THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD – John 8:12-20

John 8:12-20, Uncategorized

I imagine that most, if not all of us, have been in a tunnel. What’s the best thing about a tunnel? It’s the light at the end of it, right? And the best thing about a cloudy day is when the sun peeks through those clouds and often spreads a rainbow across the sky. Most of us enjoy the light and prefer it over the darkness. This earth would be a cold, dark, lifeless planet if there were no sun in the sky to give it light and warmth. In John 8:12, Jesus makes a statement about Himself, and He couldn’t have picked a more appropriate setting to make His announcement.

I.  THE SETTING (verse 20)

Before we examine His announcement, let’s first skip down to verse 20 for a moment in order to learn the location of Jesus and to find out what is happening around Him.  The apostle John writes, “These words He [Jesus] spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple.” This treasury was located in the Court of the Women.  Thirteen treasure chests were there for the various kinds of offerings.  This was a very busy place, with a constant flow of worshippers coming in and going out.  The Mishnah, which is a lengthy Jewish commentary on the Law of Moses, states that, on every night of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Court of the Women was to be brilliantly lit up.  Historians tell us that four large candelabra burned brightly in the temple area to commemorate the pillar of fire which led the Israelites through the wilderness. 

II.  JESUS’ DECLARATION (verse 12)

It’s in this setting that Jesus declares loudly, “I am the light of the world.”  Another event may have been happening outside the temple at that very same moment.  John 8:2 says that it was early in the morning when Christ came to the temple.  He may have made that claim just as the sun was rising that morning.  The Courtyard of the Women was an open courtyard so the brightness of the sun, dispelling the darkness, would have been observed and welcomed by all who were there.  When Jesus shouted out His claim at that moment, He was comparing Himself to the rising sun.  This would have caused the people to think that Jesus was once again claiming to be God.  For the Jew, the sun was the symbol of Jehovah God.  Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord our God is a sun and shield.”  This planet of ours has only one sun and it is the source of our light.  The word “light” is an Old Testament image for the Messiah.  Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in the dark land, the light will shine on them.”

The Lord Jesus not only said that He was the light but “the light of the world.”  He and His light were not just for the Jews only.  It’s interesting that the Court of the Women, where Jesus is speaking, is the only court in the temple that was designed with large openings or windows so that the light could be seen outside by people in many parts of the city of Jerusalem,  I wonder if that thought came to the minds of some of the people who were there and heard Jesus make that claim.

Jesus goes on to say, “he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”  He’s drawing the attention of the people back to the image of the pillar of fire.  In the exodus from Egypt, God didn’t put the pillar of fire in the sky as something for the people of Israel to look at and admire.  It was a light to lead them through the wilderness to the promised land.  Jesus is saying that He is the light who leads them out of the darkness of sin to a relationship with Himself.

In Benjamin Franklin’s day, the streets of Philadelphia were dark after sunset.  Night time pedestrians had to walk cautiously to avoid rocks and holes.  Franklin decided to set a good example for his fellow citizens by placing a lantern outside his home.  As people stumbled down his street at night, they would come to that oasis of light and realize what a blessing it was.  Soon other Philadelphians were setting out their own lanterns.  After sunset,  the whole village became a place of illumined safety.  In a spiritual sense, this world of ours can also be a very dark place.  Have you found that to be true at times?  There is a need for the Light to guide our way. 

III.  THE RESPONSE (verse 13)

As expected, the Pharisees make their reply and give their judgment.  Verse 13 says, “The Pharisees therefore said to Him, ‘You are bearing witness to yourself.  Your witness is not true’.”  Their reference is to Deuteronomy 19:15 and they are using it out of context.  That verse says, “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”  The rest of that chapter refers to witnesses in a criminal case.  Two or three witnesses are required in court to settle a dispute or pass judgment on a crime.  That command was expressed earlier by God in Deuteronomy 17:6, which says, “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.”  That law didn’t apply in this situation.  The Pharisees were either unfamiliar with that law or were purposely making up their own rules of evidence in order to gain the approval of the crowd in the temple.    

