Post image for 5 Feb 2009: John 1:9–13

5 Feb 2009: John 1:9–13

by Stephen Hebert on Thursday - 5 February 2009

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

John 1:5–8 presented a momentary digression about John the Baptist, a figure to whom we will return shortly, the following verses (vv. 9–13) return to the previous discussion of Word, Light, and what exactly God is doing.

Hebert Translation Nestle-Aland 27
The True Light, which enlightens every human, was coming into the creation. It was in the creation, and the creation came to be through it, but the creation did not know it. He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. To as many as did receive him, he gave authority to them to become children of God, to those who believed in his name, who were born not out of blood, nor out of the will of the flesh, nor out of the will of man, but out of God. Ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον, ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον. ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον. ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, οἳ οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκὸς οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρὸς ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν.

Jesus, the True Light, was coming into the world, coming into the creation. This creation, this kosmos (κόσμος ) had come into existence through his work — Jesus made it happen. Yet, in spite of the fact that it all originated from him, this creation did not know him. It did not recognize him. As if this weren’t enough, Jesus appears to his own people (τὰ ἴδια), i.e. the Jews, and they did not know him.

It is amazing to me that the True Light can come into the midst of the Darkness and remain totally unrecognized by the very people who were so fervently hoping for him and expecting his arrival. Yet this is the case.

Question: Why did this True Light come into the world?

As strange as it may seem that Jesus was unrecognized by his own people, his reason for being here was even stranger and more magnificent.

To as many as did receive him, to them he gave authority to become children of God.

That is an incredible statement. Those who receive this True Light, who recognize him for who and what he is, have been given a fantastic power: to be adopted by God, to be grafted into the divine royal line as heirs to the Kingdom.

It is difficult for me to imagine what it means to be a “child of God.” It is impossible for me to operate as if God has adopted me in all his love and compassion. Instead, I reduce God to humanist terms and ask: “Where have you been lately?” Is that really the case? Though I may feel like God has abandoned me, is that really what is going on here?

God has revealed himself to us in so many ways. He is continually knocking at our door, hoping that we will invite him in. Yet, we don’t even recognize him. We are his people, yet we don’t even know who he is.

He came to his own, and his own did not receive him…

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