Why People Do Not Receive Jesus

Text: John 1:11

When Jesus came and preached to the Jews, many would not receive Him. Why? The gospel of John records several events showing reasons why people rejected Jesus. Many do not receive Jesus for the same reasons today. Let us notice a few of these.

They Love Darkness (John 3:19-21)

  • Jesus is the Light of the world (John 1:4; 8:12) – in this passage, Light is connected with judgment; because of how people react to the light
  • Our response to light depends on whether we are practicing truth or engaging in sin – sin and light are incompatible with one another (1 John 1:5-7; Romans 13:12-14)
  • Too many love sin more than the hope offered by Christ (Romans 6:23; Matthew 13:49-50)

They Have Religious Preconceptions (John 5:16-18)

  • Jesus had just healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:8-9) – the Jews persecuted Him for it (John 5:16); they became even more upset when He declared that He was equal with the Father (John 5:17-18)
  • Their objections to Christ were based upon their religious misconceptions – nothing wrong with Jesus healing on the Sabbath (Luke 6:6-10); Jesus was equal with God (John 1:1; 10:30)
  • People today allow religious misconceptions to prevent them from receiving Jesus – they believe that all, or at least all “good” people, will be saved (Acts 4:12); they believe that one can be saved before and without water baptism (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21)

They Find Him Too Demanding (John 6:60, 66)

  • Jesus had just fed 5,000 people (John 6:10), causing them to believe that He was “the Prophet” (John 6:14; cf. Deuteronomy 18:15,18) – they were now willing to fight against the Roman army to make Jesus king (John 6:15)
  • Soon after they were leaving because of His “difficult statement” (John 6:60,66) – basically, Jesus said they needed to be completely devoted to following His word (John 6:48-51,63,68)
  • Discipleship is demanding (Luke 9:23) – we need to count the cost (Luke 14:25-33); many do and reject Him

They Are Unwilling to Do His Will (John 7:17)

  • The Jews tried to cite Jesus’ supposed lack of education as a reason to ignore His teaching (John 7:15) – yet this was clearly just an excuse (John 7:32,45-46; Matthew 7:28-29)
  • To accept Jesus’ teaching, there must be a willingness to do so – otherwise people will find some excuse to not listen
  • We must also remember that receiving Christ is about doing His will (Hebrews 5:9; Matthew 7:21)

They Are Comfortable with the Status Quo (John 11:47-48)

  • After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, many believed in Him (John 11:45) – this did not sit well with His enemies, the chief priests and Pharisees (John 11:47-48)
  • Interestingly, they did not deny the miracles – they were concerned with the status quo and their position
  • Godly people do not seek change for the sake of change (Proverbs 24:21) – but we must not be content with the status quo of sin and immaturity (Luke 13:3,5; Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 6:1)

They Love the Approval of Men (John 12:42-43)

  • Here were some who believed, but would not confess because they feared the Pharisees and loved the approval of men – reminder that belief alone does not save (James 2:24)
  • If we love the approval of men, we cannot faithfully serve the Lord (Galatians 1:10) – the way of Christ is contrary to the majority (Matthew 7:13-14) and brings persecution (2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12)
  • We could gain the approval of men by being of the world (John 15:18-19) – but we need to be different (Romans 12:2); overcome the world through faith (1 John 5:3-5)


  • Let us not be like those who refused to receive Jesus
  • Receive Him – believe Him as the Son of God; obey Him as Lord; trust Him as your Savior

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