12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
Though the common response of the Jews and Romans to Christ – the incarnated eternal Word – was derision and rejection, there were some who “received him”. John points out to us at the end of the verse what it means to receive Him. It is to “believe on his name”.
The “name” is more than a word or set of words by which a person is known. Here it denotes Christ’s purposes, will, works and all that He is. Believing on His name is to trust and yield to Him completely, acknowledging His claims and confessing Him with gratitude. That is what it means to “receive” him. Those who receive Christ are those who believe on His name.
So, genuine believing is not merely having a mental recognition of Christ, but a hearty acceptance of Christ, His redeeming work and His sanctifying truths. Genuine believers desire and rejoice to have the Lord’s presence always with them. They would never want the Lord to be far from them. As Paul said in Colossians 2:6, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him”. Their life is no more separated from Christ. Their life is hid with Christ in God (cf. Colossians 3:3). They have Christ as their Saviour and Lord to guide them by His presence and truth.
To all who receive Him or believe on His name, “gave he power to become the sons of God”. The word “power” indicates “authority” or “right”. To those who received Christ by faith, He gave the right to be children of God. Is there anything nobler and higher than being sons of God? Oh, what an exalted privilege Christ gives unto us all who believe!
This exalted honour of being God’s children is granted to any who would believe on Christ’s name, regardless of his ethnicity, social status, financial condition or family background. None of his earthly conditions could prevent him from receiving the honour and privilege of being the child of God, if he would receive Christ as his Saviour and Lord and accept His truth by faith. It must then be emphasised that becoming God’s children is not based on human terms, but on Christ’s terms. Christ must be received by faith. If one would not heartily approbate Christ, one cannot be God’s child. But to all who sincerely receive Christ by faith, there is the exclusive, free and unchanging promise of being the children of God.