He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
He “came”. In context, this is most profound. I’m sure that back in Jesus’ day, His coming seemed like a random guy had walked into town and started talking in parables and maybe healing some people, which would seem weird and not exactly Messiah-ish. It would be reasonable to be a bit skeptical and to think He is a strange character. I’m sure they were busy and that they would rather ignore all of this in order to get on with their day-to-day problems. There were others making Messiah claims during this timeframe, so perhaps they were suffering from Messiah weariness.
However, He “came” from the beginning of time, equal with God, the very Creator Himself, incarnated through a virgin birth as a baby. He came from eternity and infinity into time and space.
He came to His own. His own — what does that mean? Since I have read this before, I am pretty sure it means the Jewish nation. The promise of the Messiah who comes as a suffering servant and a propitiatory offering came through Jewish prophecy. The elaborate laws concerning sacrificial sin and peace offerings were all clearly foreshadowings of Him. The Jewish nation was set up to be the people through which the savior-messiah would come.
It is really fascinating to think that not only were the Jews God’s chosen people, but He actually came and incarnated as a Jew! So in the sense of the Jews being God’s chosen people, and in the sense that He actually became a Jew in the flesh, they were His own! They were His family, His nation, His people.
Leon Morris makes the point that this is the same expression used of John in response to Jesus word from the cross, when he took Mary into his own home. So we can surmise that “His own” indicates an intimate belonging as if saying “He came home, and his family didn’t receive Him.” He didn’t come as an alien; He was coming home. This makes His rejection all the worse. It is bad if a stranger disses you or rejects you or betrays you, but it is much worse if your own family does it.
did not receive Him. “receive” is the Greek word “paralambano” which means, to receive near, to associate with oneself. This idea of receiving or rejecting, of belief vs. unbelief, is very important. The Jewish nation which was His own people, did not recognize Him and did not believe in Him. They rejected Him. It was as stark as exile and murder. This was a violent and stark lack of reception. It was as if the bridegroom arrived at the wedding and the bride’s wedding party chased him off and shot him as he ran away. They didn’t receive Him – with extreme violence.
Notice also that it is interesting that while a few did receive Him, the verdict of the high priest and the other religious leaders who rejected Him seemed to carry the legitimate title of “His own”, because they were the ones who did not receive Him.