The Comforter For You, Because Haters Are Gonna Hate

Text: John 15:26-16:4

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

It is actually very troubling to read the later parts of the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John.  Over six different times, we hear Jesus mention the word, “Hate.” 

If the world ‘hates’ you, be aware that it ‘hated’ me before it ‘hated you.’

…therefore the world ‘hates’ you.

Whoever ‘hates’ me, ‘hates’ my Father. 

Yes, we hear the word ‘hate’ some six times in chapter 15 of John’s Gospel.  And here is what is interesting.  It is not the Christian or Jesus that is doing the ‘hating,’ but it is the world. 

Now, this may be very difficult for us to wrap our minds around since we hear on a daily basis that Christians are a bunch of ‘haters’ for standing upon conviction and principle, but Jesus points out that it is the other way around.  That isn’t to say that Christians are innocent and never hate – breaking the fifth commandment.  We Christians certainly do hate our neighbor when we fail to be merciful and kind and forgiving to them.  We should indeed help and support our neighbor in every physical need that they have and be quick to confess our sin when the root of hate grabs hold of our hearts and when we wish them harm.  

As for the world, though, Jesus says that the world indeed ‘hates.’  It hates Jesus and His followers. This is its natural disposition. Contrary to all the slogans of love and acceptance and tolerance and unity and coexistence, the world plainly and simply hates Christ. 

We hear in the New Testament that the world hated Jesus and His disciples.  And we must not delude ourselves into thinking that the world is grateful for the Gospel, but be ready and aware of this harsh fact that the world hates the message of Christianity. 

My friends, we do not live in a world that is friendly toward, or even tolerant of, Jesus and the Truth of His Word.  All we have to do is consider the crucifixion of Jesus to realize that the world hated “without a cause.  While Jesus was on earth, His enemies constantly hated Him without a cause.”[1]  The hatred began with the gossip and slander of Jesus – the mumbling that happened behind His back.  The hatred intensified in their verbal attacks. The hatred increased, even more, when they physically wanted to kill him.  And their hatred culminated with them illegally arresting Jesus and crucifying Him. 

Indeed, while Jesus was on earth, the world hated Him and generally speaking, they left the disciples alone.  However, when Jesus ascended into heaven, Jesus said that the world would turn its hate towards His disciples.  And we see this happen in the Book of Acts, where the disciples receive attack after attack after attack.  The whole book of Acts is full of the attacks on the world – attacks that are leveled against the disciples, even bringing death. 

Now, I would like to tell you that this does not apply to you today, but it does.  As the world hated Jesus, it hated the Apostles, and as the world hated the Apostles, it will hate you and me too.  As it happened to Jesus, so the devil and the world will persecute you and me.  We are pilgrims and strangers in this world – a world that is antagonistic to us. 

Now, keep in mind that Jesus does not share this to dump rain upon your souls, but rather, He shares this so that we might be forewarned.  This is shared with us so that we might know and expect that this is the way that it is.  In fact, this is shared with us so that we would not be caught off guard when persecution does happen.  For this is the lonely way of Christianity – proclaiming salvation and living in eternal hope, only to receive the hatred of the world in return. 

We may be wondering to ourselves, though, does this conflict happen today. Is it really as bad as Jesus said it would be? 

. . .   

It has been reported that over 100,000 Christians are violently – yes violently – killed annually because of their faith.[2]  According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith.[3]  And of the 100-200 million Christians under assault, the majority are persecuted in Muslim-dominated nations.[4]  All of this to say, Christians suffer more than any other faith group in the entire world. 

Jesus is correct; the world will throttle Christians as heretics, troublemakers, evil-doers, and so forth.  This is the nature of the world.  This is the way of the sinful nature present in the world; it is the way of the devil who works to kill, steal, and destroy the faith of Christians.    

Now, even though we have not experienced persecution to the degree that other Christians have experienced, we still will experience this hatred, hatred without a rational reason – pure hatred for just being a child of God.  And when this hatred comes at you in the form of insult, gossip, slander, or neglect, your conscience may become weak.  You may begin to wonder if you are doing the right thing.  You may wonder if you have confessed the faith too boldly, for the world and the devil will press hard upon you to recant and capitulate – to renounce the Christian faith and to get in line like everyone else. 

