He Came to His Own
Read – John 1:1-13
Key Verse – He came to His own… (John 1:11).
Key Thought – The baby of Christmas was and is God, who took the initiative and came to us, because we are His and He wants a relationship with us.
Usually, at Christmas time, we find ourselves in Luke 2,
+ talking about the decree of Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed
+ or Joseph going from Nazareth to Bethlehem, for he was of the house and lineage of David
+ or of the fact that while they were in Bethlehem, the days were completed for her to be delivered and she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes,
+ or that shepherds were in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks when an angel stood before them and told them “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
+ or that suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God
+ or that the shepherds “came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger.”
If we’re not in Luke 2 at Christmas time, we’re often in Matthew 1-2 reading about
+ Joseph and Mary’s betrothal
+ and Mary’s unbelievable pregnancy before she and Joseph were married
+ and the angel’s even more unbelievable announcement that her pregnancy was an act of the Holy Spirit and she would bring forth a Son, and call His name Jesus, for He would save His people from their sins,
+ and wise men came from the east to worship Him,
+ following a star to the place where He was,
+ and offering gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the young King.
That’s where we usually go at Christmas time. But I don’t want to hear from Matthew or Luke this morning. I’d like to give some thought to John’s explanation of these events. He didn’t speak at all about any of the events we just mentioned, but he said some things that explain what was really going on in all that activity.
May I draw your attention to one verse – He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). And bear with me as I narrow our scope even further – He came to His own. What an amazing statement, starting with the very first word which we dare not skip past:
One cannot properly understand what happened there in that manger, without contemplating this word – HE. Just who was He, anyway? WHO was in that manger?
Ask the man in the street who Jesus was, and you’ll often hear things like, “He was a great teacher… a martyr for His cause… a wonderful example… a good man… a tragic figure who died way too young.” If I were to ask even in this crowd here this morning, the first description from some here might well be, “He was a good moral teacher.”
But is that who He was… who He is? Hear the words C.S. Lewis wrote some years ago about that very thought:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Indeed. John certainly considered Him more than a great moral teacher. Consider some of the things he said about Him:
He was the Word (vs. 1). That might seem an odd name for Him, but when we read another passage it becomes pretty clear what John was saying. Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:11-16NKJV). When John called Him the Word, that’s what he was talking about. He was saying that:
He was the eternal one… He was in the beginning… in the beginning with God (vss. 1-2).
He was one with God… He was not only WITH God… He WAS God (vs. 1).
He was the creator (vs. 3)… of ALL things. NOTHING was made without Him.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians about *… God who created all things through Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 3:9 NKJV)*
And to the church at Colossae he wrote, For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16 NKJV)
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1-2 NKJV)
That’s Who that little baby was – the maker of worlds, the creator of all things.
He was the source of life (vs. 4)…
*… and light* (vs. 5)
That babe, depicted lying so peacefully in so many nativity scenes, was and is the everlasting, eternal, God man. He created you! Think of it. I wonder if Mary and Joseph comprehended it as they held their very creator in their arms… their Savior… their King! That baby is the One from whom all life comes. He is the source of all light (Literally – sun, moon, stars, and more broadly – the light of knowledge, understanding, wisdom, reason, logic, justice, etc.).
Isn’t it amazing that John could capture so much truth in one word… two letters – HE?
He is the reason for the season. Unless we get a grasp in our heart and mind of who He is, we’ll never understand Christmas.
A couple years ago we said goodbye to a dear old friend of this church – George Hanlin. Brother George looms large in my childhood memories of this place, for he was ever here… ever busy… ever serving… ever a part of God’s work in this little church. One thing George did, and did well, was sing. I especially remember him singing these words:
He can turn the tides and calm the angry sea;
He alone decides who writes a symphony;
He lights every star that makes the darkness bright;
He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night;
He can grant a wish or make a dream come true;
He can paint the clouds and turn to gray the blue;
He alone is there to find a rainbow’s end;
He alone can see what lies beyond the bend;
He can touch a tree and turn the leaves to gold;
He knows every lie that you and I have told.(Source: LyricFind, Songwriters: Jack Richards / Richard Mullan)
John had more to say, though:
Brother Jeff and I were talking a bit Wednesday evening during praise team rehearsal, and we were discussing the word “Emmanuel” – another of those words we hear a lot of this time of year. I mentioned to him that I think it is one of the most musical words in the Bible. Can you think of any single word that has inspired more music or song? In our Christmas program this year we have several different songs all based on that word “Emmanuel”.
It is a word that even sounds musical… it just flows from the lips.
But the sound of the word is not at all what makes it special. Rather, it is the meaning of the word about which we sing, for the word means “God with us.”
Matthew, in his gospel, quoted the prophet Isaiah, ”Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Matthew1:23).
It’s amazing that the babe was God. It’s equally amazing, perhaps more so, that He CAME to be with us… that He was and is Emmanuel. He did not come to tell us of a God far off, but rather of a God that is near… right here… with us.
He CAME. He took the initiative. He reached down to where we were. He did not leave us without hope, but when He saw our plight, He brought the solution to us. He came. He CAME.
You know that right there is the major difference between Christianity and every other religion on earth. Every other belief system is basically about us trying to reach God. If we do enough good works… if we sacrifice enough… if we perform the right religious rituals… if we live a clean enough life… God will see our good works and let us into heaven. Many many religions are similar to Islam, which teaches that at the end of your life your good deeds will be weighed against your sins, and if the good outweighs the bad, you’ll have a chance at getting into heaven.
