord Jesus revealed that He disclosed this to His followers so that they may not fall when such times come about. Christians must understand that it is not so much the sufferings and hostility that we should fear but we should note the seriousness of apostasy during such times. When we encounter the distress and pain of being hated by various ones for no apparent reason except that we are believers, we might lose our trust and confidence in God; hence the Lord Jesus sought to prevent this by disclosing this truth beforehand. We can continue to experience His peace, boldness and joy in the face of such persecutions because Jesus is our supreme example and He, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, will not leave us alone to face the onslaught. He is always interceding for us, keeping us through HIs prayers and power through the Spirit.
We are told in Revelation 7:14 that intense pressure, violence and bitterness would come upon God’s people in the great tribulation. The letters to the 7 churches are filled with exhortation to be faithful, not to fear, but to know that God’s grace will be sufficient for such times and He would go through with us, for He has overcome the world and He did not flinch until it is all finished at the cross. Remember that it is costly to follow Jesus; we need to share this too with prospective believers so that the whole gospel is communicated. This will prevent spurious conversions. God will honour those who endure and persevere to the end and He would share His glory with such ones. This is His promise!