The Oldest Family.
"But," John goes on. That was a steadying "but." It was hard on John to recall how they treated his Friend and Master. But there is a "but." There's another aide, an offset to what he's been saying, a bright bit to offset the black bit. But as many as did receive Him. Some received. Jesus was rejected, yes, abominably, contemptibly rejected. But He was also accepted, gladly, joyously, wholeheartedly accepted, even though it came to mean pain and shame.

As many as received Him, John says, He received into His family. The conception of a family and of a home where the family lives, runs all through underneath here. They would not receive this Jesus because He didn't belong to the inner circle of the old families which they represented. They regarded themselves as the custodians of the exclusive aristocratic circles of Jerusalem. And Jerusalem was the upper circle of Israel.

And every one knew that Israel was the chiefest, the one uppermost nation, of the earth, with none near enough to be classed second. They were the favourites of God, all the rest were "dogs of Gentiles," outsiders, not to be mentioned in the same breath. To these national leaders of Jesus' day, this was the very breath of their life.

"And this Jesus!" They spat on the ground to relieve the intensity of their contempt. "Who was He? A peasant! a Galilean! Nazareth!" Nazareth was put in as a sort of superlative degree of contempt. Of course, they could easily have found out about the lineage of Jesus. In the best meaning of the word, Jesus was an aristocrat. Apart from its philological derivation that word means one who traces his lineage back through a worthy line for a long way, and so one who has the noble traits of such lineage. In the best meaning of the word Jesus was an aristocrat. His line traced back without slip or break to the great house of David, and that meant clear back to Adam. The records were all there, carefully preserved, indisputable. They could easily have found this out.

I recall talking one day in London with a gentle lady of an old, titled Scottish family, an earnest Christian, trained in the Latin Church. In the course of the conversation she remarked, "Of course, Jesus was a peasant." And I replied as gently as I could so as not to seem to be arguing, "Of course, He was not a peasant. He chose to live as a peasant, for a great strong purpose. But He was an aristocrat in blood. His family line traced directly back through the noblest families clear to the beginning. No one living had a longer unbroken lineage. And that is the very essence of aristocracy."

In some circles, they count much, or most, on old families. In certain cities of our own country, east and south, this is reckoned as the hall-mark of highest distinction. When one goes across the water to England and the Continent, he finds the old families of America are rather young affairs. And as he pushes on into the East, some of the old families of Europe sometimes seem fairly recent. I remember in the Orient running across a family where the father had been a Shinto priest, father and son successively, through forty-five generations; and another where the father of the family has been successively a court-musician for thirty-eight generations. I thought maybe I had run into some really old families at last.

I come of a rather old family myself. It runs clear back without break or slip to Adam in Eden. I've not bothered much with tracing it, for there are some pretty plain evidences of ugly stains on the family escutcheon, running all through, and repeatedly. And then even more than that I've become intensely interested in another family, an older family, the oldest family of all. Arrangements have been made whereby I have been taken into this oldest family of all with full rights and privileges. My claims to aristocracy are now of the very highest, with all the noble obligations that go with it. That's what John is talking of here. As many as received Him, He received into His family, the oldest family of all.

These people refused Jesus because He didn't belong to their set. In their utterly selfish prejudice and wilful ignorance, these leaders shut Him out from the circles they controlled. But with great graciousness He received into His circle any, of any circle, high or low, who would receive Him into their hearts. To as many as received Him into their hearts He opened the door into His own family. He gave them the technical right of becoming children of His Father.

Their part of the thing is put very simply in two ways. They believed. They were told, they listened and thought, they accepted as true, they risked what they counted most precious, they loved. So they believed. And so they received. The door opened, the inner door, the heart door. He went in. That settled things for them. When He graciously entered their hearts, the inner citadel of their lives, that settled their place in this oldest family of all.

he came to his own
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