4/28 John 16:2

2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.

There are many passages about persecution in the Bible. That's because the world can't understand why we are different, and what they can't understand frightens them. It is natural to attack that which you fear. The disciples would soon be upsetting the status quo in synagogues around Jerusalem. Paul turned the world upside down, causing "trouble throughout the world" in synagogues all over the diaspora (Acts 17:6). Even when the disciples would gently explain that the Jewish leaders did not recognize their Messiah, their explanation caused an adverse and often violent reaction.

The synagogue was not only the place of worship, but a gathering place to discuss affairs of the people and a place to share news. To be "put out of the synagogue" was to be dishonored by your peers. That eventually happened to all who would proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. They had to choose between being accepted by their culture or following Jesus.

The Jews who defended the traditional interpretations would feel they were serving God by persecuting this new sect called Christians. The apostle Paul, before his conversion, even thought he was serving God when he hunted Christians to kill or imprison them. When people serve a religion in which they believe they are earning a god's favor by defending it, there is no end to the atrocities they will do in "offering service to God." Our fellow believers around the world are experiencing this verse on a daily basis, even from religions that claim tolerance and peace. Some believers are imprisoned and others are being tortured and mutilated. There is more persecution of Christians now than at any time in church history. Most of those who are suffering will not deny the Lord, who suffered for their salvation.

Consider: Don't forget to pray for encouragement and grace for our fellow believers who are enduring persecution from family and religious zealots.