Read: John 15:18-25
Being a follower of Jesus associates one with Jesus. Jesus is telling them that they can reasonably expect to be treated in the same manner he was treated while he was on earth. First, Jesus spends most of the time talking about the world hating them because of him. Jesus was persecuted during his ministry so much so that he had multiple death threats on his life. The reality of persecution is realized during the first few chapters of Acts when Stephen is stoned. Paul says it can be expected with great certainty (2 Timothy 2:13). When it does come, one should not be surprised, but rather pray for those who do persecute you (Matthew 5:44), escape it if possible (Matthew 10:23), and rejoice and be glad because of the reward that awaits believers in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12). Second, Jesus also talks about some obeying his teachings, and so they could reasonably expect others out of the world to obey his teachings. Even in light of persecution, there will be some who will believe in the name of Jesus. The Great Commission commands the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations “teaching” them to “obey” what Jesus had commanded them (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus promises to build his church (Matthew 16:18) and disciples do this just as Jesus did and hand commanded them: by teaching others what they had been taught who will teach it to others (2 Timothy 2:2). This generational propagation of the gospel is something that disciples could expect too.
Jesus says this was to fulfill what was written in the Law from Psalm 69:4. Psalm 69 speaks of a man who has been falsely accused of any number of things, but in the end, the things were just that: false accusations. The psalm continues with a plea of repentance and humility, a plea for deliverance and justice, and ultimately a praise for the the triumph of God throughout the entire earth!
When Christians do the work of God, it is always a win-win situation whether one is winning converts or whether one is building up rewards in heaven because of persecution. One need not worry about the growth, rather one need worry only about teaching others to obey what Jesus has commanded. When some do believe, there will be great joy and when one is persecuted there will be great joy too! In the end, God will be exalted in all the earth too.
Lord, I know some will and some will not obey. In any case, help me to obey you!