"But as many as received Him, to them he gave power to become Children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were begotten not of blood, nor of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God." [John 1:12-13]
[Our parish is being encouraged to read the Gospel of Jon during the Pentecostarion period. If we read 1/2 chapter a day plus the remainder (about 2 chapters) the day before Ascension, we will finish in forty days. On Bright Monday, the suggested reading is John 1:1-28, on Tuesday the rest of the chapter (through verse 51)]
The following is a prayerful meditation on some part of the first "assigned" reading. REMEMBER – read the scripture to apply it to yourself. This is all important. There may be parts you do not understand, but there will always be something that touches your heart if you read it prayerfully.
If you have comments about this verse or another in this selection (John 1:1-28), please add them in the comments, or email them to me.
CHRIST IS RISEN!
In one sense we can say we are not children of God, but that we are becoming children of God. Of course, the Theologian explicitly states that we are given the power to "become". This implies we are not finished with the transition from being a child of the world (and the Devil) to a child of God. This is a continual, stepwise process.
So the question is at what point would we become fully children of God and what is this process. To be a child of God is to be *fully* human, as Jesus Christ is human. This is a process, and it takes place over our lifetime. We are constantly *becoming*. This is not a foregone conclusion. We have the power, give by Christ through baptism, and we then must "take our bed and be walking".
If we "receive" Christ, we must obey Him. We also must learn about him ("take My yoke upon me and learn of me…"). This learning is not in the head, but in the heart. Our wonderful task is to become like the God-man Jesus Christ, and follow his example, which is well laid out in the Gospels and the lives of his beloved ones, the Saints.
The Theologian states that those born of God are not born of:
blood – I take this to mean by human birth.
the flesh – This may also be human birth, but I take it to mean that the ways of the flesh – our passions, bad priorities, and earthbound desires and practices will never lead us to heaven.
nor the will of man – I take this to mean that MY WILL will never lead me to God. I must give my will to God, and so His will if I am to become a child of God. My will does not work, it is unreliable, and dangerous. God's will is perfect, and leads to perfect peace.
May God grant that we receive Him in every way and become fully children of God!
Priest Seraphim Holland 2013 St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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My thoughts on these verses:
None of us chooses to come into being. Our conception and birth occur as a result of the desires and wills of our parents. Even if our coming into being was not planned, expected or desired, human will, desire and action was involved.
But John describes a new kind of birth, a birth not of flesh or of man's actions, but a birth of spirit and of God. Like a newborn infant that has been brought into the world, this new Life, given to us through faith in Jesus Christ, now gives us the power, the potential, to grow into true sons of God.
In one sense a son is a son from the moment of his birth. An adopted son is considered a son when he is adopted by his parents. But to become a full son the boy must grow beyond infancy and childhood and become like his father.
We have been born into the family of God, we have been adopted as His children and, God willing, we will one day be like our Father. So those who are growing in Christ have become, are, and one day will be, sons and daughters of God.
The two verse that really struck me were verses 7: "The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe." and verse 9: "That was the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." I would be interested in Patristic commentary on these verses. The words that I would like to understand better in their original linguistic context and meaning are: "might believe" in verse 7 ('might believe' as in a possibility of belief or 'might believe' as in to be given the power to believe?) and "lighteth" and "every man" in verse 9.
I understand that we have free will that can lead us into such darkness that, even when the light is shining into our darkness, we will not comprehend it (v. 5). But I am also interested in what these verses may have to say about how the Lord addresses that darkness.
An example related to my question about the meaning of 'might believe' in verse 7:
The English word 'might' is the past tense of the word 'may'. But in English it is used in different ways. If I say "You may come to my house." I could either mean that you have been granted access to my house (i.e. you are allowed to come) or I could mean that you might possibly, but not necessarily, come to my house.