Summary: Why would people not want Jesus in their lives? Why did John 1:11 say Jesus came to His own, but His own did not receive Him?
OPEN: There’s a true story told about a plastic surgeon who had a patient that had been injured in a fire. The patient had attempted to save his parents from a burning house, but he couldn't get to them in time... and they died. His own face was burned and disfigured. And (as sometimes happens when overwhelmed by such tragedy) the man felt guilty because he had failed to save his parent - and he believed that his pain was God's punishment. As a result, he refused help from anyone, including the doctor. And he wouldn't let anyone see him—not even his wife.
When the wife went to talk with the Doctor, he told her “I can restore his face.” But, of course the problem was, that he repeatedly refused treatment and the doctor wasn’t sure what to do. The wife looked at the physician and said, “That's why I have come to see you. I want you to disfigure my face so I can be like him! If I can share in his pain, then maybe he will let me back into his life.”
APPLY: Our text today tells us that God had a similar problem. The Gospel of John starts out by introducing to Jesus. We’re told that Jesus was The Word of God. In fact, He wasn’t just the WORD OF GOD, He WAS God. He was God in the flesh.
But then we’re told there’s this… problem: “(Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own… did not receive him.” John 1:10-11
Now, why wouldn’t they “receive Him”? Why would these people NOT want Jesus??? Well, the answer is revealed JUST A FEW verses earlier: “In (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in THE DARKNESS…” John 1:4-5
Now darkness is normal. At night… I like Darkness. I can turn off the lights and sleep. Darkness is a good time to rest. But extended lengths of darkness can mess with your mind
ILLUS: In Alaska, the nights can go on for … well, days. There’s a city called Barrow - it’s the city farthest North in Alaska - and there - the nights can go on, and on, for 67 days. And what they’ve found is that many of people who live in Alaska suffer from something called S.A.D. = Seasonally Affected Disorder. It’s a disorder where people suffer from depression because they’ve been in the dark so long.
Realizing how much this effects people, neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania experimented with rats, keeping them in the dark for six weeks. They found that the animals not only exhibited depressive behavior but they also suffered damage in brain regions known to be underactive in humans during depression. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/down-in-the-dark/)
In the same way, S.A.D. causes depression in people who’ve been in dark places way too long. It robs them of their enthusiasm, hope, joy, pleasure.
Now, God knows that. And so, when God talks about the TRUE darkness in people’s lives He uses darkness to describe the effect that sin has in their lives.
For example, Colossians 1:13 says “(God) has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son”
In Ephesians we’re told that “at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light… Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” Ephesians 5:8, 11-12
And Paul said that Jesus had commissioned him: “to open (people’s) eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in (Jesus).” Acts 26:18
You see, sin created darkness in our world. And that darkness - the darkness of our sins - had robbed us of God’s love.
ILLUS: Do you remember, in the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden and it seems that God would regularly come down and walk with them/talk with them. That’s where the writer of the old Gospel hymn got his idea for his song. Sing it with me:
“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks we me, and He talks with and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there; none other, has ever known."
Can you imagine how wondrous it would have been to have been Adam and Eve. Beautiful garden. Pristine world. And God spending time… with you. Just walking and talking with you like you were most important person in world.