Why Do They Hate Us?

And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Mark 13:13

Everyone wants to be loved.  A flip side to this is that no one wants to be hated. So how can it be that Jesus’ disciples will be hated?  This is especially baffling as we wonder how hatred can enter the grand scheme of things when Jesus is God in the flesh, and God is love!  Strange; Love-incarnate promises that His followers will be hated!

However the hatred of the world does not begin with hatred extended to Jesus’ followers.  The hatred of the world is first extended to Jesus.  He explains:  If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you [Jn 15:18]. But why does the world hate this lovely, caring, merciful, miracle-working man?  There is no justifiable cause for this hatred, as Jesus also explains:  But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ [Jn 15:25; Jesus quoting Ps 69:4]. If the world could look logically at their hatred of Jesus, it would realize there is no reasonable cause or basis for such hatred.

Yet there must be—at least in the eyes of the world—a reason for the hatred of Jesus.  This too Jesus explains when He says that the world hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil [Jn 7:7].  So here we find the first explanation as to why the world hates Jesus:  He exposes the world’s evil.  Jesus does this in at least three ways.  First, He applies God’s law like never before, and the law works like a mirror, for through the law is the knowledge of sin [Rom 3:20].  Second, Jesus simply declares mankind to be evil (e.g. Lu 11:13).  Third, Jesus is the only human being—ever—to lead a sinless life.  He loved even His enemies unto the bitter end, demonstrating this by His first words from the cross when He prayed for His enemies, Father forgive them [Lu 23:34].  This bright light of Jesus’ perfect love exposes the dark shadows of man’s corruption.

There is another reason the world hates Jesus. It is simply because He is God.  The Apostle Paul explains where the world stands in relation to God: …while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son [Rom 5:10].  Ever since the fall into sin, every human stands as God’s enemy.  Though God reaches out in love to save His enemies, human beings march to the cadence of war, doing that which the world believes befits an enemy:  We hate him. Thus it was only fitting and “natural” that when God became man, the world hated Him.

Now Jesus promises His followers: …you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.  We are hated for His name’s sake.  To be hated for His name’s sake means His followers are hated for who Jesus is and what He does. Our Lord explains the foundational reason why the world hates His followers: … If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you [John 15:19]. Jesus here indicates that when He chooses us out of the world, the world turns on us. And so—uniquely in our Baptism—the Lord called and chose us out of the world. Being chosen out of the world we are not just placed in an empty box, but we are united with Christ.  And being in Jesus, He empowers us to be like Him.

Thus, like Jesus, we proclaim the Law. We proclaim true love toward God and our neighbor, and we proclaim God’s design for marriage and for the sacredness of life. Such a proclamation exposes our own sins and our continued need for forgiveness, but it also exposes the world’s sin.  Unless the Holy Spirit brings exposed sinners to the fountain of forgiveness, they stew in their exposed sinfulness, becoming increasingly angry toward the Christians who exposed such sin.  Thus even as the world hated Jesus for exposing their sins, so the world hates those united with Him as they do the same.  Though none of us has attained sinlessness, yet in Christ our lives are truly changed.  We have learned and are empowered to truly love.  The world will often see this “goody-goody” life of a Christian to be repulsive, because again it exposes the world’s corruption.  Thus again, we “goody-goody” folks receive hatred.

Christ was hated because He is God.  Of course none of us is God (though we are now His children), but when we testify that this man who died on the cross and rose from the dead is God-our-Savior, this causes the hackles of the world to rise up and they once again snarl at us in hatred.

What is the end result of such hatred?  For Christ, it fomented His torture and crucifixion.  But God in His infinite wisdom caused this to be the very act of Jesus by which man’s sins are atoned for. As Jesus frequently predicted, Christians have been hated, some have been tortured, and some have been tortured to death. The second half of our verse explains how Christ’s followers will endure such hatred:  But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Christ’s followers see salvation.  Hatred is temporary; blessedness in Christ Jesus is eternal.