As Jesus looked around at the eleven disciples remaining with Him in the upper room that last Passover night together, He had just told them that, just as the world had hated Him and His Father, so the world would hate them.
“I have told you these things, so that you won’t abandon your faith,” He continued. “For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. This is because they have never known the Father or Me. Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember My warning.” John 16:1-4 NLT
I find a deep comfort in these words of Jesus. He knows that those of us who follow Him will face deep trials of our faith; and perhaps no trials will be so hard as the ones we endure at the hands of others who claim to be following God themselves.
Persecution, the cutting off of fellowship, even the killing of the saints– Jesus knows that these trials are so severe that many will question their faith when faced with these situations. Yet so deep is His love and compassion, that, hours before He Himself endured the most horrible torture and death at the hands of these people, He warned His followers that they would face these trials. “Don’t abandon your faith!” He told them. “Remember, I told you these things would happen. But I am not leaving you alone to face them; when I am gone, I will send the Comforter to you.” (The rich Greek word used here to describe the Holy Spirit can be translated “Advocate” or “Encourager” or “Counselor” as well as “Comforter”.)
The enemy loves to blame these trials on Jesus, as if He is responsible for them. What a lie that is! The world’s hatred for God was there, long before Jesus invaded, the Love of God in human form. But the Love of God has conquered already, and will conquer for all eternity.