December 12, 2021
I never thought I’d ever say this, but here it is: There’s a problem with Jesus. Now, nothing bad about Jesus himself. If you know who Jesus is, then He is everything to you. If there were ever anyone who could fit the description of “amazing,” it’s Jesus. And we learned that last week as John introduced us to Jesus at the beginning of his gospel. Jesus is everything to us, because Jesus is the eternal Word of God who shows us exactly what God is like – for He Himself is God.
Jesus is the Creator of the World, who created you to know Him and restore your relationship with God.
Jesus is the Light of the World, who has come to rescue you from the darkness of your sin and give you abundant and eternal life with Him. Jesus is amazing.
So, what’s the problem of Jesus? The problem is this: As great as it is to know who Jesus is, to know that He came to reveal God to us, to know that He came to restore our relationship with God, and to know that He came to give us life – as great as it is to know these things – the problem of Jesus has to do with how you respond to Jesus.
The problem with Jesus is what you will do with Jesus? For example:
How about those who remain neutral to Jesus? There’s a lot of people in this camp. They’re all around us. Many have some church background. They even own Bibles and are somewhat familiar with Jesus. But they choose to sit on the fence, never really taking seriously His claims or His life – thinking that maybe someday they’ll get around to dealing with Jesus, but they never end up acting on what they know. But you know, staying neutral to Jesus is a response to Jesus. And that’s a problem.
Or How about those who want nothing to do Jesus? There’s quite a few in this camp today as well. They may even be familiar with Jesus. But they don’t see him as all that relevant to their lives. In fact, they’ve gotten along just fine without Jesus all these years, so they don’t really see the need for Jesus, so they’ve given him no place in their lives. But that too is a response to Jesus. And that too is a problem.
But what about those who have chosen to embrace Jesus? What about those who’ve actually believe Jesus is everything God says He is and more? This too is a response to Jesus. But is that a problem? What does God’s Word say about this response?
So where do you fit? How do you respond to Jesus? To help us answer these questions, let me encourage you to return with me to the Gospel of John. Our passage today is John 1:6-13, where John reveals for us three ways you can respond to Jesus. And the first way is found in verse 10,
1.You can ignore Jesus The Bible says this of Jesus: He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. John 1:10 As we learned last week, Jesus created all things. Nothing exists today that Jesus did not have a hand in it. And that means every single person you lock eyes with today owes their existence to Him. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were created in the image and likeness of God. You were created with dignity and worth, by Jesus.
So, when Jesus walked among us, He was constantly working to restore His creation that had been damaged by sin. You see this everywhere in His interaction with people. He restored the outcast to fellowship. He gave dignity to tax-collectors. He made second class citizens his closest friends. He was not indifferent to our plight. At every turn He revealed the compassion and mercy of His Father to those in need.
But as Jesus walked among us, the world simply did not recognize Him as God with us. They did not know Him. They could not recognize Him. When they saw him restore sight to the blind; all they saw was a man. When they saw him heal the lame; all they saw was a Sabbath breaker. They failed to recognize His compassion. They failed to acknowledge His love. The true light was shining in their midst, the genuine article revealing God’s love and mercy was with us, but they were so steeped in darkness they could not see God in Jesus. The world did not know Him. The world never does. In fact, the world’s characteristic reaction to Jesus then, and its reaction to Jesus today is one of callous indifference. The world ignores Jesus because the world is blinded by the darkness of their sin.
As one writer has said, “Jesus made our eyes, yet we refused to see His glory. Jesus made our ears, yet we refused to listen to His words. Jesus made our heads, yet we refused to bow before Him.” God’s Word says it this way: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
This is the problem of Jesus in the world today. People all around us are blinded to the reality of who Jesus truly is. This is why people are indifferent to Jesus. This is why people are on the fence about Jesus. This is why they don’t recognize Jesus as God and just go about life thinking he was a good man, but nothing more. They can’t see Jesus as God, because they are cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. They are blinded by the god of this age. They are blinded by the darkness of their own sin. Now that’s a problem. However, there is hope.
This is why John came as a witness to the light. In the verses previous to this we read about his witness: There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. John 1:6-8
Let me make a couple of observations about this witness. First, this man who was sent from God is John the Baptist. John the Baptist is not the author of this Gospel. The author is the Apostle John. However, the Apostle never refers to himself by name anywhere in this book. So then, every time we read this name John, it’s referring to John the Baptist.
