He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
When sovereign peoples wish to confer like status to another among the nations of the world, they are said to recognize one another. When the Sovereign of the world came into his kingdom, no one recognized him—not the great empire, not the priests who served him, not the scholars who studied him, nor those who worshipped him. It is, therefore, rightly said he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
By his extraordinary life, he proved that he could not be ignored and neither could men wash their hands of him. Yet to humanity, granted by him, the sovereign right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of their own happiness was also given the power to refuse to recognize him. A right they exercise to this day.
The great mass of humanity’s refusal to recognize him did nothing to stop his coming nor the creation of his kingdom. The downtrodden, the poor, the vile, and the hungry upon whose backs mighty nations rode saw him and knew him. The sovereignty worldly empires thought they owned, was given by these worthless few in recognition of his kingdom. In return for their faith, both citizenship and inheritance in that kingdom have been granted by the divine promise that none may take from them.
Entry into his kingdom is not granted by believing the facts of his life or adherence to his teaching as one does the laws of other kingdoms. Poverty, ill-treatment, and oppression in this life do not merit access. Being one of the crowd and common decency do buy entry. There is no right of hereditary citizenship in his kingdom—it does not come by that kind of blood. Citizenship in the kingdom of God is not conferred upon the faithful by decree of any institution of human making. You cannot will or declare yourself into his kingdom.
It is granted only by the will of the One who gave it as a gift. As many who have freely and without merit received the gift, recognized his sovereignty who gave it, and enthroned the giver in their heart enter the kingdom of God. To accomplish that reception requires transformation—a new birth. Nothing less will do.