John 1:10-13 (NIV): He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The first two verses of this section are among the saddest in the Bible. Jesus came into the world that He Himself had created, but the world and the people in it didn’t recognize Him as their creator. The Messiah for whom the Jewish people had been waiting for centuries finally came to them, but they rejected Him, even to the point of crucifying Him. Even after everything Jesus did, mighty miracles, casting out demons, healing the sick, making the damaged whole, and even raising the dead, the vast majority of the people He came into contact with would not accept Him for who He claimed to be: God in the flesh.
Admittedly, the world’s acceptance of Jesus as the Creator who had come to earth was hampered by a lack of historical precedent. God had appeared to His people on many occasions, and in many different forms, all of them different than a mere man. But the fact that He would come as a man was prophesied all through the Scriptures. Even the things that Jesus would do when He came were outlined clearly in places like Isaiah 61:1-3 (claimed by Jesus in Luke 4:17-21 and the basis for Jesus’ reply to John’s messengers in Matthew 11:2-6, “Go back and report to John what you see and hear…”), and in Isaiah 52:13-53:12, which predicted His suffering, death, burial and resurrection in exquisite detail. So even without a historical precedent, the Jewish people who knew the Scriptures well should have recognized Him easily for who He was.
The good news in verses 12 and 13 is that not everyone rejected Jesus. There were some who received Him, who believed in His name, and who, in exchange, received eternal life and the right to become God’s children. Many teach today that all people everywhere in the world are God’s children, but that is not what the Bible teaches. All people in the world are God’s creations and He loves us all and wants the ultimate good for us. But a person can only become one of God’s children through receiving Jesus, by believing in His name, that is, by believing that He is who He said He was, God’s one and only Son (cf. John 3:16), and that He did what He said He came to do: to die to pay the price for the sins of all humanity, and rise again to defeat death forever. If they do those things, and only if they do them, they receive the right to become children of God.
And, as someone said, God has no grandchildren. Being the child of one of God’s children does not give us any status with God. Each one who becomes one of God’s children must do so in exactly the same way: by receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, and by believing in His name.
Father, this could not be any clearer in Your word. It is sad that more people have not believed and become Your children. That means that we, who are Your children, still have a lot of work to do, helping people to understand who Jesus really is, what He has done, and what each of them must do to become Your children, too. Amen.