Second, John is described here as a witness. In other words, John the Baptist arrives on the scene with a message from God about Jesus. John did not design the message. His job then, was to point people to Jesus – to prepare hearts to receive Jesus.
Third, John had one goal as a witness. His goal was to help people believe in Jesus. His goal was to help people see that Jesus was indeed the true light, the genuine article – that Jesus was God with us, so that people would put their trust in Him. In fact, this word “believe” introduces the major theme of John’s gospel. This is the gospel of belief. As the apostle reminds us: But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. John 20:31
So, the good news to the problem of Jesus is that those who ignore Jesus don’t have to stay ignorant. And the reason they don’t have to stay ignorant is because God always uses ordinary people to witness to the light of Jesus. That’s why John the Baptist is such a model for us. He came to help people open their eyes, open their minds, and open their hearts so they might see the true light of God in Jesus Christ, and once seeing, turn to Jesus and trust in Him.
God uses witnesses of the light because people do not naturally seek Him. In fact, for years I wondered what the big deal was about Jesus. Every year at Christmas we would sing Christmas songs about Jesus. I knew that there was something special about Jesus but I had no idea what it was. It wasn’t until “a witness” of Jesus, someone who knew Jesus, began to clearly explain to me who Jesus was. That He was my Creator, my God and my deliverer – and that through Jesus not only could I be forgiven, but I could actually come to know Him personally. God used the witness of Paul Wrobluski to shine the light of Jesus for me. And God still uses witnesses today to open the eyes of those blind to Jesus. And most of the time He uses ordinary people like you and me to overcome the problem of people’s ignorance of Jesus.
But ignorance of Jesus is not the only problem of Jesus. The Apostle John now tells us a second problem people have with Jesus. And that is this:
2. You can reject Jesus Listen to how John describes this response toward Jesus: He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive him. John 1:11 Not only was Jesus ignored by the world at the time he arrived on the scene, but we see here that He came to His own, and they wanted nothing to do with him. They did not “receive”him. Now, this word, “receive” has a very significant meaning. It is the same word used in Matthew 1:24 of Joseph receiving Mary to be his wife. This was after the scandal of her pregnancy. And this was after the Angel told him, to not be afraid to receive Mary as his wife. As such, receiving implies entering into a relationship of trust.
So when we apply this to God’s own people the Jews, we see that they refused to trust Jesus. Therefore, they refused to receive Him and instead, rejected him and ultimately crucified Him. Think about this with me: Jesus came to that which was His own – to all that He had the right to possess: to a land, a people and a throne – all that was His according to the promise of God’s covenant with Israel – all that was His by right of him being the legal heir to David’s throne – all that was His because He was God’s anointed – The Messiah. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive him.
But there’s even more: When Jesus came to this world he did not come as an alien. He came home. This is the world He created. Moreover, He came to the people He had chosen to be His own. Had he come to some other nation we could understand him being rejected. But He came to those who should have recognized him and embraced him as their Messiah. For centuries Israel had been waiting for their promised Messiah, but when at last he appeared, not only did they refuse to trust in Him but they instigated his destruction. They openly and thoroughly rejected Jesus. And sadly, this is also a theme we will see throughout this Gospel. Yes, this is the Gospel of Belief. But it is also the story of Jesus’ rejection by His very own people. This is the gospel where we will see many ‘would be’ followers walk away from Jesus. This is the gospel where will see religious leaders conspire to kill him. This is the gospel where we will see one of his closest friends betray Him. This is the gospel where even the Chief Priest of all Israel cries out to have Jesus crucified. So, yes, this is the gospel of rejection.
