He came into the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him [did not know Him].
He came to that which belonged to Him [to His own—His domain, creation, things, world], and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him.
This Scripture makes me wonder something ... If He came into the world today, would we recognize Him? Would we receive Him, especially as the Bible presents who He is? Or would we try to make Him into someone who fits our description of who we want Him to be? And isn't that ultimately why the Jews did not recognize Him as their Messiah? He didn't fit their image of who a Savior should be.
Let's face it. The world over has different definitions and understandings of who this Jesus of Nazareth was/is. As Christians we believe that He is the Incarnate Son of God; God in the flesh... or at least, we should believe that, if we are to call ourselves Christians. Yet, how many of you realize that some of our most popular versions of the Bible (NIV, Holman Christian Standard Bible, ESV) omit that important fact in 1 John 4:3? The King James version reads "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of anti-Christ...". Those other versions read, "But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist;". (However, the Holman Bible does make reference to other manuscripts which include "is come in the flesh"). Do you see the difference? That part about "coming in the flesh" sets him apart from other men; designates his Godship.
We know that other religions recognize Him as a prophet or a revered teacher. For example, Islam does not describe Jesus as the son of God, but as one of four major human messengers (out of many prophets) sent by God throughout history to guide mankind. Furthermore, they do not believe that He was ever crucified or resurrected or that He ever atoned for the sins of mankind. Instead, most Muslims believe that He was neither killed nor crucified, but that God made it appear so to his enemies. Yet, they also believe that Jesus ascended bodily to heaven, is alive, and will return to the world (in the flesh) to defeat the Antichrist, once the world has become filled with sin, deception and injustice, and then live out the rest of his natural life. You can see the differences in how each of these two major world religions view the Lord and His purpose in world redemption. Without seeing Him as God Incarnate, He becomes just another historical figure to be dissected and molded to fit man's social and moral agendas.
The other aspect of this passage is that the world was made through Jesus's hand; it is His domain, His creation; all things in the world are made by Him. But we don't want to be in his debt; to be beholden to the rules of the One who created us. Instead, we want Him to accept all of us and all of our various beliefs about who He is. That is why we see the ecumenical movement on the rise ... we want Jesus to partner with us to meet the religious needs of the masses of the world. We don't want to recognize the Truth about who He is; we want Him to become less offensive and more inclusive of all our human fantasies of what a god should be. Oh, the arrogance of man to try to redefine the Son of God so that He is acceptable to all!
But here is the Truth: Jesus is the Lord of all (as their Creator and the only begotten Son of God Almighty). He is no respecter of persons, and He shows no partiality or favoritism. Although He did come to that "which belonged to Him and who were His own" (the Jewish people), they refused to recognize Him as their long awaited Messiah, and they rejected Him. But God's purpose for the world was fulfilled: Christ died for all humankind, so that whosoever will believe on Him will have life everlasting.
I am fully aware that very soon He will come again and there will be those in the world who, once again, will refuse to welcome Him. I have no doubt that they will recognize Him -- if not from knowledge of Him, then from the fear in their spirits, who will recognize Him as their Creator come to bring His judgment upon His creation. I pray that those who do not yet know Him, will discern a stirring in their souls and spirit, and prepare to meet their Maker. That may be an old-fashioned term for the act of dying, but for those of us who believe in Him, even unto death, it will be a glorious day when we receive Him!