A New Right

To become children of God.

John 1:10–13 (NIV)

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or of a husband’s will, but born of God.

Incarnation is strange. The world doesn’t recognize its creator when He steps inside it. His own (the Jews) don’t recognize him either. Some do, but it’s far from universal.

John states this bluntly to emphasize the contrast. You might expect the world to recognize its creator when He shows up in person. That it didn’t is a profound insight into the extreme nature of incarnation. The creator, once inside His creation, isn’t obvious.

You might also expect His people to recognize Him when He’s right in front of their faces. With his own, it’s not exactly a failure to recognize; it’s a failure to receive. The difference may not seem significant, but remember that the demons recognized Him just fine—receptive, not so much.

But to the ones who did receive Him, he gave the right to become children of God. Right? They gain a right? Why describe it that way?

The word translated as “right” here (exousia) means right, authority, ability, power. In other words, the action of becoming children of God isn’t complete, but it’s enabled.

And what is enabled is spectacular—to become children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or of a husband’s will, but born of God.

John still hasn’t used the word Jesus, yet he has already nailed down the entire gospel with incredible precision.

This being born of God, becoming children of God, is everything to a Christian. We want this for ourselves as well as for everyone we love. Actually, we want it for everyone, whether we love them or not. Unfortunately, most people think of this in selfish terms.

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” — Mark 10:17

That’s not completely wrong; it just misses the point about what eternal life encompasses. It’s more than an inheritance.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. — John 5:24

Eternal life begins now, and with it comes the ability to see.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.