John’s Gospel begins with some of the most exalted descriptions of Jesus Christ in Scripture (all fully deserved), but here we come to a sad irony. He made the world and everything in it, and then in humility took on humanity in order to reach out to us. And what was the result? The world didn’t recognize him, and even his own people didn’t receive him for who he was. Of course, this just refers the majority of Jewish people in his day, not every single one of them. He had probably a few hundred people who would've called themselves his followers, and even fewer who were truly dedicated.
But I really want to focus on the huge contrast we see at the end of today’s passage. Remember, John loved to study contrasts, and this one is very important. It’s very common today to refer to everyone as children of God. Is this true? Well, he has given all of us life and provides for our physical needs, but that doesn’t make us his children. Scripture never teaches that all of us are his children in the spiritual sense. In fact, it teaches us quite the opposite: Since Adam’s fall, all of us are the spiritual progeny of the Enemy, and something has to happen to us to change that. It’s not something that we’re physically born into. All of us were born the physical way: We have parents who. . . you know, and we’re the result of that. That’s what the passage means when it mentions “human decision or a husband’s will.”
So what is this other birth referring to? Well, it’s certainly more than reforming one’s life or changing one’s thought processes. It’s not like changing a political party. It’s a new birth, and it radically transforms us. What we have as Christians is a new nature, one totally different from the one we got from physical birth.
You might be saying, “I know all of this, so what’s your point?” Ok, let’s see if we can apply this. First, this means that we need to stand up to the nonsense that all people are children of God. It’s not so, and we shouldn’t let people believe it. Second, all believers are children of God, and we need to recognize that we have a family connection with every other believer on earth, which transcends skin color, national origin, or economic background. Third, how’s about we stop for a moment of gratitude for the One who's brought us into his family? We really are his children now, and we have this right bought and paid for by the precious blood of our Savior.
Father, I thank you so much for the right to be your child. I know what it cost you, and I so desperately need to show more of a family resemblance. Please help me.