Believing & Receiving in John’s Gospel


Another thread, a very prominent one, is the idea of Believing.    It appears first in John 1:12 and then appears repeatedly through the book.

Also, there are a variety of images or metaphors for belief that fall under ways to “receive”  Christ: Believe, Receive, Drink, Eat, Let in, Come to Christ, Come to Light and so forth.  These, it seems to me, are best read in the light of each other.

Here is a worksheet I will be using in the adult class.  Feel free to take it and follow the threads.

Worksheet – 4.BelievingReceiving

Clearly John presents a biography of Jesus which calls for the response of faith.  The result of faith is to receive eternal life.  Eternal life is not merely a future event (i.e. “going to heaven”) but also a present experience.   The result of not receiving him by faith is to remain under condemnation.

John 20:30-31 NIV – 84

30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

What does it mean to receive Jesus? John 1:12-13

kids-raising-hands    I once taught this idea to a group of kids.  I asked, “What does it mean to receive Jesus?”  One little kid said, “That is when you take the bread at the Mass.”  That was not what I had in mind. I learned to ask better questions after that.

What does John say it means to receive Jesus?  He defines it here in verse 12.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name – he gave the right to become children of God.”

To receive Jesus is to believe in Jesus.

I want to point out something very important in the passage.  It is not to believe things about Jesus.  That is to believe in “information” or perhaps “dogma.”  We are not saved by information or dogma.  We are saved by a person.

Look at these phrases

  • V. 10  “the world did not recognize him
  • V. 11  “his own did not receive him
  • V. 12  “to all who receive him
  • V. 12  “to all who believe  in his name
  • V. 12  “he gave the right to become children of God.”

The words change: recognize, receive, believe, become.  One word does not: “him/he/his”.  In each of these phrases it is about the person of Jesus. It becomes clear if I replace the pronoun with the actual name.

  • V. 10  “the world did not recognize Jesus’
  • V. 11  “Jesus’ own did not receive him’
  • V. 12 “to all who receive Jesus”
  • V. 12 “ to all who believe in Jesus’ name”
  • V. 12 “Jesus gave the right to become children of God.”

Religion, if you want work with that term, or Spirituality if you prefer that, is personal.  John tells us that Jesus (not the idea or the teaching about Jesus or the other spiritualities that are like Jesus) is the true light.  Faith is trust in the person of Jesus.