But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.
Christmas is almost fully revealed to us on this Eleventh Day. Epiphany is day after tomorrow with further revelation: magi with gifts, baptism and John.
The creator became a man and came and lived with us. We saw Him, but many of us did not know Him. Humans have withdrawn from creation and the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. We are governed by the desires of the mob for pleasure and entertainment and so degrade creation for short affluence. Worse are the rulers, like those in the time of Jesus, who set up their own world order to maintain their power. When they hear of the Star of Bethlehem, such men fear for their own rule and seek to kill Christ and end Christmas.
That’s bad, but many do receive Him, more than we know. Billions now living believe “on His name” as best they can. The result is a return to the natural order: God in His Heaven and all is right with the (real) world. This restoration after a horrific interregnum makes heirs to the throne of us all.
There is a problem with the KJV translation here. Saint John uses a word here that is most commonly translated “child” and not “son.” As the Word Biblical Commentary notes, Saint Paul makes us sons of God, but Saint John reserves being “son of God” for Christ alone.* We can all become a child of God: anyone, any place, any time, in any condition. We do not need magic words, talisman, or rituals.
We need only have trust or faith in His name. Saint John has called the Jesus the Logos of God: the divine Word. Faith is not merely rational, but it is reasonable. A person might trust in a friend to pay a bill, because she knows the friend. She will have the money and the character to pay what she owes. Another might trust a leader to govern wisely: he has shown good judgment in the past. Saint John says that if we have trust or faith in Jesus, then Jesus will makes us children of God.
We begin by receiving Him. The experience of Jesus, then leads to Jesus giving us the power (or ability) to believe. Experience of Jesus makes the rational acceptance of Jesus (trust, faith) in His name possible. If a person has been trustworthy, it is reasonable to think He is trustworthy. Becoming a child of God is available to anyone who persists in an authentic experience of Jesus.
Christ is born!
*Saint Paul was working in a classical Roman world where sons were heirs to the family name and property. Any of us can be become sons of God, heirs to the throne of High Heaven! Any of us can, if we believe on His name, be adopted as a son. As my mother once said to me, she will gladly become a “son of God,” if I will acknowledge myself as the “Bride of Christ.”
A Christmas series on John 1: 1-14 (Links will not be active until the piece is published. All active by January 5, 2019).