There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (1 John 1:6-13)
John introduces another man named John, a man whom we commonly know as “John the Baptist”. For the sake of clarity, going forward, I’ll refer to the author as “John” and the other John as “the baptist”. By the way, the other gospel writers refer to the baptist as “John the Baptist”, and John is the only one who doesn’t do so, because he doesn’t need to refer to himself by name. However, in humility, as we’ll see, he only refers to himself in his gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. He wanted no glory for himself in his biography of the King of Glory.
John says that the baptist was sent from God, not in the sense that he was from heaven, but rather that the Lord had commissioned him for a specific purpose. He was to be a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. The baptist served as the herald of the King. He announced His coming, and through him, elect hearts were prepared to receive the Savior.
John makes it clear to us that the baptist himself wasn’t the light, but that he came to bear witness about the light. There were some in John’s time who thought that the baptist might have been the long-awaited Messiah. John draws that line very clearly.
John goes on to say that the true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. This doesn’t mean that everyone is given sight to see the light, but nonetheless, the light is shining on everyone. The good news of His salvation is available for everyone to hear. The external call to come to Jesus is given to everyone. Whether they choose to listen is a different story.
The light was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. This is a bit shocking, when you think about it. The Creator of the world steps into His creation, and yet it doesn’t recognize Him. It reviles Him.
John adds that He even goes to His own people, ethnic Israel, the people who prided themselves in being children of Abraham and the people of God, the people who were anticipating a Messiah, and yet they didn’t receive Him. They were expecting a Messiah of their own creation. They didn’t listen to His word about how He would be a suffering servant, and instead were looking for a conqueror of Rome.
But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. These children were not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh or of man, but of God.
This is a beautiful bouquet of roses at which we need to stop and slowly breathe in. In a world that insists that we are all children of God, being a child of God is something that we can take for granted. The Bible doesn’t teach that all people are children of God. Instead, it teaches that all people have made themselves enemies of God. To be considered children of God, in light of our sinfulness and rebellion, is something that should knock us to the floor whenever we think about it. John would later write, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). O see what kind of love the Father has given to us!
How deep the Father’s love for us–how vast beyond all measure–that He would give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.