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John 1: 10 might be the saddest verse in the Bible, “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.” Why doesn’t the world recognize Jesus?

The “world” can mean three different things in John.  All three meanings of “world” can be distinguished in v. 10, “He came into the very world he created (the world of Creation), but the world (that’s the world of humanity) didn’t recognize him (that’s the world system that is hostile to God and Jesus). It is this third meaning that John emphasizes. A quick summary of the Gospel of John reveals five reasons why the world system does not recognize Jesus:

1. This world system will not welcome Christ (John 1:10). The world system denies Creation, a Creator, and God-given absolutes.  Much of the educated world today denies that Christianity itself is true knowledge. The world system is a sense-bound system. Faith, it says, cannot be known by science, so is not real knowledge. If you ever hear that just ask a question, “Did science tell you that?” Of course not! Scientific naturalism is worldview that itself is not based in science. It rules God out at the start. It will not welcome God into the conversation. 

2. The world organizes an evil system against Christ. John 12:31 says that Satan is the ruler of the world which Jesus came to cast out. The world system is governed by the prince of darkness. It has always led a rebellion against God. It all began in Genesis 3, when the devil entered a perfect world and planted a lie in Adam and Eve’s head – you will be like God! In the new creation of Christ, remember that King Herod ordered all the babies killed in Bethlehem. He tried to kill Jesus. Then there is Saul the Pharisee. He arrested and persecuted the early Christians. When political and religious systems are infiltrated by the world system, great hostiles are organized against Christ and Christians.  Jesus said in John 15:18, that the world hates you because it hates me.

3. The world pressures those who know Christ. The world system is a master at manipulating, intimidating and conditioning people to conform to its godless ways. The world system pressures people to not believe in Him. John 15:19 says the world loves you as long as you don’t try to leave. But, if you try to leave the world then you will be cancelled and punished. There is tremendous pressure to conform. Biblically, it is world pressure from demonically inspired flesh. Romans 12:2 warns, “Do not be conformed to the world.” Christians are to let God transform us by a new way of thinking. 

4. The world weeps and laughs differently than Christ. Perhaps nothing exposes the world system more than observing what it laughs and protests at. Sometimes we know people best by what they cry and cheer about. Jesus and the world don’t laugh and cry about the same things. In John 16:20, Jesus told his disciples they would cry when they see him suffer (on the cross), but the world will rejoice!

5. The world pursues a love without Christ. This may be the main reason the world does not recognize Jesus. It is because the world is full of love. But it is self-love. Like Narcissus, the world stares at its own image, and ignores the true love of God. 2 Timothy 3 warns that in the last days, people will love only themselves and only pleasure and not be lovers of God. The reason much of the world does not recognize Christ is not intellectual, it is affectional. The world is in love with itself. John warns Christians to not love the world system. It is an adulteress -- a world of false love that steals you away from the true love of Christ.

1 John 2:15-17 (NLT), “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

Brothers and sisters, if we are not vigilant the world system will produce this love disorder in us. The world seeks to train your cravings towards self-gratification, self-comparison and self-promotion (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life). If we love the world, our loves become disordered too. Isn't it true that we always conform to what we love? But, when we recognize Christ and truly love Him, He gives us a new heart and reorders our loves.

David Wells summed up what the world system does in one statement “Worldliness is whatever makes sin look normal in any age, and righteousness seem odd.” The world system wants to normalizes corruption and marginalize righteousness. Jesus described the world in His day. Is this not exactly the way the world is today too?

C. S. Lewis gave a creative word picture of this world system in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, “Always winter, but never Christmas.”

I end with a great promise from Jesus, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 (NLT).