12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
In a way, it is both heartening and frightening to read what this passage says today. John is telling us that only those who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior can become co-heirs with Christ, and that God alone detrermines who is chosen to become a child of God. John says those who become children of God are not chosen because of their bloodline, nor because of some determination by physical appearance or performance, nor even by being chosen by other men. No, the final determination is made by God and no one else.
Although the Jews were the first to be given the “promise of Abraham”, Paul shows us that the promise of blessing through the Savior was delivered to all.
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
So one need not be Jew, nor circumcised, nor Middle Eastern, nor Israeli, nor Palestinian, nor of any other descent or race. The death of Christ was for the whole world, delivered as a promise to all those who would believe in Him.
Further, those who believe and are chosen are not chosen because of “the will of the flesh” – i.e. due to any physical characteristic. The promise is not just to men but also to women, to short as well as tall, to white as well as brown or black, to healthy as well as ill, to able as well as deformed. Emmanuel did not descend to dwell among the mighty or the rich, but He came to live and to die among the commoners, the laborers, the meek and the sinners. Jesus was not a priest that He might boast of His holiness but a carpenter who understood the temptations of the real world. No worldly status nor shape nor race nor nationality determines whom God will choose as His own.
And finally, it is not the will of men to choose who will be children of God. The Lord God is sovereign Judge, and He alone forgives sins, bestows righteousness, and practices mercy. Yes, we have been given the power to bind and loose things here on earth and in heaven (Matthew 18:18), but forgiveness of sins unto righteousness is still the dominion of God. No priest or pastor or pope or bishop or elder or deacon gets to determine whom God will forgive and permit to believe in His Son. Yes, God wants us to forgive others their sins, but “salvation is of the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9)
It is only the will of God that brings us salvation and mercy, and that is through faith alone – not works, nor blood, nor men. Faith in Christ Jesus, the risen Son of God, is what will determine our fate as children of the living God.
So do not be dismayed at the legalism of men, at their insistence on petty genealogies, nor at their disputes over who gets in and who is left out. Rely instead on your faith in Christ. Be a faithful servant, cling to the Cross, and live a life of fruitful faith. Depend on that promise from Christ that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) And, no matter how left out you may feel because of who you have been, know that through faith in Christ and through God’s abundant mercy, you are transformed and you are no longer a child of man but of God.
Gracious Heavenly Father, we praise You this day for Your Son and Your ever-renewing mercies. We sing Your praises in the streets and churches and our homes, because You have chosen US to be Your children. We boast only in You, Lord God, because our inheritance comes only through You. Increase our faith, Father, and teach us Your ways, so we can further please and exalt You. Amen.