We must know and accept Jesus Christ, not on our own terms, but for who He has revealed Himself to be: God the Son. This is the great truth John’s Gospel reveals to us—that God became flesh and dwelt among us for our sake, for our salvation.
When God Became a Flea
John 1:4-5, 9-18
In our last Wisdom Journey, we began our chronological study in the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. But we did not start with Jesus’ birth because He existed eternally as God the Son before taking on human nature.
We are here in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, where we have already learned that Jesus is the Word, the logos. He is God the Son from eternity past. We also learned that He is the creating agent of the Trinity—the Word of God who created the universe.
John goes on here in verse 5 to tell us that Jesus was the light shining in the darkness. Jesus not only said those words, at the dawn of creation, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), but He is the light—the light of the world. And how our dark world needs the light of Christ today.
John gives us three different reactions to the light. One reaction is that the light is not recognized. He says in verse 10, “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him”—that is, they did not recognize Him. Why? The Bible tells us that Satan, the “god of this world,” blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). The blinders he uses on people might be labeled skepticism, atheism, or false religion, but they keep people from seeing the truth of Christ. The light is not recognized.
Second, the light is rejected. Verse 11 tells us, “He came to his own, and his own people [Jews] did not receive him.” He was their Messiah, but they rejected Him.
Maybe you know the pain of rejection from friends or family because of your faith in Christ. Well, the Lord knows how you feel. Just remember, they are spiritually blind and have rejected the light.
But there is a third reaction: the light of Christ is received by those who believe in Him. Verse 12 says: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
You become a member of God’s family only one way—by receiving Christ as your personal Savior. John clarifies here in verse 12 that receiving Him means believing in His “name.”
A “name” refers to someone’s character—what that person represents, who he or she is. So, to believe in the name of Jesus is to trust everything He represents—who He is. And who is He? He is fully God and fully man; He is the Creator of the universe; He is the Savior of sinners who believe.
So, here in the introduction to his Gospel, John is revealing what Jesus packed in His suitcase when He came to earth. He brought His divine nature—He is fully God. He also brought along the power to demonstrate during His ministry that He is indeed divine. He brought a purpose and plan to handle rejection and death by crucifixion. He brought grace and forgiveness for all those who believe He died to pay the penalty of their sins, and He came as the light to reveal the glory and grace of God.
That is what John writes about here in verse 14:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Verse 18 says that Jesus made known the reality of God to mankind. He made known the truth of the living God. “Made . . . known” translates the Greek word exegesis. Exegesis, in verb form, means “to explain, to unfold, to interpret.” You can even translate it “to lead the way.”
Jesus is the “exegesis” of God the Father. He has not only explained who the Father is, but He is going to lead the way to live with the Father in heaven.
This is why Jesus will say, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In other words, Jesus is here to tell you how to one day live with God, and He is the only one who can lead the way there.
When Marsha and I moved here to plant The Shepherd’s Church, we initially moved into a rented house in Raleigh, and let me tell you, the house had been left a mess. The former residents had housed a dozen cats, and those cats had lived in every room.
I moved in a couple of days before my wife and twin baby boys were scheduled to join me. One of my brothers came, and we painted most of the rooms, scrubbed everything down, and vacuumed the carpet.
We eventually unpacked everything and settled into our new home. A few days later, my wife and I seemed to be constantly scratching our ankles. Little red spots were appearing.
Then one night we had our twin baby boys lying on their blankets out on the floor—they were more fun to watch than television. I leaned down to brush a black speck off one of my son's cheeks, and just as I reached down, that black spot jumped! It was a flea! Those wonderful cats had left us a houseful of fleas.
I called the carpet cleaners, and they came out—it didn’t help; I think the fleas enjoyed their bath. I had the exterminators come out and spray—still no sign of surrender. I finally went to the hardware store and bought a little flea bomb that emitted smoke that would kill the fleas. The directions indicated that one flea bomb would take care of our little house. Well, it didn’t do a thing but give those fleas a little heartburn. It was time to get tough! We were planning to leave town for a few days. So, I went to the hardware store and purchased, not one flea bomb, but six of them; one for every room. After packing the family in the car, I set off the bombs, and we drove away. I hoped nobody would call the fire department. A few days later, we returned home, and there were no more fleas!
Now I must tell you, I do not hate fleas. I don’t really care if they are dead or alive—just so they are not in my house. I would have been glad to warn them that flea-bomb day was coming. “Listen, there is trouble ahead—you are in danger. You need to leave; you need to be saved from the wrath of the master of this house.” How could I let them know that? There is only one way—I would have to become a flea!
Now I would hate to start living like a flea; and to be perfectly honest with you, I would never in a million years give up what I have in order to rescue a house full of fleas. That would be humiliating! But isn’t that what God the Son did for us?
The truth is, we do not think it was much of a stretch, much of a change, for Jesus to become a human; but let me tell you, for God the Son, who lived in glory and splendor, to give all that up to join the family of the human race—that is a lot like you becoming a flea.
But He did it. He gave us the message that bomb-day is coming but also provided a way to escape it all—a way to leave this house of sinful humanity and one day go to live in the Father’s house in heaven.
The Creator of the world, God the Son, became a little flea so that those who believe in His name (who He really is) are given the right to become children of God.
Think of it: God the Son became a member of our family, so that we could join the family of God.