It is easy to think that everyone loved Jesus. He taught love, kindness, and grace. Encounters with him resulted in healings to the lame, deaf, blind, and demon-possessed.
The reality is that in the gospel of John, he says something that I did not expect. Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure that will happen after his resurrection. They do not have any understanding of what he is talking about, but the Holy Spirit will come and remind them of what Jesus said later. In his words of preparation, he says this to them, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18 – NIV 2011)
The world hated Jesus. The people he helped, taught, and fed did not love him; instead, they hated him. Why? He goes on to explain in verse twenty-five that they did not have a reason.
Recently I heard someone explain this phenomenon in a way that I had never heard. He said something like this. Imagine you are lying in bed on a cold, snowy Saturday morning. It is dark, and you are sleeping soundly. In comes your spouse or your parent, and they flip on the overhead light into the total darkness. The room suddenly goes from night to glaring light, and our eyes immediately rebel against it. We turn away and usually are full of anger, no matter who flipped the switch.
The comparison is that when Jesus walked on the earth, he throws the light of God everywhere he went. People who were living in darkness suddenly withdrew as the light hurt their eyes. They responded in anger and hatred even though they had no idea what they were mad about at the time.
Here is the strange twist. Jesus says the way they treated me is an illustration of how they are going to treat you. If you go forward in the name of Jesus, there will be people who hate you. If you shine light into a dark world, there will always be people immediately upset with you. Their anger will seethe, and they really will not have a great reason to feel that way.
Yes, some people loved Jesus. The majority hated him. They hated him so much that they decided to kill him on a cross to get rid of him.
This realization has me asking questions about myself. Do I want people to love me? If so, I will have to compromise to achieve this. Do people hate me? If not, I am probably not shining the light of God. What if the effectiveness of a believer in Jesus is not how many followers they have but how many people hate them for the light they bring?