Receiving Jesus – John 1:9-13

Kevin A. Pierpont
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
12/19/04

In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their “flying machine” off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” He totally missed the big news—man had flown!1

There are many today who have missed the biggest news of all. In the midst of the busyness and activity of Christmas, many have missed the whole point of the reason for celebration. Christmas decorations are hung. Trees are put up and adorned. There are Christmas parties to attend. Christmas pageants are performed. Christmas carols are sung at concerts. Christmas presents are purchased and wrapped in beautiful paper. Christmas cookies and other goodies are baked and shared. Christmas specials are on television. Christmas movies are released in the theaters. Christmas cards are prepared and sent. Christmas packages are sent to loved ones far from home. Families gather together and celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts and eat good food.

Some dream of a white Christmas. It’s no dream for us—it’s reality here in Northern Michigan. It’s the “most wonderful time of the year.” We have warm memories of Christmas and it stirs sentimental feelings in our hearts. The world is busy celebrating Christmas yet many have missed the big news. So many miss the real point of the Christmas story.

This morning I would like to share with you the biggest news of all. I want to share with you the best news about Christmas. Many of you have heard the news. It is good to remember and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas. Even for those of us who know the good news of Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and not focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Today I would like for us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. We’ll be looking at the real reason for this season, how Jesus was rejected by His own, how he was received by some, how we can be regenerated by God and ask ourselves the most important question, how am I responding today?

Turn with me to John 1:9-13.

9  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

10  He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

11  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

13  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Real Reason for this Season (9-10)

Do you know the real reason for this season? The true Light came into the world. The true Light mentioned here is Jesus. Jesus is the real reason for this season. He is the true Light. He came into the world that was fallen and sinful, a world full of darkness in need of a light. Listen to what Jesus said of Himself in John 8:12.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Jesus is the light of the world. Those who follow Him do not walk in darkness but have the light of life. When Jesus came to this earth as a baby, He was the true Light coming into the world. He came to a world full of darkness. A world in need of the light of life found only in Jesus. He came as a baby born in Bethlehem so He could die on the cross and take the punishment for sin and be our Savior. Jesus is the real reason for this season. He is the One whose birth we celebrate. Christmas is about far more than Santa or reindeer or presents. The reason we celebrate is because the true Light came into the world.

Look at the first part of verse 10. He was in the world and the world was made through Him. Think about the wonder of that statement. There was a point in our history when the Son of God, Jesus Christ walked on this earth. The world was made through Him. Think about that! A couple of weeks ago we considered the words of John 1:3.

John 1:3  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

The earth and all that is in it and the people living in it was all made through Him. Without Him nothing was made that was made. Yet look at the words in the end of verse 10, the world did not know Him. They missed the significance of Jesus. They did not know Him. They did not recognize that He was the Son of God. They did not understand that the One through whom they were made was living among them. They missed that God was with them.

Many today in the world still do not know Him. They do not understand who Jesus is. They do not understand the significance of the Christ child. They do not understand the real reason for the season. Jesus is the real reason for the season. He is the reason we celebrate Christmas. He was the true Light that came into the world. Yet though He was the true Light, He was rejected by His own. Look again at verse 11.

Rejected by His Own (11)

11  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

Jesus came to His own people. He came to the people of the nation of Israel. He was born into a Jewish family but was rejected by His own people. As Isaiah prophesied, the people of Israel as a whole rejected Jesus. As the first few words of Isaiah 53:1 say…

Isaiah 53:1  Who has believed our report?

His own did not receive Him. Their Messiah had come to deliver them from the darkness of sin and offer them salvation, yet they did not receive Him. Jesus was rejected by His own. Think about how sad and tragic the words of John 1:11 are.

11  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

These words remind us of the words written by Isaiah in verse 3 of chapter 53.

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

The true Light came to His own people. They were in the darkness and in need of the Light he offers yet they did not receive Him. It would be a rather bleak and gloomy picture if the story ended there but it doesn’t.

If we look at verse 12 we see that Jesus was received by some.

