11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 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. (John 1:11–13, NKJV)
Jesus came to the Jewish people, and they rejected Him as the Messiah. But, their refusal to receive Him did not prevent God from declaring Jesus to be Lord and Christ (Psa. 2:1-7; Acts 2:33-37). Now, everyone who receives Him has been given the right to become a child of God. It is precisely those who “believe in His name” that have the right to be born of God to become His child. Some have this verse 12 all wrong. They think it says, “receive + believe = become.” They use this verse to say you should pray for salvation, but nothing is said of prayer here. The verse actually says, “received Him (believed) = right to become” children of God. If you receive Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God (that is, you believe it), then you have the right to become a child of God. That truth is embedded perfectly into the call of the gospel at the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15-16). You have the right to become a child of God when you receive (believe) He is the Christ, the Son of God. But, without faith you cannot be saved (Jno. 8:23-24).
5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, 6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” (Acts 4:5–7, NKJV)
We do not possess the way to heaven within ourselves. (Jeremiah said, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps,” Jer. 10:23.) The unbelieving Jewish rulers, who had seized Peter and John, questioned them about the power or name by which they had healed a lame man (Acts 3:1-10). We should question ourselves “by what power, or by what name” we teach and practice what we do. We are under divine instruction to do so: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). We must have Christ’s authority endorsing what we teach and what we do, otherwise, we are acting from our own will, not His. The New Testament is Christ’s complete final authority (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 14:37; Jude 3). By following His word we act under His authority (in His name). Let the word of Christ be the final word in your life, today and every day.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29, NKJV)
Following Jesus does not mean, as many appear to envision, recklessly living as one pleases, confident that no matter what they do Jesus will take them home to heaven in the end. (Once saved, always saved is not the gospel of Jesus, Heb. 10:26-31.) To follow Jesus one must take His yoke (an instrument of control, direction and service) upon himself. No longer guided by selfish, sinful pleasures or thoughtless, godless deeds, we must let Jesus teach us a life of service under His yoke of training and guidance. The metaphor of a yoke indicates submission to the authority of Christ. His authority is not oppressive, but liberating, as it frees us from sin’s bondage. Living and serving under His authority brings rest to souls wearied by sin. Commit yourself to let Christ rule your life. Learn His ways. Live as His servant. Discover rest for your soul.
23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” 24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”… (Matthew 21:23–25, NKJV)
It is not an unreasonable question, except for the fact that Jesus had shown them time and time again that His words and His deeds were by the authority of heaven. Just the day before, in the very place where Jesus drove out the defilers of God’s temple, He had healed the blind and the lame (Matt. 21:12-14). Still, they refused to believe (Jno. 12:37-41). Jesus has given ample proof that He is the Christ, the Son of God. All authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). It is your choice whether or not you will follow heaven’s authority by submitting to Jesus in obedient faith. By what authority do you live? Whose authority do you honor and obey; heaven’s or men’s? Choose wisely, for your choice has eternal consequences. Yield to the authority of heaven, and follow the Lord Jesus in all things (Col. 3:17).
28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28–29, ESV)
Jesus was not merely a good man with good philosophies. He was “from above” and is the Son of God (Jno. 8:23; 10:30, 36). We will die in our sins unless we believe this (Jno. 8:24). He spoke with the authority of heaven, not by citing other men to approve His words. This is why believing and obeying His word is so important. And, this is why it is so disrespectful to discount and disobey Him. His word will judge us in the last day (Jno. 12:48). Living by His word will bring eternal blessings, but rejecting it will bring the just punishment of our sins (read Rom. 2:6-11). The teachings of Jesus carry greater authority that Moses and the Old Testament prophets. His words are greater than any human philosopher who has ever or will ever live. He speaks with heaven’s authority. The question before us will always be, will we honor Him with our full obedience, or will we argue against Him and His word to our eternal demise? The choice is clear; the time is now. Honor Christ by following His teaching.