Jesus came to this dark world. He is the light that shines in the darkness. He came to a world that would reject Him, but not everyone rejects.
Today’s verse says: “But those who did receive Him…” The way out of darkness is to receive Him. “…to those who believed…” We receive Him by believing. “…to those who believed in His name…” We are not just to believe that Jesus exists but to believe in His name, that is who He is and what He has done.
So it is not those who casually acknowledge that Jesus was born 2000 years ago, it is not those who attend church sometimes, it is not those who say their prayers, it is those who have received Jesus as He is, who believe Him as He is, God the Son who took on human flesh and lived and died in our place and rose again. To receive Jesus, to believe in His name is to take Jesus at His word, to trust Him as Saviour and to turn from the darkness of this world, and the darkness in your life, and to submit to Him.
Praise God today that salvation is so gracious. The verse could have said: “To those who did good works.” True Christians do good works, but it is not the good works that save. The verse could have said: “To those who are religious.” There were lots of religious people in Jesus’ day, but they were not saved, they rejected Him because they trusted their religion. The verse could have said: “To those who are passionate to fight the enemy.” There were lots of passionate people in Jesus’ day, who wanted to Romans out of Judah, but they did not recognise the real battle was in their own hearts – the real darkness is not in the Romans (or in capitalism or communism); the real darkness is in our hearts. This is why we need to receive Him.
The verse is an encouragement also: “Those” who received Him. That is what your neighbours need, your work colleagues need, your family need. They need to receive Him. It may seem impossible, but nothing is impossible with God. They may seem far from God today, but they simply need to receive Christ by faith.
Pray today for God to work in those who are still in darkness. As the Christmas Carol says: “Where meek souls will receive Him, still the dear Christ enters in.”