But Christianity is the opposite. It’s not us working to please God… or performing our religious duties flawlessly… or sacrificing more than the next guy… or really anything we might do. It’s not about us reaching up to God in any way, but rather it’s about Him reaching down to us! He CAME.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14 NKJV).
He took the initiative. He came. This is a thought so far beyond astonishing that it exceeds the limits of my frail stammering tongue. I cannot describe it. What an amazing moment, when He came.
The Son of God came down and laid aside His crown
Born without great renown, this Sovereign One
All holiness and might, all glory shining bright
Have come to earth this night in Mary’s son
O come, let us adore
O Christ the Lord, our hope and Savior
Son of God yet made like us
O Christ the Lord, our King adored
Born a child, our Lord Jesus(Sovereign Grace Music)
Astonishing. He came. He… GOD… came! You’ll never get Christmas if you don’t get this. He came… from heaven to earth… from riches to squalor… from glory to humiliation. He came.
But John STILL isn’t done. He said one more thing we need to see this morning:
He came TO HIS Own
Let’s notice the entire verse again: He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11).
I think most of the time when I read that, my mind’s eye fixes on the last part of the verse. He came to a people that did not receive Him. Even though He came, He was rejected by those to whom He came. Many passages teach this same sad truth: And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony (John 3:32 NKJV). For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him (Isaiah 53:2-3 NKJV).
We need only fast forward to the end of the gospels to be reminded of how so many rejected the Savior… turned against Him… nailed Him to a cross… watched Him die… laid Him in a grave.
But I notice something else in this passage that I want to stress this morning… something that we must see if we’re going to really understand the breathtaking beauty of Christmas. He came TO HIS OWN. Meditate on that last phrase just a moment. He came TO HIS OWN.
I am not a fan of social media, really, and grow less so each day. But when I do spend some time lurking around on Facebook, I have noticed something that makes me sad. There are a lot of lonely people on social media… a lot of people who send cries of loneliness out into the Facebook space. I read things like, “I wonder if there is anybody on here that really cares about me.” Have you ever read those kind of plaintive posts? Have you ever typed such words into your computer? Have you ever thought such words, even if you didn’t actually type them out?
Oh if so, please read those words again – He came to HIS OWN. You are not alone. You are not without purpose. You are the precious possession and beloved treasure of God.
I don’t care who you are or what you have done… I don’t care what kind of mistakes you have made… I don’t care what sins you struggle with… what addictions enslave you… what hurts you have caused to others… none of that matters. No matter who you are and where you are in life, You are HIS OWN, and He came for you.
We live in a day when science and technology has been elevated above God in many peoples’ minds. Our children are taught (actually brainwashed) in the school systems, that there is no God… that they are the product of millions of years of evolution… that they are really no different than a rock, that a chance coming together of elements brought about their existence… that they came from nothing and go back to nothing when they die. They hear these words and learn from them that there is no meaning to life… it is just random chance. They learn that there is no hope for a future, for when they die they will just rot in the ground and return to the elements from which they came. What point dreams? They die with you. What hope for the future? The future ends when breathing ends. What reason for anything? Why try anything?
Oh, but maybe I’m stretching John’s words here a bit when I see something so very different in them. Jesus came to HIS OWN. I am not without purpose, and neither are you. I am His. You belong to Him. He created you to be His… He created you that He might have a relationship with you. He LOVES you!
Notice what John said in the very next verse – But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become CHILDREN OF GOD, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12 NKJV).
You need not be alone. You need not wonder if anybody cares about you. You need not look into a future without hope. You need not think that this life is all there is and then nothing. NO… a thousand times no… you can look to a future filled with love and hope and joy because YOU ARE HIS! You are His own precious treasure, that He loved enough to come for… to redeem to be His own.
Norman J. Clayton wrote the hymn we sing often:
Jesus, my Lord will love me forever,
From Him no pow’r of evil can sever,
He gave His life to ransom my soul;
Now I belong to Him;
Once I was lost in sin’s degradation,
Jesus came down to bring me salvation,
Lifted me up from sorrow and shame,
Now I belong to Him;
Joy floods my soul for Jesus has saved me,
Freed me from sin that long had enslaved me
His precious blood, He gave to redeem,
Now I belong to Him;
Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.(Source: Musixmatch, Songwriters: Norman J. Clayton)
This thought is all through the Bible. In the Old Testament we see God calling the children of Israel His precious treasure, and then we see the same thought being applied to all peoples when we come to the New Testament:
For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 14:2 NKJV)
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. (Isaiah 43:1 NKJV)
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15 NKJV)
*… because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:5-6 NKJV)*
That little word “Abba” paints an amazing picture. It is a term of endearment between a father and his child. It means “daddy” or “papa.” My little grandson Jericho calls me Papa, and I love it when he does, for it is an endearing reminder that we have a special relationship.
Jesus came TO HIS OWN. I can’t stress enough that if you don’t get this thought firmly in your mind… that He came for YOU… that you are HIS TREASURE… that all He did He was willing to do FOR YOU… if you don’t get that wonderful truth you just won’t understand what Christmas is all about.
He came to His own… (John 1:11).
HE came to his own. The very Son of God… the creator… the Lord… the King… HE came.
He CAME to His own. He did not wait for us to find Him. He did not give up on us when we turned our backs on Him. He knew we were dust. He knew we were lost. He knew we were without hope. And so He CAME to His own.
He came to HIS OWN. He created us to be His special treasure… to have a deep and lasting and personal relationship with Him. He came to US… to ME… to YOU… we are HIS.
He came to His own… (John 1:11).