Monday, June 28, 2010

John's Gospel - 4

John points to a bit of irony. The Word is the creator of all and yet when the Word shows up He is not recognized as such. That gets worse when the Jews are singled out. He came to them and yet they did not receive Him. Note that John makes a general statement about a group even though there were exceptions. General statements are allowed as long as they are generally true. That the Jews did not receive Jesus is a fact even though, at first, His only followers were Jewish.

Note the language of 'receive Him'. It is equated with 'believe in His name', that is, believe Him to be who He really is, to believe in Him in terms of how His name describes Him. John will go on to reveal His name in the rest of his Gospel. The result of such belief: the right or power or authority [the word has been translated in each of these ways] to become children of God. Here, the goal is sonship, not forgiveness or getting into heaven or avoiding hell. This is not vague.

The question to ask at this point: 'Why does John put this result in terms of sonship as opposed to the many other ways that salvation is described in Scripture?' Sonship has an OT background. One OT place for 'children of God' is Hosea 1.10. That points back to a place like Deuteronomy 14.1, 'You are sons of YHWH your God.' There's also Isaiah 1.2 and Deuteronomy 32.5,6,8. And there must be other places. So, the Jews, who were children of God in light of these OT passages, were not children of God in light of what John has written here. Which is it? When the Word arrived, were they children of God or not? The resolution of that tension will help us to understand more clearly what it means for us to be children of God.

Whatever else is included in the notion of being the children of God, the fact of God's deep affection for us must be at the top. Fatherly affection is a key part of God's attitude to us. This explains His sometimes tough discipline and His difficult rules of living. These are His expressions of affections. As hard as life might get, I must cling to the fact of God's deep affection for me as His son. Believing that will define how I will deal with the difficulties facing me.

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