In this passage, we are in the early hours before the crucifixion. Betrayal, arrest, whipping, and crucifixion awaits Jesus, and He knows it. But he mustn’t fixate on the tidal wave of agony that is about to break up on Him; instead, he focuses on preparing His disciples for the battle ahead.
As American Christians with sizable religious freedoms, we often read past verses like this rather quickly. But you know who doesn’t read past them? The vast majority of our brothers and sisters around the world and throughout history. And who knows? Those of us in America may just need these words sooner than we realize. Perhaps Jesus is preparing us for battle too.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for the suffering, persecution, and hostility they will face in this world. Because followers of Jesus are not like the world, the world views us with suspicion. Because we’re different, we’re distinct.
We’ll look at three points to prepare us for what’s coming:
- Distinct Allegiance: Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit and bear Christ’s presence in the world have a polarizing effect of both attraction and repulsion. Jesus’ followers shouldn’t be shocked when they experience the same hatred their Leader did. Why does the world hate us? Because this world is not our true home; Jesus has chosen us out of the world. In other words, we’re citizens of Heaven. We follow the way of Jesus and His Kingdom. Jesus is telling us that we will encounter hostility from the world, because we bear the name of Jesus in the world, not because we’re obnoxious. If we’re encountering hostility because we’re winsomely shining the light of Christ to the world, that’s to be expected. But if we’re encountering hostility because we’re tactless and obnoxious, that is nothing to be proud of.
- Distinct Witness: We embody the convicting presence of God. When we go out into the world… we never go alone. We bear the presence of God into the world, and wherever God goes, people are convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment. It’s not our job to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment; the Holy Spirit does that. Our job is to share the good news that Jesus died for our sin, that He offers us his righteousness, and that He has already won the judgment and his victory can be ours if we will believe in Him.
- Distinct Bearing: We suffer in the glorious strength of the Spirit. All that the Father has is Jesus’, and all that is Jesus’ is ours through the Spirit. And here’s what’s amazing: it was Jesus’ Hour of suffering that most convicted the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment; and it will be our tour of suffering that convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment as well. As we suffer in the glorious strength of the Spirit, we embody the convicting presence of God in the world and proclaim our ultimate allegiance to the way Jesus and his Kingdom. Our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world tell us that a suffering church is an unstoppable church. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Persecution breeds perseverance, hostility unleashes holiness, and crucifixion is the only way to resurrection.
What if suffering like Jesus grants us access to the depths of all that God is for us?
What if suffering like Jesus is our greatest witness to the world?
Takeaway: Stand strong in the Lord.
As we suffer in the glorious strength of the Spirit, we embody the convicting presence of God in the world and proclaim our ultimate allegiance to the way Jesus and his Kingdom.