The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He 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 people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13)

       He was coming. Like in a movie.

          It is the premise of a lot of great westerns: At a desolate time, in a desolate place, the stage is set for an unlikely hero to emerge; only instead of the gun-slinging cowboy riding in to save the town (and the dame-wrong genre), it was Jesus, and He was coming to save the world.

        But the world did not know Him.

         Think of that. Creator God walked among His creation for the purpose of saving them, and they had no clue. But why would they? First, He was too average looking to be noticed: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). Second, He was too poor to be impressed. According to the Law, a lamb was the required sacrifice for atonement of sin, unless someone was too poor to afford one; in which case two doves or pigeons could be offered instead: “And when the time came for {Mary and Joseph’s} purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought {Jesus} up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord… and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:22, 24). Third, He was from Nazareth, a town so small and off the beaten path that that it was considered uneducated, and backwoods, full of hicks and sticks: “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law of the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph. Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:45-46).

        He came to His own, and they did not receive Him.

        Jesus was raised in Nazareth, but He didn’t stay there. When He claimed to be the Messiah, they rejected Him. Then they ran Him outta town on a rail. “When {the people of Nazareth} heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove {Jesus} out of town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away” (Luke 4:28-30).

       But to all who received Him

       To all. Besides faith, there were no requirements for having a relationship with Jesus. No status, no age, no race, no gender. Nor prior education or track record of good behavior. The greater the transgression, the greater the forgiveness. He welcomed the poor, the rich, the intelligent, and the not-so-much. He, in fact, broke every cultural, political, and social boundary in pursuit of the all: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)

       He gave the right to become children of God.

         Through Jesus, we lay claim to heaven’s territory, its rights and its riches. Jesus became our brother and our God our Father. “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16)

        So yeah, it was tough to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Hero, especially because of what he looked like, how he acted, and who He chose to spend time with. But those who got it, those who followed the renegade once their eyes were opened, they reaped the reward. And so can we. And with Him we become our own kind of renegade. With Jesus, ride or die!

Prayer Focus

Worship the Father and the Son for their unique characteristics and ask God to give you strength and courage to proudly proclaim you follow a renegade.

Questions to ask

  • What is most striking to you about the way Jesus began His ministry years?
  • Jesus repeatedly extended His hand to all types of people. In what ways do you need to be more like Him? Who do you struggle to welcome?
  • In what ways are you a renegade for Jesus? In what ways do you need to become more of one?

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