But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
This is a profound verse. First, John stated that, “the world did not know him” (v.10). Secondly, he stated that, “his own people did not receive him” (v. 11). Thirdly, he stated that there are those who do receive Him—who do recognize Him for who He is and embrace Him accordingly. Does that not contradict the previous two verses? Are those two verses just general statements, not including everyone?
In the previous two verses John stated a definite blindness—not recognizing Him for who He is—and a state of rebellion—rejecting Him. Now it seems that he simply did not mean every single individual. Obviously there are those who do recognize Jesus for who He is and receive Him. Are they just better people than the ones mentioned in the tenth and eleventh verse? The answer to this seeming contradiction is actually found in the next verse, but let us first consider this one.
The gift of salvation is a person: “I will give you as a covenant for the people” (Isa. 42:6). Or as John would later write: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son . . .” (3:16). Jesus came into our world and we either reject or receive Him. In his fist epistle, John stated that as follows: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).
We also see that the essence of believing is receiving. Notice how receiving is explained as, “who believed in his name.” Receiving Jesus and believing in Him are synonymous. Thus, to live by faith simply means to receive Jesus for all He is, for all He has accomplished and obtained, and for all He has promised to be and do.
When we receive the Son of God by faith, we became God’s adopted children. As Paul wrote: “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph. 1:4-6). That brings us to the next verse, clearly explaining the seeming contradiction why some do receive Him.
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The Devotional Writer
Author of “An Unfathomable Gift!“