A few weeks ago, I was reading a very familiar passage of scripture, and one of the verses concerning Jesus started to gnaw at me.
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:11 ESV)
That verse seems fairly straightforward, but it isn’t. Throughout his gospel record, John clearly makes the case for Jesus being the promised Messiah, but the Jewish leaders of the day did not recognize Him as their Messiah. That’s the first problem, but there’s more.
Without getting too far ahead of myself and delving into the full context of the surrounding verses, John described Jesus in a very unique way, putting Him on equal footing with the God of the Old Testament.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 ESV)
The Jewish leaders were expecting a messiah described as a messenger from God Who would set them free from their oppressors and rule with righteousness (Isaiah 42). They were not expecting God Himself. That’s the second problem.
Over the next several weeks, OneSource Ministries will produce videos and articles clearly identifying why John declared, “He [God] came to His own [the Jews], and His own people did not receive Him.”
So, let’s get into it…
Let me start by saying I’m a firm believer that scripture should always interpret scripture. God’s Word stands on its own merits. That means we will not deviate from the central tenets taught by Jesus or found in the Old Testament.
John may have equated Jesus (the Word) to God, but that doesn’t diminish the supremacy of God the Father.
You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. John 14:28 (ESV)
Jesus clearly acknowledged the supremacy of God the Father, and while promising to send His followers a Helper in His absence, He also clearly validated the doctrine of a triune godhead.
“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 ESV)
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5 ESV)
Despite the hierarchy of authority Jesus identified, the clear lines of authority between Father and Son are sometimes blurred in scripture, even as it pertains to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Peter (Acts 2) and Paul (Romans 6) both confirm Jesus was raised by the power and glory of God the Father.
This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. (Acts 2:32 ESV)
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4 ESV)
But, Jesus claimed the power of the resurrection was granted to Him.
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18 ESV)
Peter and Paul weren’t contradicting Jesus. Jesus was providing breadcrumbs of discovery. Look at what He says in one of the most popular passages in the New Testament.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
Jesus wasn’t offering a simple faith building statement for His followers when He declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He was making a definitive statement. That’s why He was able to tell them, “Observe all that I have commanded you.” Jesus’ authority was recognized by those who heard Him teach.
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29 ESV)
That affirmation of Jesus’ authority was given immediately after the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus made declarations concerning Jewish law without qualifiers or modifiers: “You have heard…but I say” (Matthew 5:21-48). Immediately after those declarations, He also called out the Jewish leaders (Matthew 6:1-18), who ultimately questioned His authority.
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23 ESV)
As John said, “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.”
In the next installment of this series, we’ll explore how God revealed Himself in the Old Testament, so we can build the framework for why John said Jesus came to “His own” and why the Jewish leaders accused Him of blasphemy.
You can also watch the entire video (below) or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud.