If you grew up in the 1950’s, 60’s, or 70’s, you may remember the weekly TV series entitled “Dragnet”. It was a story of crime investigation and prevention in Los Angeles. If you’ve ever watched that TV series, you may also remember these immortal words often said by the straight-faced police officer, Joe Friday: “Just the facts, ma’am . . . All we want are the facts, ma’am . . . All we know are the facts, ma’am.”
Here in verses 9-11 the apostle John is giving us “just the facts”, the plain and simple facts about the God-man, Jesus Christ. There is much more to the picture, but for now John wants us to think about and examine “just the facts”.
I. THE TRUE LIGHT (verse 9)
Referring to Jesus Christ, John makes a simple, true, and profound statement: “This was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” The word “true” is the Greek word aleithinon, which can also mean genuine, real, valid, trustworthy and reliable. It refers to truth in contrast to appearance. It is a timeless truth because it has always been true. He is referring to someone whose words we can trust with complete confidence. You would think that we would always want to hear the truth, plain and simple. But as we shall see, that is not always so. Jesus often used the words, “Truly, truly, I say to you”. He could use those words because everything He said was true, and every prophesy He made has come to pass or will come to pass exactly as He predicted it.
Jesus “enlightens every man“. Only Jesus can be the light to every person. He is the true light not only to the Jews, not only to the Christians, not only to the wealthy and respectable, but also to every single person on this planet. He is the light to every man because every man is lost and in darkness without Him. Job 12:25 says, “They grope in darkness with no light”. Try closing your eyes tightly. Now cup one hand over your eyes, and then cup the other hand over that hand. Pretty scary, isn’t it? It’s especially scary if you don’t know where you are; if you’re somewhere you’ve never been before.
But this is not the case. God has taken the initiative to reveal Himself to us. Just look at the world around you. The order, beauty, and complexity of our universe points very clearly to a Creator (Romans 1:19-20). He has left His fingerprints, so to speak, all around us. I personally don’t understand how a person can look at this world and at himself, and yet call himself an atheist or an agnostic. God has done everything possible to make Himself known to us. In His Word, the Scriptures, He has revealed Himself personally and intimately. By the way, I think that many who call themselves “agnostics” are actually “atheists in disguise”. They “don’t know” because they really don’t want to know; but they want to give the impression that they are still seeking answers and searching. I hope that you are not in either of those two categories. If you are, I hope and pray that God is making His presence known to you now. Belief is a choice. Let’s make sure we base our beliefs on facts, not just on our own personal preferences.
II. UNKNOWN BY THE WORLD (verse 10)
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” This verse is apparently referring to Christ, the “Logos”, before He took on human form. It might also include the thirty silent years before Jesus began His public ministry.
From as far back in history as Genesis 1, God’s creation chose to worship other gods. After being tempted by Satan, Adam and Eve chose to worship their own gods: themselves! They turned their backs to the God who created them. Throughout the Old Testament we find the people that God created choosing to worship gods of wood and stone which they formed with their own hands, rather than the Creator-God. As the apostle Paul said: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God . . . and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures . . . and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator . . .”. (Romans 1:21-25)
This must have grieved the heart of God. It would be much worse than the feeling you might have if somebody walked past you on a daily basis, saw you clearly, heard your greeting, yet ignored you, treating you as if you didn’t exist. In spite of the enlightenment given by God, men chose to reject that knowledge.
III. UNWANTED BY HIS OWN (verse 11)
What about the nation of Israel? How did they respond to the coming of Jesus Christ? Verse 11 says, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” The term “His own” literally means “His own things”, not “His own people”, as Christians are called. The nation of Israel is His as a man’s house and lands and goods are his own, and which he uses and possesses. But believers are His as a man’s wife and children are his own, whom he loves and enjoys. God had been preparing the Jewish people for His coming for centuries. The prophets had foretold it. But Jesus was not the kind of Messiah they wanted. The prophet Isaiah gives us this prophetic description of Jesus from the perspective of the Jewish nation: “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised and we did not esteem Him.” (Isaiah 53:3)
We see a similar pattern in the Old Testament. Joseph had a special relationship with his father Jacob, and Jacob made him a coat of many colors. Joseph also had a special relationship with God, and God spoke to him in dreams which he shared with his family. The result was that his brothers envied him. hated him, and sold him as a slave (Genesis 37).
Early in Jesus’ ministry we sense a spirit of prejudice against Him. “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary”. He had what was considered a poor-person’s job and came from a poor family. Nathanael said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Jesus came from a “bad neighborhood”. In addition, the prophet may be implying that Jesus was not a physically attractive person, not only at his death but also during His life (Isaiah 52:3). He may have been called names such as “ugly”. We don’t know. He had nothing going for Him economically, socially, or physically.
Rejection hurts, doesn’t it? Have you ever struggled with rejection? Are you experiencing rejection at this time? The Lord Jesus knows what you are going through. He’s been through it Himself.