Dear friends, when this happens – for if it hasn’t, it will – keep in mind that you will find little comfort.  That is right; you will find little comfort when you are under attack from the world – you will find relatively no sympathy from the world.  That is to say; when the world is enraged in its hate and has set forth to persecute, there will be absolutely sympathy or relief within the structures of the world.  HR Departments, Employee Handbooks, Social Norms, and general common sense decency may attempt to curb the hatred of the world, but as we have seen with the suffering and death of Jesus, even a powerful Roman Governor was powerless to stop the momentum and power of the world’s hate. 

And so, when the world hates and persecutes you, you will have nowhere to go, which is good.  Yes, that is good.  When there is nowhere left to go for comfort, the Holy Spirit through the Word is there for you in the midst of your helplessness to comfort you and actually strengthen your faith. 

You see, Jesus promises us the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit tells the truth about us and the world, as He speaks to us in the Word.  Even the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians chapter 6 that the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.  What this means for you and me is this, the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God is like a mighty sharp sword.  The sword of the Word of God not only works offensively but defensively against the devil and the world itself. 

What does this mean? 

It means that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter.  He is the Spirit of Truth.  And we have been given the Holy Spirit in our baptisms and the Mighty Word of God.  The Holy Spirit does not flee from the hate and persecution of the world.    

So, when there is no more comfort to be had in the world, and we find ourselves at the end of our wits, we shall not despair, for the Lord is with us, and we have the Holy Spirit’s Sword, the Word to fight these enemies. 

For example, when the devil accuses us of sin, we admit that we are sinners and ask him, “What are you to do with your accusation now, you pathetic serpent?”  Then we make the sign of the cross over our head and hearts, remembering that we are among the redeemed.  We then confess Christ-crucified for our sins and tell the devil to the hell that he deserves. 

And when the world puffs its chest up and cries out superficial condemning clich├ęs that are here one day and gone the next, we neither get defensive nor agitated, but simply confess God’s Word, for His Word does not change and His Word is Truth – eternal truth. 

Indeed, you and I will get no comfort or honor or power or assistance from the world, but everything the world has will be used to extinguish you and me.  However, do not be alarmed, for what the world offers is temporary and passing.  The Lord Jesus Christ though gives you comfort – He sends you the Comforter, the Holy Spirit who will comfort you when you are frightened and discouraged, miserable and wretched, and forsaken by other people.  The devil is a misfit and a rebel, but the Holy Spirit is Truth and your Comforter who does not fail.[5]

So, when the world entices you with its comfort, by dangling ease, security, and happiness before you; know this, it is a counterfeit comfort.  It is neither real nor lasting.  The Spirit, though, through the Word gives you unfailing comfort that is lasting and true – the comfort that you are forgiven for Christ’s sake.  You will not be snatched from the Lord’s hand; the Lord is with you no matter how bad it gets. 

And if it gets really bad, that is to say; if the world’s hatred is unleashed to the point that you lose your spouse, children, house, property, clothes, and reputation, and even your body and life – know this: Jesus Christ put on flesh so that He could die and rise again for your forgiveness; He has ascended to the Father and will come to judge the living and the dead; you will not be forgotten, but all will be made right. Indeed, you will be given a new body someday and everlasting life.  Therefore, if all of this is true, which it is, what shall you and I be afraid of?  Because the Holy Spirit through the Word tells us that we are loved by the Lord Jesus, whom shall we fear?  Because the Holy Spirit through the Word tells us that Jesus is the victor over death, sin, and hell, we shall fear no evil, and we shall fear no hatred. 

The world may bring its worst, but its hate and persecution cannot snuff out the comfort and sure promise that the Holy Spirit gives to us in the Word.  And that promise is that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ – today, tomorrow, and forevermore. 

In the name of Jesus: Amen. 

[1] The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls - Internet Christian Library, (accessed May 25, 2017).

[2] “Vatican to UN: 100 thousand Christians killed for the faith each year,” News.VA, (accessed May 25, 2017).

[3] Godfrey Yogarajah (2008). "Disinformation, discrimination, destruction and growth: A case study on persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka" (PDF). Retrieved 24 April 2011.

[4] Bruce Thornton (July 25, 2013). "Christian Tragedy in the Muslim World". Defining Ideas. Hoover institution. Retrieved 23 July 2013.

[5] Martin Luther, Complete Sermons of Martin Luther: Volume 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 145. 

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