Watercolor painting by E. J. Kirsch

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Aug 4, 2013

“What Did You Expect?” 8-4-13

John 15: 18-45
August 4, 2013

I stand before you and before the table of our Lord.  On that table are the reminders of his death.  They are symbols of his suffering and our victory.  He suffered and died for us.  It was by his death that we were given victory over or release from our sins and the eternal effects of our sinfulness.  It was because of his sacrificial death that we expect to be a part of his eternal kingdom.
His death had these powerful effects because his life was not just a human life.  Jesus was the eternal Son of God, a person in the eternal trinity of God so his life was a divine life.   That divine life was sacrificed (albeit temporarily) to obtain a victory for those who had mortal human lives.
Jesus talked about these effects of his death on the night he had that last supper with his apostles.  But he also said some other things.  According to the gospel of John, Jesus said a lot of things at that supper.  The gospel of John is 21 chapters long.  Five of those 21 chapters contain things Jesus said or did at that last supper. That is over 23 percent of the entire gospel that is dedicated to things that John places at the last Supper.
Included in that material is the passage we have before us from John 15.  As he stood before them with the meal on the table that the other gospels tell us included the bread and the wine, he told His Apostles that the people of this world would treat them and His other followers the way they treated Him.  He said “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.”  …. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world-therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you…”.
In the past few years we have seen this principle being demonstrated.  Human rights organizations are saying that Christians are the most persecuted group of people on the planet.  The last two years have seen great persecutions of one of the most ancient groups of Christians on earth, the Coptic church of Egypt.  We have seen increased persecutions in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, places where our nation has been greatly involved.  The persecution of Christians has also come to Africa.  Six months ago a pastor in Nigeria was dragged from his home and shot and killed on his front porch in front of his wife and daughter.
We should be concerned about those Christians who are persecuted, and pray for them, but we really should not be shocked that more Christians are persecuted today than ever.  Jesus said that his followers would be treated by the people of the world as the people of the world treated Him.  And as we stand before His table, we are reminded that the people of the world killed Him. 
Jay Leno has a new “bit” or routine on the Tonight Show.  It is entitled “What did you think was going to happen”.  They show a video of people doing some really stupid things and then ask “What did you think was going to happen?”   One of my favorites involved a group of older men sitting at a table at some sort of a celebration.  In the background someone was setting off fireworks.  Suddenly someone put a rocket in the middle of the table.  All the men just looked at it.  It went off and went straight up and came straight down into the middle of the table, still exploding.  All the men got away as fast as they could, except for one old fellow who just went over backwards in his chair.  Then came the question “What did you think was going to happen?”
Jesus told us that those who followed him would be persecuted by the world, as the people of the world persecuted him.  As we think of suffering Christians and come to the this table which reminds us of Jesus’ Death we need to hear Jesus asking “What did you think was going to happen?”
We have a right to be troubled about the persecutions of Christians occurring in other places, but I am also concerned about things that are being said in this country.  A man has told the Chiefs of Staff of our military forces that Christians are nothing more than terrorists.

In the arguments and dialogues surrounding recent decisions of the Supreme Court of the US it was said that the only reasons to deny same sex couples the right to be married were bigotry and Homophobia. That attitude, if accepted by many could make life difficult for many Christians who understand that the Scriptures forbid and condemn homosexual acts.
The actual persecutions of Christians around the world and the possible coming persecutions of Christians here are troubling to me.  But there is another statement in this passage of John that also troubles me.  In verse 19 we read: “If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own.” 
As I look at my life in relationship to the people of this world, it seems to me that I am pretty much loved and accepted or at least tolerated.   Most of the people of this world seem to accept me as a Christian and a Pastor, even if they do not understand what makes me tick.  As I look around this community and this congregation, it appears that the world has done pretty well by us.  We have become very comfortable in this world.  Which makes me wonder, Am I really as devoted to Jesus and his kingdom as I think I am if the world does not understand me to be its enemy?  I think it is good for us to ask that question of ourselves as we receive the Lord’s Supper.  It is also good for us to recommit ourselves to serve him and his kingdom, regardless of what might happen to us in this world.
In this meal, we have the clear, undisputed symbols of the hatred of the people of this world for our master.  They killed him.  Are we really his servants if we are treated well by the people of this world?  I am not suggesting that we go William Wallace on the world and pick a fight with it, but I am suggesting that if we really serve our Lord, as he served us, the world will be picking some fights with us.
Let us pray.



Pastor David L. Horner
Faith Presbyterian Church
West Lafayette, IN 47906