Because the conditional statements from Jesus in John 15:20 portray a truthful reality, they could be translated with the word since—since they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. Since the world persecuted Jesus because of his message from God and his life lived set apart unto God, the world will persecute his followers who speak his message and seek to live in conformity to his life. The light of the truthful message and the holy living creates a growing irritation to those who are committed to darkness. They know they cannot do anything to the source of the Light, since he sits at the Father’s right hand in heaven, so they must attack his witnesses in order to seek to put a damper on the light.
However, we must remind ourselves that we are just unworthy slaves of the King, so if we suffer reproach for the King, why do we consider that as the worst thing that can happen to us? That’s not how the early church viewed it. Do you recall what is written after the apostles are released from their second arrest early on in the book of Acts?—Acts 5:40…after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
The one who refuses to incur any shame for the name of Christ will be largely unfaithful at best and fall away at worst. So many people live with this desire: “I want a Christianity without any possibility of incurring any shame.” So do you want a Savior who did not have to incur shame? If so, you’ll have to look for someone else besides Jesus, since he was constantly ridiculed and shamed throughout his ministry and then experienced the ultimate shame by dying a criminal’s death on the cross in the place of sinners.
Jesus is clearly using this teaching opportunity to tell his disciples that following him is not for those who want to make a name for themselves in this world nor for those who wish to have the widest friendship network possible. Christ will cost you popularity; Christ will cost you friendships; Christ will cost you smooth and pleasant family gatherings; Christ will cost you advancement in the workplace; Christ will cost you respect among peers. Is he still worthy of all your allegiance and worship or is something you gain in this world from others more valuable?