By Tim Mize
The cross of Jesus brings home to us how poorly the world received him. The cross, in fact, was but the climax of a long-building hostile opposition. They did not all welcome the words and works of Jesus Christ.
There were some, for example, that did not appreciate him. His own home town, and even his own family at first, did not support him, and many others besides would not believe in him, support him, or other-wise appreciate him for what he was doing.
Still others received him with suspicion. Jesus, like many another independent soul that has marched to the beat of God’s word alone, was thought by those in power to be dangerous. His ways and words denounced the status quo the current social, political and religious state of affairs leading those who benefited the most from it to feel threatened. Their initial suspicion quickly gave way to active opposition. They treated him as a hated enemy.
Thus the world received Jesus, and thus it receives his disciples as well. Indeed, thus it has received the servant of God from time immemorial.
This is no surprise. The world has trouble loving and appreciating its own; no wonder, then, that it cannot love and appreciate the outsiders among it, whose very way of life exposes it and challenges it. We who sincerely heed the call to “be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed” (Rom. 12:2), should not be surprised when the world is not well pleased. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13).
The fact is, they won’t always appreciate you. They won’t always be fair with you. They might even resent you, even to the point of ridicule, physical abuse, or worse. More than once, the disciples, as did their Lord, have so angered and aroused the world as even to die by its hand. To compound the hurt, this mistreatment can come from friends, neighbors, and even family. What did Jesus say, though? “The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn. 15:18).
Does this mean that the righteous will always be persecuted? No. Not even Jesus was always persecuted. From time to time, however, and in varying degrees, negative reactions against the sincere and faithful must be expected (2 Tim. 3:12).
Does this mean that every persecuted person is righteous? By no means. Everyone, including ourselves, will be ill-treated at times for causes unrelated to discipleship. We should never take persecution as a sign that we are in the right, after all, even the very wicked are exploited and ill-treated by the world.
By following Jesus, however, we take upon ourselves a special suffering that we would not have had otherwise, that comes in the form of mistreatment from people outside of Christ. This is the truth that comes home to us today as we survey the cross.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: No 21, p. 9
November 4, 1993