The Responses to Christ
In 1803, just a year before the death of Franz Haydn, there was a performance of his masterpiece called “The Creation”, in Vienna. The composer being old and feeble was brought into the hall in a wheelchair.
The hall was darkened as the performance started, and then the orchestra and chorus burst forth with full power, “As there was light.”
With electrifying enthusiasm, the audience broke forth with a crescendo of applause. Moved the audience’s response, the conductor struggled to his feet. With hands trembling he cried out, No, No, not for me, but for thee – for heaven above.”
I wonder: if the response of all of Israel was a celebration at the birth and early life of Christ. Would John the Baptist have ever needed to be born, to prepare the people for the coming Messiah?
But John was needed, and even then there were those who still didn’t understand who Jesus was. In Matthew 16:4, when Jesus asked his disciples what others say He is, they said, “Some say thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias or one of the prophets.”
To be sure, there were those who were drawn to Jesus, and yet, because of peer pressure they were unwilling to commit themselves to what they physically saw: a man.
Some saw in Jesus a madman or worst one that was demon possessed. Some of the religious leaders committed the unpardonable sin, by attributing His miracles to the work of Satan.
Even in Mark 3:21, members of His own family looked to take Jesus home, saying, He is “beside Himself.” As mortal men, we tend to be shallow, materialistic and even fickle. Such was the case with those in Jesus’ day as well.
What stopped those people from celebrating Jesus as their Messiah; is the same that also keeps people from doing so today: unbelief.
And yet to the praise of our God who giveth us the victory, many in seeing and hearing, they did believe on Jesus; and today, we also have their testimony and that wonderful gift of faith so we may also believe.
In John’s opening verses, he has revealed the deity of Jesus. He now reveals the two responses man has had (and will continue to have) to the testimony about Jesus. We begin with first the testimony…
I. THE TESTIMONY OF JOHN (John 1:6-8)
There is a striking change in the wording found in vv.1-5, and the wording in vv.6-8. After describing the eternal existence of the Word/Jesus, there is a shift in speaking of a coming messenger.
The difference in how Jesus and John are presented; this is as different as night and day. All of which demands, the Word in vv.1-5 that the Apostle John has introduced, is not John the Baptist.
Yes they were both sent into the world, but for different purposes. John the Baptist was given a task prophesied in Malachi 3:1, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and He shall prepare the way before me.”
People indeed flocked to John who preached of the need to repent for the Kingdom of God was coming. And He baptized people, to identify them with the message of repentance.
Yet John was keenly aware how he had to decrease, so that Jesus may increase in popularity with the people. Mark 1:7,8, John said, “There cometh one mightier than I after me… …I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.”
John was the witness of the light that came in the person of Jesus Christ. But so as not to exalt John above measure: v.8, “he was not the light.” He was only a witness in giving testimony that paved the way for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.
With the testimony now given, we next see:
II. REJECTION BY UNBELIEVERS (John 1:9-11)
The very fact that John was needed in the first place in pointing out the light of the world; this is a sad commentary of the spiritual condition of the world. It reveals how man is born in darkness and move over is blinded to the things that are of God.
Paul in 2 Cor. 4:4, speaks of Satan as having, “blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel… should shine unto them.” Yet we can’t blame the devil either. In Romans 1:19,20, Paul outlines how light has been given to see truth, so that man is “without excuse.”
But notice, when Jesus came into this world He was neither some space alien from another world to help in building the pyramids or the Great Wall of China.
It was our Creator who came to us, “the world was made by Him…” He is our God, who came to reveal Himself and to bring to us His great salvation.
But the tragedy of all human history and time eternal is “…and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.”
Jesus came not only to the whole world at large; He came specifically to His own chosen people, to Israel. And even they had rejected Him as their Messiah.
Because of this rejection or unbelief, John the Baptist was needed to pave the way for Christ. The Jews, of all people should have responded the light. They should have listened and looked to Jesus in repentance.
But at last, “…broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat.” But all is not lost as there is the narrow way that leads to everlasting life and is seen in the next response to the testimony that has been given.
III. ACCEPTANCE OF BELIEVERS (John 1:12,13)
The word “but” acts like a fulcrum: upon which all things will pivot. It reveals the opposite persuasion is about to be heard.
We should never feel threatened or intimated when unbelief is heard. Yet the other side of the story must be allowed to be given a fair hearing. I’m not saying within our church we are to give unbelief a fair hearing.
Yet as in a school setting, some believe evolution ought to be taught; well creation is the other side of a fair hearing that ought to be allowed to be heard.
And when there is an open forum, yes, there will be those who will reject; but there will also be those who “receive.”
To receive, is more than the intellectual acceptance of the facts, the claims of Christ. To receive implies something we do, and yet there is nothing we can do physically by good works, to be saved.
To receive is an act of reaching out, by calling upon Christ to save your soul. Jesus died upon the cross to pay the penalty of your sins. To receive Him, you must ask Him to save you.
The light which we are to receive, is in pat the gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for sin. It’s here we find cleansing, restoration, and forgiveness of sin; as we receive Christ as that light.
And if that not enough reason why one ought to be saved then notice “…to them gave He power to become the sons of God…” And if sons, Paul say we are also heirs. We are the family of the living God. God is now our heavenly Father who will take care of His own for all eternity.
Becoming a child of God, is by virtue of sins forgiven, and is 100% the grace of God, through faith that not of yourselves it is the gift of God less any man should boast (Eph 2:8).
It’s God who saves us; it’s His power that adopts us into the family of God.
So then being born again (being made a child of God) is not going to happen in v.13, because of your blood line; being born into the right race, or born in the right family tree.
It’s not going to happen, because deep within your heart, as the will of the flesh, you simply prefer to go to heaven rather than going to hell.
It’s not going to happen, because it’s the will of you fellow man, either your parents or grandparents or anyone else.
Getting saved, is a gift of God. The gift is faith that causes us to believe the Gospel message (the testimony of Christ) causing us to pray the sinners prayer in receiving Christ as our Savior.
And that makes it personal. I’ve been asked, “Why do you call Jesus Christ your personal Savior?” Jesus indeed died on the cross for the sins of the world. He even died for your sins. But what’s important for me, is that He died for MY sins; He’s MY Savior!!! And I am His child and one day He’s coming for ME!!! Can you say the same thing for yourself? If not then by faith you must call upon the Lord to save you.