But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God – John 1:12
When God came to earth in the disguise of the Man Jesus, whose life ended on a cross, people had opposite reactions to Him. One attitude dismissed Him with contempt as the carpenter's son. The other received Him with worship as the Son of God. Let's take a closer look at these divergent reactions.
The first reaction, one of rejection and contempt, is described in Matthew 13. Appropriately enough, in an unmistakable way, it describes the response to Jesus from those in His own hometown of Nazareth.
Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. 'Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? they asked. Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mothers name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Arent all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?' And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them: 'Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honour.' (Matthew 13:54 57)
These people could not see through the disguise. They had known Jesus too long. In a certain sense, they had been too familiar with Him. There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt. The people who, in a sense, had been closest to Him failed to figure out the disguise. He had to go elsewhere to be received.
Let us look now at the opposite reaction. Those who received Him recognized the disguise and realised who He really was.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples: 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied: 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' He asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered: 'You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied: 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven.' (Matthew 16:13 17)
Here was a man who received the revelation of the Father concerning Jesus, a man who looked beyond the superficialities, beyond what was not really important. By the grace of God and the Spirit of God, Peter discerned the true, eternal Son of God, the Messiah, the One for whom the Israelites had been waiting, but whom they failed, as a whole, to recognize.
We still have those two alternatives today. We can react in one way or the other, just as the Israelites could. We need to be mindful of these words from the first chapter of John's gospel:
He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:11 13)
What are you going to do about Jesus? Are you going to reject Him? Or are you going to receive Him? Are you going to look beneath the disguise and see the eternal Son of God? Are you going to worship Him and welcome Him into your life? I pray that you may do this.
An Advent prayer
Lord Jesus, I recognise You to be the eternal Son of God. I don’t want to miss out on You because You’ve become to familiar in our lives. Therefore, help me to recognise You when you enter my life in a disguise. You may come as a stranger, or a homeless person, or a baby, but I want to honour You through them. Help me to recognise You in any storm or trial as the anchor for my soul. You are my Messiah. And I praise You. Amen.
This Advent reflection is taken from Power in the Name by Derek Prince (book)