In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him; and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1: 1-5; 9-14
What is it to receive Him? Perhaps we should look at what His people did to not receive Him. They did not recognize Him for Who He was. He told them that His home was in heaven, that He was God’s Son. They did not believe Him. They accused Him of being from the devil.
But there were some who did receive Him. Among them were Mary, His mother, Simeon, and Anna. They knew the scriptures telling of His coming. They had been watching for Him. When He did appear on earth, they rejoiced. They praised God. They recognized Him to be the long-awaited Savior who had come to save His people from their sins; who had come to transfer His people from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. He had come to make those who did receive the real, actual children of God and to redeem them to live as those created in the image of God. Jesus had come so that those who had been separated from God could be received again by God because their sins were paid for by Jesus.
I’ve run into a synonym for receive over the last few weeks. To commend means to recommend as worthy of confidence or notice. So when Jesus came to earth as an infant, there were some people who did recognize that Jesus was worthy of confidence and notice as the long-awaited Son of David, the Son of God. They recognized that He was good and holy.
The strange thing is that Jesus came so that we could be received, commended. As He walked about the earth, during His brief years of ministry, He also recognized those around Him of being worthy of notice – the Samaritan woman, the blind man, the woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years, His friends: Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, His disciples. Just think how often Jesus not only saved people, but pointed them toward wholeness and holiness and goodness.
As those who have become a part of God’s family through Jesus, we too are to receive others – to recognize them as people, created in the image of God, who have value, who may also return to God through Jesus. How important it is for us to be people of light also, commending the goodness and the good that we see in others.
My prayer for myself and for all God’s people is that we would receive men and women and boys and girls, to commend the goodness that we do see, and to speak truth where necessary with the mercy and compassion of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
This, I believe, is true hospitality.