Received by Some (12)

12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Though the nation of Israel as a whole did not receive Him, there were some who did receive Him. To those who received Him, Jesus gave the right to become children of God. Not everyone on this earth is a child of God. Only those who receive Jesus are given the right to become children of God. God created everyone on this earth but He is not the Father of everyone. You must receive Jesus in order to be given the right to become a child of God. Listen to the words of Jesus in John 8:42-44.

John 8:42  Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.

43  "Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.

44  "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

It is clear that God is not the Father of everyone. Only those who receive Jesus are given the right to become children of God. In verse 11 we see clearly that those who receive Jesus and believe on His name are the ones who are given the right to become children of God. There is only one way to God the Father and that is through Jesus Christ the Son. You cannot have a right relationship with God the Father through Buddha or Mohammed or any other man. You can only have a right relationship with God and become His child by receiving Jesus and believing on His name. Listen to how John Piper describes receiving Jesus and believing on His name.

“Receiving Jesus means that when Jesus offers himself to you, you welcome him into your life for what he is.

If he comes to you as Savior, you welcome his salvation.
If he comes to you as Leader, you welcome his leadership.
If he comes to you as Provider, you welcome his provision.
If he comes to you as Counsellor, you welcome his counsel.
If he comes to you as Protector you welcome his protection.
If he comes to you as Authority, you welcome his authority.
If he comes to you as King, you welcome his rule.

Receiving Jesus means taking Jesus into your life for what he is. It does not mean a kind of peaceful co-existence with a Christ who makes no claims — as though he can stay in the house as long as he doesn't play his music so loud.”

…believing in the NAME of Jesus is virtually the same as believing in Jesus. "He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." Here believing "in him" and believing "in his name" are used interchangeably. The "name" simply emphasizes the full stature and dignity and authority of the person. (John Piper)

Some received Jesus. They believed in His name and were given the right to become children of God.

And we see that those who receive Jesus and believe in His name are regenerated by God. Look at verse 13.

Regenerated by God (13)

13  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Those who receive Jesus are born of God. They are regenerated. They are given a new birth. Do you remember the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus? We see it in John 3:1-3

John 3:1  There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2  This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

The birth that is mentioned here and in our passage in John 1:13 is a spiritual birth. Notice the words, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man. It is not a physical birth. It is a spiritual birth. It is not a natural birth but a supernatural birth. It isn’t the result of human efforts but it is the work of God. He regenerates us. He gives us new life.

This is what Titus 3:4-7 describes.

Titus 3:4  But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,

5  not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

6  whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

7  that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It isn’t our own efforts that save us or regenerate us but it is God who saves us. He gives us new life. He gives us eternal life. That is the work He does in those who receive Jesus and believe in His name.

Responding Today

This morning as we have considered the real reason for the Season we are celebrating we see that Jesus is the reason we celebrate. We see that He was rejected by His own but received by some. We see that regeneration or spiritual rebirth is done by God not by our own efforts and now we come to the most important question each of us must answer. How are you responding to Jesus today? Have you failed to receive Jesus? Have you not known who He is or understood His significance? Are you a child of God this morning? Have you ever believed in His name and received Jesus?

It is John 3:16 that I think most clearly describes why we can celebrate the real reason for Christmas. And it’s a verse so many have heard and are familiar with.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Listen to this poem by Rebecca Barlow Jordan called Would We Know?

If we had been the shepherds one night long ago,

I wonder if we’d recognize the star or if we’d know

the reason for His birth and if we’d really go

to worship at the manger. I wonder, would we know?

Is it really any different than if Jesus came today?

I wonder, would we recognize His face in any way?

Or would we turn away from Him

not knowing what to say?

If Jesus walked among us in our hurried, busy pace,

I wonder if this stranger would really find a place?

How about you? How are you responding to Jesus today? Have you received Him as your Savior and Lord? Do you understand the real reason we celebrate Christmas and are you God’s child this morning? If you have never received Jesus, I urge you to receive Him today and become God’s child.

For those of you who have received Jesus, are you making Him the focus of your Christmas celebrations—and do you live to make Him known to others. Let’s make sure we don’t miss the big news of this season and let’s make sure that others don’t miss it either.


1 Our Daily Bread, 12-23-91