Believing and Receiving
This verse continues from the previous one which said: “He [Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11). But there were some who did receive Him – they are identified as those who ‘believed in His Name’. What does that mean? To ‘believe in His name’ means ‘to trust Him as a person knowing the integrity of His character and the authority of His commission’. Some people did that. That is why they received Him. What does that mean? To receive somebody is to welcome them and offer them hospitality. The people who believed that Jesus was the Messiah gladly received Him into their homes and received His words as God’s. Revelation 3:19-20 describes how any person who hears Jesus can choose to welcome Him into their life.
But ‘receiving Jesus’ does not simply make believers a part of His team; they also become part of God’s family. They are given the right to be children of God. It is not because of what we do but because of what Jesus has done for us. Just as children are not born by their own efforts, but by the parents; in the same way, people are only born again into God’s family by His decision and power. All those who are born again are immediately given the right of access to their Heavenly Father. They are the ones who inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 25:34).
Although there are many religions in the world, Jesus Himself said that He was the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Only through Jesus is it possible for sinful human beings to become holy children of God. Their faith is simply to agree with God’s condemnation of their sins and believe that Jesus was punished instead of them. When people receive Jesus, they are born again by God’s Holy Spirit. That is the gospel message. Jesus commanded the disciples to proclaim it, and Peter preached it at Pentecost (Acts 2:38-39).
It is the same gospel message which God has given to us to proclaim. Our task is to let others know the truth about Jesus. Everyone who knows they are a child of God should be concerned if their family and friends are outside His great family. Perhaps it would be a useful exercise to work out what you would say if somebody asked you, ‘Why should I believe in Jesus?’ or ‘How can I be born again?’ Those opportunities might come to you at work in the next few days so be sure that you are ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15).
© Dr Paul Adams