Adoption into God’s Family (John 1:12)
He Gives us the Right to Become Children of God (John 1:12)
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12), John has said that His own people rejected Him. But there was a counterpart. Some received Him. Some did in fact receive Him. John calls this “believing in His name”. This is what it means to believe in Jesus. It is not just an intellectual belief that He lived and died as a historical figure. It means to accept all that He is – God Himself and to throw the weight of our lives on this knowledge and trust Him completely. John says that to all who do this, He gives them the right to be called children of God. We had looked at this profound truth in more depth when we studied Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
We saw last week that the reason why John wrote this Gospel is so that we as the readers will be confronted with the magnificent portrait of Jesus, and to receive Him – to put our trust in Him. By believing in this way, we will have “life in His name” (John 20:31), and in fact become the adopted children of God. As children, we will get to inherit all of God’s wealth – the universe itself, and live in His presence forever – that is enjoy eternal life. Here we see that most people do not get to have this experience. Most people reject Jesus. But John is inviting us to be among the minority that do not reject Jesus but receive Him and believe Him for who He is!
He Helps Us Know God (John 1:18)
No one Has Ever Seen God (John 1:18)
John is asserting a fact here. God is invisible. Paul describes Jesus as the One “who alone has immortality, how dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16).
He Has Come From the Father’s Side (John 1:18)
However, this same Jesus, chose to come down from heaven – from the Father’s side, and to become man.
He Makes God Known (John 1:18)
This Jesus makes God known. Jesus said the same thing to Nicodemus: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (John 3:12-13). What a privilege we have, to actually know the God who could not possibly have been known unless He had chosen to reveal Himself to us. Yet this is what He did through all of Scripture, and ultimately in the Person of Jesus Christ!
When we see Jesus, we are actually seeing God. Jesus said “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)
We Can Still See God in Jesus
You may think – “Oh no! I did not live at that time. I lost the opportunity to see God”. But that is not true. There are two reasons
Firstly, we have just seen that when He was on earth, the world did not recognize Him. That would most likely have been our lot if we lived at that time. Remember Isaiah said that there was nothing attractive in Him as a human being, and only those who saw Him with opened spiritual eyes could actually see His glory (see John 9:39-41). Today as believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is the one who opens our spiritual eyes when we read the Bible. And when we read with opened spiritual eyes, this is how Paul describes it: “We all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). This is what we are doing when we study the Bible together. We are getting to see God in His glory through the words of Scripture and the illumination of the Holy Spirit. We see God with the eyes of our heart (Eph 1:18) that are wide open and able to see God. We are privileged to be alive today, with the Bible as accessible as it is (it has only been this way in the last few centuries), with this opportunity of revelation.
Secondly, the Bible says that this life is not all there is. There is eternal life to follow. That is where we fully experience what it means to be children of God. That is when we have unfettered access into the Presence of God Himself, and will actually “see Him as He is” in all of His glory, and that joy will never end (see 1 John 3:2 and John 17:24).
If we ask “what is God like”, a very good place to start is to see God in the Person of Jesus. In Jesus, we see a God full of compassion and grace who is the embodiment of truth.
Let us do a quick recap of the prologue of John’s Gospel. What is John actually saying here? He is climbing a ladder here. He starts by asserting that God is invisible and cannot be seen. This God existed before time, and is the Creator of the universe. Then He says that this God revealed Himself by giving the law through Moses. This helped us to better understand what God was like. But He was too holy and too scary for most people to think they could have an intimate relationship with Him (although some even in the Old Testament who got to know Him, did). But then, God became human. And as a human being, he walked and talked with us, and spoke to us and taught us. And the promise is that when we put our trust in Jesus, He will give us the right to become children of God! God is just not knowable, but He is knowable as our Heavenly Father.
Thus, as we see in this passage, when we read Scripture, God came not just to stock our heads with knowledge, and not just to show us grace, but to give us grace; and we must receive it. Don’t spurn this grace. Receive it. And let your hearts be filled with everlasting joy as children of God.
Questions to Dig Deeper
- Jesus said “it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper [the Holy Spirit] will not come to you. But if I go I will send him to you” (John 16:7). Do you see that living at now an advantage compared to if we had lived at the time of Jesus? Explain why you feel this way.
- When you think about God in the Old Testament, do you see Him differently compared to what you see in Jesus? Discuss what appears the same or different, and what it means.
- If no one has seen God at any time, how was it possible for people to not only see Jesus, but to interact with Him and even touch Him? What do you understand about the nature of Jesus while He was on earth?
- What is preventing you from knowing God intimately, the way John describes in his prologue?
- What do you think John means by saying Jesus gave those who believed in His name the right to become children of God?