We focus our attention on verses 11-13, where we learn how to become a child of God and what it means to be a child of God.
It’s often pointed out that our world is very different from the world into which Jesus was born. We must, however, ask the question, “Is it really that different?” We can point to many differences. We must also recognize that there is a sense in which the world hasn’t really changed all that much since Jesus’ time.
We’re told, in verse 11, that Jesus didn’t get a very warm reception when He came to this world. He didn’t receive a hero’s welcome. He didn’t get the red carpet put out for Him. He wasn’t honoured as a VIP - a Very Important Person.
“He came to His own people, and His own people received Him not.”
His reception was no civic reception, no big occasion for invited guests only. It was a non-reception. They did not receive Him.
Jesus was born into the nation of Israel. He came as the Saviour of Israel. The nation of Israel did not welcome Him. They had no time for Him.
Is this not very similar to the situation in today’s world?
Jesus, the Saviour of the world, calls people to come to Him. They do not come. He pleads with them. They refuse to come to Him.
Down through the centuries of time, in many different lands, the story repeats itself; “He came to His own home, and His own people received Him not” (v. 11).
This is not, however, the whole story. In Israel, Jesus called people to follow Him. Down through the centuries, in many different lands, Jesus has continued to draw men and women to Himself.
The people of God may not be great in number, compared with the vast numbers who turn their backs on the Lord Jesus Christ.
We do not, however, lose heart. We rejoice in God the Father, who, in love, has brought us into His family as His sons and daughters.
As we consider two things - how to become a child of God and what it means to be a child of God, we may find it helpful to draw a comparison with the commitment of marriage and the relationship of marriage.
For some of us, marriage has not been a joyful commitment. It has not been a happy relationship.
It must be stressed that our relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ is the source of true joy and happiness.
There is a basic difference between a relationship between two sinners, especially where one partner persistently refuses to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, and the greatest relationship of all - knowing God as our Father and rejoicing in the privilege of being His children.
Looking at the ideal underlying marriage may help us to appreciate more fully how we become God’s children and what it means to be God’s children.
Prior to marriage, the man is a bachelor and the woman is a spinster. After marriage, the man is a husband and the woman is a wife. Marriage is a life-changing experience. You will never be the same again.
Even when a marriage fails, the man cannot simply return to being a bachelor and the woman cannot simply return to being a spinster. Through marriage, you become a different person. The bachelor becomes the husband. the spinster becomes the wife.
How does this help us to understand the Christian experience of becoming a child of God?
Before coming in faith to Jesus Christ, God is our Creator and we are His creatures. Once we have come in faith to the Saviour, everything changes. God is now our Father and we are His children.
The moment of coming in faith to the Saviour is a life-changing moment.. It is the moment when the creature of God becomes the child of God. It is the moment in which we come to know God, not only as our Creator but also as our Father.
He is no longer the faraway God. He is no longer the remote, detached and distant God. He is no longer the unknown God.
Now, we know Him. He is our Father. He loves us and He has come near to us in Jesus Christ.
Life can never be the same again, once we have come to know the father, through His Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The new life which we have begun is eternal life, a life which has no end, a life of praising our Father in time and for eternity.
A marriage begins with a question and an answer: Do you take this woman to be your wife? - I do. Do you take this man to be your husband? - I do.
The Christian life, life as a child of God, begins with a question and an answer: Do you take Jesus Christ as your Saviour? - I do.
Taking Jesus Christ as your Saviouir is a decisive step, a life-changing act.
It is an act, which involves your total personality. It is an act which involves the mind, the will and the emotions.
- With your mind, you believe what the Bible tells you concerning Jesus Christ.
- With you will, you commit yourself to living in the will of God, living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
- With your emotions, you experience the joy of knowing that God is your Father and that you are His child.
The most appropriate way of describing the experience of receiving Christ and becoming a child of God is this; it is a new birth, a heavenly birth. You are born again, born from above, born of God.
The questions which the Word of God sets before us are these:
- “Do you know God as your loving, heavenly Father?” or “Is there no more than a vague awareness of Him as your Creator?”
- “Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Are you a child of God, rejoicing in the love of God the Father, the grace and mercy of the Saviour and the power of the Holy Spirit?
- If there is any doubt, will you answer with faith now?