If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)
A world of hostility toward truth, a world infatuated with sin, a world full of broken people who want to rule themselves—Jesus was born into this world. And if Jesus was received in this way, with hatred, should we expect to be received any differently?
For some of us, Christmas carries with it a suffering and hardship rooted in hostility. Perhaps a close friend, relative, or spouse has betrayed you, leaving behind wakes of bitterness and confusion that make it difficult to rejoice in this season. Perhaps the political climate and culture wars harshly remind you that all isn’t right with the world, that total justice has yet to be served, that our nation teems with lost souls who need the rule of Christ the King.
Perhaps this Christmas, rather than joy and peace flourishing in your relationships, tensions are high and truth is a battle to be fought. Christ came into this world, freely and joyfully, and he walks closely with you in yours.
And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. (Luke 8:36-37)
Every day, a person either gets closer to Jesus or falls away from him; no neutral ground exists when it comes to knowing the Son of God. This is why Jesus asks his disciples (and us), “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). How we answer reveals how we relate to Jesus, and how we relate to Jesus determines our eternal future. No stakes could be higher.
When Jesus heals the demon-possessed man, the crowds greatly fear him and ask him to leave. They refuse the Christ, the only Son of God. This refusal continues today, as people reject Jesus’ kingship, hate his light, and are offended by his truth.
If you’re in any similar circumstance of being refused this Christmas, especially as a result of your faith in Christ, take comfort. Jesus knew the outright refusal of a hostile world. He walks closely with you in yours.
And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. (Luke 6:7)
Imagine the unceasing tension of being preyed upon by your opponents, as they wait for you to mess up and actually enjoy watching it happen. Maybe you don’t need to imagine this because it’s your reality, as the person you once trusted takes every opportunity to accuse you.
This was Jesus’ reality. The spiritual elite stuck close to Christ not to follow him, but to frame him. Their supposed commitment to truth led to Christ’s incrimination on the cross. Even there, as he suffocated to his death, they flung insults at him and cursed him.
Maybe this Advent season is clouded with the hostilities of your earthly accusers; and for us all, it’s our spiritual accuser, our greatest enemy, who is at work. But take heart—Jesus Christ knew the accusations of a hostile world. He walks closely with you in yours.
And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him….And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. (Mark 15:17, 19)
Jesus is Savior to those who’ve been abused; he is also the Deliverer of abusers. Only the Son of God, with all love and justice, could appeal on behalf of his torturers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He knew the deepest pangs of human abuse, from physical scourging to verbal mockery, and took all of this sin upon himself at the cross.
Friend, if the hostility you’re enduring this Christmas season is rooted in abuse, know firstly that Jesus empathizes; second, that he is hope, life, and peace for you amid your pain; and third, that a way out is possible for you. Talk to someone you trust, whether your pastor, a friend, or a counselor. Jesus Christ knew the abuse of a hostile world. He walks closely with you in yours.
On the day Christ came into our hostile world, the kingdom of God was breaking into reality through human form, a promise proven in Jesus that his people would be governed and enlightened by him from their darkness (Isaiah 9).
On the day Jesus rose from the dead, resurrecting to eternal life at the right hand of his Father with full approval, God’s Word from Psalm 16 was proven true: “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.”
And on the day when Christ returns to crush the serpent’s head once for all time, his reign and victory will be ultimately, finally proven and our battle against hostility, finished forever.
Christ came to conquer this world. He walks closely with you in yours.