John 1:11-13 It’s all about the heart
John 1:11-13 It’s all about the heart
He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-13
The author of John’s gospel endeavours to awaken the Jewish people from their state of complacency. The Jews were the descendants of Abraham whom God gave the promise of salvation. God has planned to use the Jewish nation as a vessel through which the Christ, the divine wisdom is introduced to the world. The irony was that the Jewish race that supposedly knew God through Abraham did not recognize Him when He came in human form. They supposed that by possessing the scriptures and being the descendants of Abraham would guarantee them a permanent place in God’s Kingdom. The fact was they did not agree with His value systems, and were bitterly opposing His rule on earth.
1. God revealed Himself in person to the world beginning with “His own” referring to the Jewish people who were the descendants of Abraham. God has planned to use Israel as vessel through which humanity will be transformed by divine wisdom. The tragic thing was that, His own people rejected Christ as being their Lord and Messiah.
2. As it is written, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” God came not only to save the Jewish people, but to save the world through them. Thus, whoever is willing to believe in His name; to acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour, He will adopt them as His children. The act of believing involves a commitment to walk in all the teachings of Christ trusting Him to protect and to provide. However, many “believe” in Him for the wrong reasons; they came not to repent but to fulfil their selfish desires. Their focus is on blessings and promises, not on the heavenly way of living life.
3. The Jews believed that being the descendants of Abraham and possessing the scriptures is sufficient to make them children of God. Hence, the author clarified that salvation belongs only to those “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” What does that mean? It means that salvation is not something that is automatically obtained by heritage or by man made rituals and religious affiliations. But God Himself will recognise those who are His: who were born of the will… of God. The children of God are those who are willing to do what He teaches despite tribulations and to love even their enemies.
God is not biased against any particular person, race, culture, gender, social class or moral background.
Whoever comes to Him acknowledging His Fatherly love and Lordship, He immediately appoints them as His children. It is written, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God… even to those who believe in His name”. “Those who believe in His name” simply refers to those who make God the Lord of their lives. To believe in God is to obey His directives even when it does not make sense and to depend on Him to save. In other words: to turn away from sin in repentance and to turn to Christ in faith. There were two criminals who were condemned on the cross together with Jesus. To the thief who said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Some perceived themselves as being more acceptable to God because of their heritage, their knowledge of the Bible, good reputation in the community, or their position in church. God looks only at the heart and accepts those who are humble and willing to walk in His ways.
What does it mean to be a child of God? As a child of our parents, they provide for our every need and spend much time with us. They see to it that we receive the best education in order to fulfill our potential. We begin to take on their positive qualities and at the appropriate time receive our inheritance. A child of God has God as his Heavenly Father. And if our earthly father being imperfect will give us good things, how much more God who is perfect, will father us in His perfect love (see Matthew 7:9-11). However, God as a loving Father, teaches and disciplines His children out of love to protect them from danger and to turn them back to safety. For He will never punish and disown His sons. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
1. We serve others from the abundance of our heart. Hence, we must always seek to purify our heart from all deceit, hatred, pride and lust. All our daily endeavors including our activities in church must be undergirded by an attitude of love towards God and others. Our worship and offerings towards God mean very little if our heart does not revere God and love Him. The key that bridges our relationship with God and with others is our heart of love. Christ came in love and offered Himself, and in love we receive Him as Savior and Lord of our life.
2. We must always esteem ourselves as the children of God, destined for glory and honor. Our glory lies not in our abilities, heritage or what others may think of us, but in how God sees us. Some Christians think they are more spiritual or superior to others because of their heritage. They thought that God would value them more because they spent more time in church and ought to be given a special place in His inner circle. But God gives all people equal access to Him regardless of their social status, religious heritage or knowledge. God has the right to raise up any person as He wills. Hence, let us not be intimidated by those who seem spiritual, but know that you are very much a child of God as they are. At the same time, honor those who are humble and who offer their lives in service for others.
Dear Lord, regenerate within me a pure heart, a heart that loves and forgives. Only one with a pure heart can transform this world into a better place through love. Thank you for making me Your son and use me as Your servant to bring others to you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.