John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
Hours before the murder of Jesus Christ, following the departure of His betrayer Judas, Jesus gives final instruction to His disciples. He starts with an encouraging word that they will abide in Him and He will abide in them as a loving friend to glorify God and have joy as their prayers are answered and lives become fruitful. His tone then changes to a somber one as He promises that the world (the system of belief and behavior contrary to the Kingdom) will hate His followers as they have hated Him, providing they obey His commands. Therefore, as the people of God simply live according to the Scriptures out of love for God they will be hated simply because their lives are a condemnation on the patterns and wisdom of this world. Christians, therefore, should not be surprised if they are met with hostile opposition, because it is ultimately a rejection of God the Father and the Lord Jesus.
History (mostly outside of the Bible) reveals to us how those who heard Jesus’ words found them to be prophetic about their pain.
Stephen preached the gospel and prayed for the salvation of his murderers that included Saul (whose name was later changed to Paul) with his final breath as he was being stoned (Acts 6:8-8:4). It is estimated that 2,000 other Christians died shortly after this first martyr in the early church.
Philip was whipped, imprisoned, and crucified.
Matthew (author of the gospel bearing his name) was murdered with a long-handled axe that included a sword.
James (author of the epistle bearing his name) died at age 94 when he was beaten, stoned, and his brains were beaten out with a club.
Matthias, after replacing Judas as the twelfth disciple, was stoned and beheaded.
Mark (author of the gospel bearing his name) was torn to pieces by a mob.
Jude was crucified.
Bartholomew was beaten, crucified, and then beheaded.
Thomas was run through with a spear.
Luke (author of the gospel bearing his name and Acts) was hanged.
Simon was crucified.
Andrew (Peter’s brother) was crucified but did not die for two days, so he preached to those who gathered beneath him about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Peter (author of the epistles bearing his name) was crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die like Jesus.
James was John’s older brother who preached the gospel to the governor Herod Agrippa moments before he was to be murdered. Herod converted from the gospel that James preached and both men were then beheaded.
John (the author of the gospel and epistles bearing his name and Revelation) was boiled in oil but miraculously did not die, was then sent into exile on the island of Patmos where he wrote Revelation after being visited by Jesus, was later recalled from exile and lived to be 100 years of age, and was the only disciple of Jesus to not be martyred.
When persecution comes, in whatever form it takes, are you willing to endure it for Jesus and like Jesus?