The Word and the World
 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (ESV)
Jesus Christ is not of this world. Though He came in the flesh, He was born of the Spirit through the virgin Mary. Though He was incarnate, fully man, walked as we walk, and spoke as we speak, He was pre-existent before the foundations of the world itself. Jesus is the Son of God, the exact imprint of the Father, who was present in the creation of the entire universe. This Jesus is not a part of His own creation. It belongs to Him. Therefore, He cannot be subject to what He Himself is Master over.
This is a marvel all on it's own - but perhaps even more astonishing is that Jesus is hated by His own creation. Romans 1 says that the world has exchanged the glory of God for man-made images. Although the world knew it's Creator, it did not honor Him or give thanks to Him. It is precisely this aversion to Jesus Christ that defines the term "worldly." Jesus is not worldly, for that would be a paradox. He is not of this world. He is sent from the Father, one with the Father, and He came with a mission to give a gift. That gift was His Word.
In John 17, Jesus is praying for His disciples on the night before His arrest. Though they could not keep their eyes open, He pours out His heart on their behalf. He knows they need His prayers, because they will be hated, just as He has been hated. They will be persecuted from one town to the next, brought before kings and governors, flogged in the synagogues, even families will rebel against one another (Matt 10). Shortly after watching their Lord suffer and die on a tree, they too would undergo some of the worst suffering imaginable. They would be hated by the same world that hated their Christ.
But there is good news too! Jesus came to give them the Word, and that was guaranteed to be a successful mission. We have to remember that the popular church is not always the Christ-following church. The evangelical majority is not always the faithful party. Biblically, those who have received the Word, both the Scriptures and the Word made flesh, are those who are hated by the world. Paul even calls himself as an apostle the "scum of the world, the refuse of all things" in 1 Corinthians 4. What we have in John 17 is a warning and an encouragement. The warning is that we should anticipate much hardship because of our devotion to Christ alone. People will desert us, friends will fail us, foes pursue us... This is the way of the cross. When we follow the Word exclusively, it gets us in trouble. However, the encouragement here is that Jesus HAS given us His Word, and He is praying for us! Even though the Word gets us in trouble, we wouldn't sacrifice it for anything. It's the only Lamp for our feet! It's the sweetest honey we've ever tasted! It's our only weapon in spiritual warfare. It's our only absolute truth. Where else can we go?
And not only do we have the Word, but Christ, the Word made flesh, is praying for us in our persecution. We are never alone, no matter who leaves us. We have a High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses. He sees every pain we go through, catches every tear we cry, and uses each trial for our good and sanctification. We grieve when the Word is abandoned for earthly, temporary pursuits. We mourn for the weakness in our churches today and those who twist the text for personal gain. We weep like David when the fools of earth mock us saying, "Where is your God?" Though our lives are marked by pain, suffering, and losing the ever-increasing popularity contest, our God is in Heavens, and our bruised Savior is at His right hand, interceding for us daily. We are in the world, and the world hates us as it hated Christ; but we take joy, for we have the Word.