Merry Christmas, Christ has come! I love how John tells of Jesus’ coming in John 1.
In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it]….There it was – the true Light [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] which, coming into the world enlightens everyone. He (Christ) 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 [that which belongs to Him – His world, His creation, His possession, and those who were His own [people – the Jewish nation ] did not receive and welcome Him. But as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name….And the Word (Christ) became flesh, and lived among us; and we [actually] saw His glory, glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception).John 1:1-5, 9-12,14
There it is. The story of the Christ, breaking forth into His creation – giving something and showing something; however, the giving and the showing was not for available to everyone. It was available to ‘as many as did receive and welcome Him’. What is it to ‘receive’? To receive is to come into possession of (acquire) to act as a receptacle or container for, to assimilate through the mind or senses, to permit to enter (admit) , to welcome or greet, to react in a specified manner, to accept as authoritative, true or accurate (believe).
It helps me to imagine the meaning of receiving as I think about someone coming to my home to visit. I think about how I (hopefully) hospitably welcome or greet someone who knocks on the door of my home. I open the door with a smile. I respond to the knock with, ” Please come in. It is so good to see you. Can I get you something to eat or drink? How are you? Please tell me about yourself.” I sit with my guest, I listen, I share, I inquire. Have I received that person? I think so.
Is it any different when Christ comes into the world? God and Jesus created humans for fellowship with Him. There was a beautiful relationship of God providing for and humans receiving care from God. A very evil being fractured that relationship (see Genesis 3), but Jesus came to earth, to those He had made, to give them the right and privilege to have that beautiful relationship restored. We need only to receive Him. And God initiates, He calls, He has sent, He works in our hearts so that we can respond.
What changes for us when we receive Christ? Two things happen – we are given the right and the privilege to become children of God and we get to see the glory of God as expressed by His Son, here on earth among us. All things become new when we receive the One who has come to us.
Jesus lived on the earth for thirty-three years. He died – on a cross, by the hands of men and by the will of God, so that He would be a perfect sacrifice, taking our (each one and all of us) entire evil nature upon Himself. He did this so that we could live out of God’s nature alone, and not the evil intervention that had come into the world. He did this so that we can live in God’s love, in relationship with the Trinity of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – forever. Without Jesus’ death, it is not possible to live in a kingdom with God and all who have become children of God.
After Jesus died, He arose. He came back to life. He conquered and overcame death. And then He ascended. He went back to Heaven to be with His Father and to prepare a place for us. He will return for us at God’s appropriate time. Are we alone then, without God or Jesus? No. Here is what Jesus told His disciples as the time for His death was approaching:
Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also….and I will ask the Father; and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor – Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, bereaved, and helpless]; I will come [back] to you.John 14:1-3, 16-18
Jesus goes on to say, “The person who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love Him and reveal Myself to him [I will make Myself real to Him.]” John 14:21
What a promise! And so we wait faithfully for His return – continuing to receive and welcome Him, continuing in relationship with Him, and being attentive and appreciative to the Holy Spirit who is yet with us as we wait. May we be found faithful upon His return!