And the sad reality is that we live in a world that continues to reject Jesus. Many don’t see Jesus as relevant to their lives. Many have gotten along just fine without Jesus all their lives, so they don’t see the need for Jesus now or ever – so they want nothing to do with Jesus, and they think you foolish for following Him. And the reason they think you are foolish, is because their own hearts are captive to the darkness of sin. But then there are even others who are so enslaved by the darkness that they will openly hate and reject Jesus. Speaking of these, Jesus will speak this truth: This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. John 3:19-20
Again, this is the problem of Jesus. There are people who will not just reject Jesus, but will hate him. And that means there will be people who will hate you. Now, I know this is not good news. But this is the gospel where Jesus gives us this warning: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19
So the problem of Jesus, is that not only will you will encounter people who want nothing to do with Jesus – you will also meet people who will hate you for following Jesus. Remember, as I said last week. Jesus is never really a neutral figure in this world. So there will always be people who are ignorant of Jesus, and there will always be people who want nothing to do with Jesus and are even antagonistic toward Jesus, so they will reject Jesus. But there is one more response to Jesus that John wants us to see now, and that is this: But there will also be people who will trust in Jesus. 3. You can receive Jesus
I’m so thankful that these verses follow verses 10 and 11. Sure, there are numerous accounts in this gospel of those who are indifferent to Jesus, and there will be equally as many who flat out reject him. But John saves the best for last. He wants us to know that this gospel is full of people who did receive Jesus and believe in His name. And so he writes: 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. John 1:12-13
Here’s the good news: Those who respond to Jesus by receiving Him and believing in His name are given special status with God. God Himself grants to you by virtue of the authority in Him, the right to become His very own child. Here John declares for the very first time that salvation originates in the heart of God. In other words, no one can attain this new birth as God’s child by his or her own power, merit or ability. Only God can grant this new status as His child.
And yet remarkably, John tells us that this status is granted to anyone who responds to Jesus by faith. And He spells out for us what faith in Jesus entails. First, it’s universal, “all who.” Up to the time of Jesus’ coming, salvation was only offered to specific groups. Salvation could be found in philosophy, if you had the right amount of intelligence. Or salvation could be found in the mystery cults, if you knew the right people and were initiated in the right ceremony. Or salvation could be found in the Jewish religion, if you had the right racial pedigree. But now with the coming of Jesus, salvation is available to anyone, irrespective of intelligence, connections, race or religious background. You need no special status to come to Jesus, you just need to come.
Second, it’s personal. More specifically salvation is now available to anyone who receives Jesus and believes in His name. As we saw earlier, receiving implies entering into a relationship of trust. So it’s personal. It’s trusting in Jesus as the One who took your place on the cross to die for you. But this trust also implies believing in His name. And to believe in His name means you are trusting in a whole person – in everything expressed in His name, in His character. You are trusting in who Jesus is. This is why this Gospel presents Jesus to us as the Word of God, the very expression of all who God is. And this Gospel presents Jesus to us as the Creator who has come to restore you to life with Him. And this Gospel presents Jesus to us as the Light, who has come to give you life to the full and eternal life with Him. So faith in Jesus means trusting in Jesus as both the Savior who died for you and the God who is always for you. Faith is personal because God personally laid down His life for you to bring you to God.
Thirdly, it’s a gift from God. When you put your trust in this Jesus, then it is God who gives you the privilege to become His very own child. He makes you His child not because you were born into a religious race or family. And He makes you His child not because of your intellectual ability to decide for God. And He makes you His child not because your spouse or someone else convinced you to decide for Jesus. No, God gives you the right to become His child because His Holy Spirit opened your eyes to see the light of the glory of Jesus Christ, when you heard the good news about Jesus and put your trust in Him alone. So, faith is a gift from God to you and His gift is Jesus.
And the good news today is this: you can receive Jesus by trusting in Him and believing in His name.
So, let me ask you this today: What will you do with Jesus?
Perhaps you’ve been keeping him at arms-length. Sure, you’re somewhat familiar with Jesus, but you’ve never really taken him seriously. Did you know that staying neutral to Jesus is just the same as rejecting Jesus? If that’s where you find yourself today, then let me encourage you to continue worshiping with us and learning the good news about Jesus as we walk through this Gospel together.
Or perhaps you’re one who has written Jesus off. You feel like you don’t really need Jesus and are doing fine without Jesus. If that’s you today, let me challenge you to consider who Jesus claims to be, and let me ask you: What if Jesus really is God who has come to die for your sins? What if everything God’s Word says about Jesus is true? What I’m asking is that you let God show you who Jesus is, then see if you are really fine without Jesus.
And finally, perhaps you’ve always wondered about Jesus, you like what you’ve learned about Jesus, but you’ve never actually put your trust in Jesus. So I ask you: what’s stopping you from trusting in Him today? What’s stopping your from putting your faith in Jesus and becoming God’s child? Is it fear? Is it your doubts? Is it your lack of knowledge? Is it your pride? Is it some hurt your suffered by the hands of a church in the past? Whatever has been holding you back, Jesus will help you overcome it, if you are willing to receive him and believe in His name. Will you trust in Him today? That’s the question John poses for us in this gospel: What will you do with Jesus? Let’s pray.