Prepare to listen. Be still to cultivate the attitude suggested in these words from Isaiah: Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. (Isaiah 55:3)
Read John 1:9-13
9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
‘But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.’ This was one of the first Bible verses I memorized as a child. It still has power to evoke awe and wonder within me. It’s final phrase, ‘he gave power to become children of God,’ is the central phrase of John’s Prologue (1:1-18) and indeed, a central theme in John’s Gospel. No explanation is given in the Prologue. We’re invited to live with the phrase and ponder it in our hearts and keep reading through John’s Gospel.
The verse before it highlights the rejection of Jesus by his own people, those who claimed to see clearly but failed to see Jesus for who he was. And then comes a little, yet big word—BUT. In contrast to the rejection by his own people (Jews), all, regardless of race (Gentile or Jew; black or white), who receive and believe in his name; these are the ones who are given this extraordinary power to become children of God. It sounds easy—just receive and believe. And, in a sense it is easy, a gift of God freely given. But (that little-big word) receiving and believing involves total commitment; “not only assent of the mind, but the allegiance of the whole person,” As Lesslie Newbigin puts it in his book, The Light Has Come. Jesus demands no less. And, as other scripture teaches, we’re required to demonstrate our faith through our works.
How do you think ‘power to become the children of God’ can affect you today?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Lord you gave me power to become a child of God. May this never cease to be mind-boggling to me so that I live each day as your child. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world as a child of God.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.