The Gospel of John

The Unknown Creator and Savior

The writer of the gospel of John was very careful to make certain that his readers knew the work of John the Baptist — that he came to bear witness of Jesus, the Light. Having said that, the writer hastened to add that John was not the Light. He was just the witness to the Light (John 1:7).

John then wrote of Jesus, “He was in the world and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:10-11). When John wrote that Jesus was “in the world” he meant that the Word was in the world He had created. He walked upon that earth and was affected by things to which He had bound it: His days were measured by the rising and setting of the sun; He was subject to the elements — the cold, heat, rain, and sunshine. But when the writer wrote, “And the world knew him not” he now referred to the people of the world whom the Word had created: the same world for which the Father loved so much that He gave his only begotten Son to save (John 3:16). Jesus, when He came to the world, was like any other created being, not the Maker of the world. Only through His miracles would His nature be known and those would be made known through His apostles whom He would send them with the message of His identity and the salvation He offered them (Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:15).

Yet, while the world knew Him not, the next phrase, “He came unto his own and they there were his own received him not” tells us that Jesus was rejected by those who should have received Him just as Isaiah had foreshowed they would do (Isaiah 53:1). “His own” referred to His nation, the same people who physically were descendants of Abraham as was He.

But He was more than that. He was God and had offered His proofs of His divinity to them. Peter said, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know” (Acts 2:22). Unlike the inhabitants of the Gentile around, “His own” could not claim, “We never saw nor knew Him”. His nation had seen Him through His miracles; however, they made little impression on them. When a man who was born blind was given sight by Jesus in John 9, the rulers said, “We know God spoke unto Moses but as for this man, we know not whence he is” (v. 29). The blind man responded, “Why, herein is the marvel that ye know not whence he is and yet he hath opened my eyes” (John 9:30). So hardened in their hearts of unbelief were they that the rulers considered putting Lazarus to death because many people were coming to believe on Jesus after seeing Lazarus alive (John 12:10-11).

Still, while His people, those who were His own, received Him not, to those who did receive Him and believed in Him, to them gave He the power (right) to become sons of God (John 1:12). There were a few of those “who were his own” who did receive Him. Nicodemus, who came to Him by night and said, “Rabbi, we know that art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these signs thou doest save God be with him” (John 3:2). While Nicodemus’ faith was at that point weak, it grew and grew so that at length he boldly joined with Joseph of Arimathea to prepare an honorable burial for God’s crucified Son (John 19:38-42). All of Jesus’ apostles were “of his own” and of course believers like Mary Magdalene, along with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. There were also others for there were 120 (including his brethren and his mother) who were waiting in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had commanded (Acts 1:15). On the whole, however, these were very few compared with the vast majority who rejected Him.

However, to as many as did receive Him, Jesus gave the power, the right to become children of God, even to them that believed on His name (John 1:12). Those who did receive that power, exercised that right by submitting to Jesus’ commands given them through Peter at Pentecost: “Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins …”  (Acts 2:38). Those who gladly receive his words “were baptized and there were added unto them in that day, about 3,000 souls” (Acts 2:41). Those who received His words, obeyed it and “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John l:13).

Jim McDonald