John 1:6-13: The Story of Us
To listen on podcast click here.
What’s your story? Let me tell you one of mine.
When I was a very young child, I lived in a mining town that had a lot of shops that sold exotic looking rock specimens. One day I saw one that I really liked in the shop window. I asked my parents if they would buy it for me. They said no. But they did say that if I did some jobs for them I could earn the money to buy it. And so I did. I am not sure who got the best end of the bargain (it was a very cheap rock) but I learnt some things about the need to work hard for things you want and hard work deserves a reward.
These ideas became part of my story. I have lots of other stories that help to explain who I am. We all do. Individuals, peoples, nations, have stories that say something about who they are and what they stand for.
Stories of success, shame, rejection, and acceptance.
Stories we have to live up to or stories we have to live down.
Stories we make for ourselves and stories that are thrust upon us.
Our world is storied: there are big stories playing out all around us: capitalism, socialism; colonialism, hedonism, materialism, consumerism, and many other “isms”. There are small stories told every day.
What's your story?
John 1:1-5 tells a God’s story in broad outline: a Word that made a world; a light shining in the darkness; the darkness not overcoming it. John 1:6-13 takes that cosmic story and retells it in a narrower focus, so we see our own story a little more clearly.
In vv 6-8 John testifies that the true light was coming into the world.
In v 9, we hear that this light, Jesus, was in the world he created but was not recognised.
In v 10 that this light came to his own place and his own people did not receive him.
Jesus’ story in the Gospel as he comes to the people of Israel is the story of the world. Ignorance and rejection are the two reactions…it was the case in ancient Israel; it happened in Jesus’ time; it is still the same today. It is the same old story, repeated over and over again, as the light shines in the darkness.
But the darkness has not overcome it.
In John 1:12-13 we are told that, to all who believe, whoever they are, they are given the power, the right to be known as God’s children. This is the good news at the centre of these opening verses. Verse 13 tells how a person becomes a child of God. It is not through human action or human desire, or human will. Rather it is God’s doing. It is all through his will and action.
The rest of the Gospel will explore this, but John is telling us here that we can become children of God and that this is by grace: that salvation and the right to become a child of God are the sheer gift of God. If we are followers of Jesus, this our story. Once we walked in darkness, now we walk in light. Once we were far from God, and now we have been brought near. Once we were ignorant and rejected God, now we are his children. And all of this by grace as Jesus, the Word, the light, the source of life works out the will of the Father.
Thank God for his grace towards us which means that as God rewrites our story, as we find our place in his grand story, we can be children of God.
God our Father, you redeem us and make us your children in Christ. Look on us, give us true freedom and bring us to the inheritance you promised. Grant this through our Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (AAPB, 252)