16:1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.
And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you."
Yesterday Jesus told His eleven that they were to become witnesses. Today as He continues He makes it known that some of His followers will not just be witnesses in how they live but witnesses in how they die. Notice the reason why Jesus is telling them this dark news - so that it doesn't make them stumble.
Generally I find two reactions to the less than sunny news in the Bible. Some focus in on it, amplify it, cause fear with it, and use it as a motivator to get people to "live right" or "be ready". The rest, as a reaction to or defense from this approach simply ignore it all. Of course neither is good. We always tend to extremes it seems.
Jesus is love. Every word and action is motivated by His love. Looking into the future He knows many of them and many more throughout history future will walk a path similar to His own and for the same reason - misguided religious zeal.
Jesus was hated and sent to the cross by the religious zealots. He knew as soon as He was gone the hatred aimed at Him would shift to His eleven and anyone else who joined them.
Jesus warned them because He wanted them to be prepared. Not prepared in the sense that they could do anything to change it or prevent it but prepared mentally and emotionally. He didn't want them caught off guard and blindsided. Being hated and hunted is miserable but being hated and hunted by your own who are supposed to love you and be on your side is emotionally devastating. It's confusing and disorientating and at the end of the day it causes us to doubt God. How can this be? How can He be letting this happen?
For these reasons Jesus peels back the canvas covering their future and gives them a glimpse of what it will be like. The synagogues (churches) will be closed to you. Family and community ties will be severed. It will even come to the place where they will murder you believing they are serving God. The Greek actually says they will consider it an act of worship.
History has been red with the blood of lives cut short by Jews, Christians, and Muslims thinking they were doing God a favour by killing the 'heretics' and 'infidels'. The irony is that in many cases the slain were the true followers of the true God.
Where is the good news in all this? God loves us enough to tell us the whole story. How many times have we been told how great something or someone is only to find out later that was only half (or less) of the story? They call that buyers remorse. Jesus tells it all. He wants us informed and prepared no matter what may come - because He loves us.