But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:…
I. These verses DESCRIBE THE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE OF ST. JOHN. In this point of view the order of time is different from the order of the statements. The several steps are these —
1. The apprehension of the glory of Jesus,
2. The receiving Him and believing on His name.
3. The effect of the power to become sons of God.This agrees with the actual experience of the evangelist.
1. He sees Jesus as pointed out by the Baptist. But where was the glory?
(1) That of "the Lamb of God."
(2) The revelation of grace and truth in him. God's infinite love, holiness, justice: His own self-sacrifice.
2. He goes home with Jesus and gave himself up to His gracious influences, believed on His name.
3. What followed we know. He became a son of God.
II. THIS EXPERIENCE DETERMINED THE STRUCTURE, SUBSTANCE, AND SPIRIT OF THE GOSPEL.
1. It serves to account for the subordinate place which miracles and Christ's external life generally hold in it. John's grand purpose, as marked by his own experience, was to illustrate the self-commending glory of Christ as the Word and only-begotten of the Father, that those who had never seen Him with the eye of sense might come to the blessedness of those who had not seen and yet had believed.
2. It serves to account for the prominent place which the inner life of Christ and the manifestation of His Sonship-glory occupies here. The two grand pivots on which the Gospel turns are Christ the LIGHT, and Christ the LIFE. Christ the Light, revealing the Father and all that concerns the Father; Christ the Life, communicating by the Spirit a new life to men so as to make them God's sons. Its twofold purpose is to set forth Christ as the Incarnate Word and Only Begotten, full of grace and truth; and also the reception of Christ, the believing on His name as the commencement of the new life of sonship. Thus it is that so much prominence is given to Christ's relation to the Father on the one hand, and to the fellowship of Christ with His people on the other.
3. From these considerations we see the groundlessness of the objections against the Johannian authorship of the Gospel. Given John's conversion, as here shadowed forth, and his warm, fervid nature, his life of Jesus could not well have been any other than it is.
III. THE MORE GENERAL RELATIONS OF THE SUBJECT, as setting forth the essential glory of Christ and the glory communicated to all who, by receiving Him, become sons of God.
1. What is the connection between the two? That there is a connection is seen in the difference between John and his companions and the mass of the Jews. The one perceived His glory, the other saw it not. To the one He appeared a miserable pretender, to the other the Eternal Son. Moreover they recognized in Him the Saviour that taketh away the sins of the world. They received Him, and then the standing and spirit of sonship became theirs.
2. How is it that this view of Christ's glory is followed by such effects?
(1) By such means we see our emptiness, guilt, and misery.
(2) But He invites us to Him, tells us of His fulness, pardon, grace, asks us to receive Him and let Him put forth His power.
(3) Must we not welcome Him? The blessed change is wrought in the very act of seeking it.
(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: