He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. — John 1: 11
Let us accept those who are sent to us by God in the present.
At this time of year in particular we commemorate the events preceding the salvation-bringing sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The prerequisite for this act of salvation was the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. The starting verses of John speak of God as the Word, through whom all things were created. They also speak of the Light that is to illuminate all human beings (John 1: 1–4). Both of these—Word and Light—took on form when God the Father sent God the Son to become Man (Philippians 2: 7–8). Thereby God intervened in the history of mankind in order to deliver man from sin.
This intervention was already announced in the Garden of Eden. The prophets tirelessly pointed to the appearing of the Messiah, last among them John the Baptist, who likewise testified of the Light (John 1: 6–8; Mark 1: 4).
It is thus all the more understandable that God’s activity of salvation through Jesus Christ should not find any acceptance (John 1: 5, 10, 11) especially considering that God first sent Him to His own. This refers to the people of Israel, God’s chosen people, because they had always been God’s people and had always had a special covenant with Him, and because Jesus came forth out of this nation and worked among its people (Isaiah 11: 1 et seq.). However, His own—the people of Israel—did not accept Him.
Accepting the Word today
The Son of God sends His disciples out in order to proclaim His doctrine. He does this with the words, “He who hears you hears Me” (Luke 10: 16). At the same time, He points out the danger of despising His messengers of salvation and thereby rejecting His offer of salvation. Jesus Christ has given the Apostle ministry to His church. This ministry has the commission to teach and to baptise. Those who hear the words of the Apostles and the ministers commissioned by them hear the Lord. In the Intercessory Prayer, Jesus interceded especially for those who would come to believe in Him through the word of those whom He had sent (John 17: 20). Thus it is important to accept the Lord in the word of His messengers.
This occurs in the right manner when we:
- Keep the word from the altar of God holy and do not allow it to be robbed of its value by outward appearances. For Nathanael and many of the scribes, the lineage of Jesus was enough to make them view Jesus and His word with prejudice (John 1: 46; 7: 41–52).
- Accept the words of the absolution in faith, even though they are spoken by sinful human beings. The Lord stands behind the commission of His servants, and believers will then indeed experience that their sins are forgiven!
Spreading the light to others
Light is the foundation of life and an image of knowledge. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reinforced His mandate to all Christians to spread the gospel and thus proclaim eternal life and the knowledge of God’s plan of salvation to all people with the words, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5: 14–16).
We can live up to this commission given by Jesus by:
- Testifying of our faith with even greater courage, especially under difficult circumstances such as increasing injustice and remoteness from God.
- Exhibiting the nature of Christ in our service to our neighbour. Without regard for status and standing, let us bring joy to others by coming to their aid with a strengthening word and a kind deed whenever we find the opportunity to do so.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle, adapted for service held on Sunday, 22 March 2015 at Midrand Congregation