The Lord’s “own” (John 1:11) refers to His own people, Israel (Rom. 9:5). This should quell any animosity toward Jews as “Christ-killers,” for we wouldn’t even have a Christ were it not for the Jews!
Most Christians don’t know that when Christ came to earth, “He came unto His own” (Mt.15:24), not to us Gentiles. That means what He said on earth He didn’t say to you. There is value in studying “all Scripture,” of course (IITim.3:16)—if you remember it is not all written to you!
“His own received Him not” (John 1:11), but what if they had received Him? Who would have died for our sins? Psalm 118 tells us. “Save now” (v.25) is the Hebrew word Hosanna, a verse they quoted on Palm Sunday (Mt.21:9), as well as the next verse (v.26). What Israel should have done is described in Verse 27. They should have tied the Lord to the altar and sacrificed Him in faith. They should have thought of Abraham, who knew the promises were vested in his son, and so figured God would raise him up if he killed him (Heb.11:19). Thinking of him, Israel should have recognized the One in whom the promises were vested, then sacrificed him in faith, knowing God would raise Him. God knew they’d reject and slay Him, of course, and predicted it. But on Judgment Day they’ll be unable to say, “We had to kill Him.” That was not God’s plan!
While the nation didn’t receive Him, some individuals did. To them God gave the power to become His sons, but they will not actually become His sons until the children of Israel “appoint themselves one Head” in the kingdom (Hosea 1:10,11). Thus men who believed on Him became His children, but were not yet sons. What’s the difference?
Well, a child is like a servant (Gal. 4:1,2), in that both get told what to do. Since Mark presents Christ as a servant, he says the Spirit drove the Lord (1:12,13), whereas Luke says the Spirit “led” Him (4:1,2), because Luke presents Him as a man. And in the Bible, that’s what being a son is all about. To this day, bar mitzvahed boys say, “Today, I am a man.” And so while you can drive a child, you have to lead a son. The children of Israel were driven by the law, but in the kingdom they’ll be led by the Spirit
Today we are sons because we are led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14) as opposed to being driven by the Law (v.15). We received the Spirit when we got saved, but Israel had to wait for Him (John 14:17). He filled and led them at Pente-cost (Acts 2:4), a foretaste of the kingdom. That’s when they became sons of God. I John was written to those sin-less Pentecostal saints (cf. 3:9), and 3:2 says “now are we the sons of God,” indicating before Pentecost they weren’t.
And so we have what Israel must wait for. It’s not that we are more spiritual than they were, we just live in a later age. The 12 apostles were no better than the prophets, but they were more blessed (Mt.13:17). And people in the millennial kingdom will be more blessed than we are!
Those who believed on the Lord “were born” (John 1:13), i.e., born again. They were born “not of blood,”, i.e., not because they were of Jewish blood. “Nor of the will of the flesh” (1:13). What’s that mean? Well, Paul says that keeping the law today (Col. 2:20-22) is “a show in…will worship” (v.23). Keeping the law under grace is not worshipping God, it is worshipping your own will. It is worshipping God the way you want to worship Him, not in the way He wants. It is worshipping God according to your will, and John says men get born again “not of the will of the flesh.” Under grace, you can’t worship God by putting yourself under the Law—that’s will worship. But here in John, they are still under the Law! They still had to be circumcised, bring sacrifices, etc. To not do so would be will worship, the will of the flesh. And no matter what dispensation you are in, you can’t be reborn that way!
Those who believed on the Lord were also born “not of the will of man” (1:13). Our Calvinist friends use this to say that you don’t choose God, He chooses you. But while it is true that men are born by the will of God, James 1:18 says “Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth.” It is God’s will to save whoever believes His Word.