IV.  JESUS’ FIRST REPLY — I AM MY OWN WITNESS  (verses 14-15)

Rather than point out their mistake, the Lord Jesus responds to their objection.  He begins by saying, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true; for I know where I came  from and where I am going; but do not know where I come from, or where I am going.”  He’s telling them that He has the authority and qualifications to talk about Himself whereas they do not.  If they had recognized the true identity of Jesus, they wouldn’t have made that statement.  They asked the question because they refused to acknowledge His true identity.  Did the Old Testament prophets need witnesses to confirm that they were prophets?  No.  Their words and their actions were proof enough.  Does light need a witness that it exists?  No.  Light provides its own witness as we see it and feel the warmth of it.  In this verse, Jesus has stated His credentials.  A famous surgeon doesn’t need witnesses to testify to his competence every time he performs a surgery.  A well-known and respected judge doesn’t need witnesses to affirm his ability to judge a case in court.  The skills of these two professionals speak for themselves; they are a matter of public record.  Jesus is telling these Pharisees to come out of the darkness of their unbelief and into the light of reality, and then examine His credentials clearly and thoroughly.

In verse 15, the Lord Jesus makes a charge against them when He says, “You people judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.”  He’s comparing their attitude and their perspective to His own.  They make their judgments based upon externals, relying upon their own human knowledge and personal biases.  Rather than judging on the basis of God’s Word, which reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart, they want to make their own rules and exalt themselves in the process of enforcing them.  Jesus, on the other hand, is not judging anyone.  His purpose for coming to this earth was not judgment but salvation (John 3:17-17; 12:47).  We have already seen that purpose exemplified in Jesus’ response to the woman in John 8:1-12.  He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way.  From now on sin no more.” 

V.  JESUS’ SECOND REPLY — THE FATHER IS ALSO MY WITNESS (verses 16-18)

In verse 16 Jesus qualifies His previous statement by saying, “But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and He who sent Me.” He is saying, “If My own words and My own works are not enough to convince you, I have a second witness.  That witness is the one who sent Me.”  Jesus is humbly describing Himself as the ambassador of His heavenly Father.  An ambassador is an official representative from one country to another.  In this case, Jesus was sent from heaven to earth with an important message and mission.  An ambassador speaks the message of the one who sent him, with the authority of the one who sent him.  Therefore Jesus says, in verse 16, “My decisions are right.”

Over the centuries, ambassadors have been highly regarded and shown the utmost respect because of the countries and leaders they have represented.  Here is one case in point.  W.D. Dunn, the evangelist, was holding a campaign of gospel meetings in a large hall in the town of Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland, an industrial town about 10 miles from Glasgow.  Having attended the funeral of a friend, Dunn arrived at the Carlisle station just after his train left.  His only hope of making it to his appointment on time was an express train that did not stop in Motherwell.

Approaching the Stationmaster, he asked if the express train to Glasgow could be stopped for a minute or two at Motherwell to enable him to alight and be in time for a very important meeting there.  The Stationmaster said it could not be done.  Lifting up his heart in prayer, the evangelist was turning away when the Stationmaster added:  “But are you a Member of Parliament?  I have authority to have the train stopped for a M.P.”  “No,” replied Dunn, “I am not an M.P.; but I hold a much higher rank.  I am an ambassador.”  “An ambassador,” said the Stationmaster.  “All right, I shall have the train stopped at Motherwell for you.”  Mr. Dunn walked off, thanking him, but on further consideration, he felt he ought to clarify his position to the Stationmaster.  Going back to him again, he said, “I told you I was an ambassador, and that is true.  But I am not an ambassador of an earthly king.  I am an ambassador of the King of kings, and have a message from Him for over 1000 people who will gather at Motherwell to hear it.  Now I have told you frankly my position.  Will the train still stop at Motherwell?”  “Yes”, replied the Stationmaster, “I have arranged that it shall stop and it will stop without fail.”  This illustration demonstrates that the King of kings runs the trains and takes care of His ambassadors.

The Lord Jesus has also declared that He is the ambassador of His heavenly Father, and in verses 17 and 18 He continues to use the Scriptures to prove His authority.  These are His words:  Even in your law it has been written, that the testimony of two witnesses is true.  I am He who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”  Jesus might be called the “Expert Witness” demonstrated by His His life, His words, and His miracles.  His Father might be called the “Source Witness” – the One who authorized, sent, and empowered His “Expert Witness”.  According to the Law, this is more than sufficient proof.  The burden is now on His listeners to try to disprove it.

VI.  RESPONSE AND REBUTTAL (verse 19)

What do you say when your accusation has been disproven and there’s really nothing more to say?  How do you keep yourself from saying anything at all?  Have you ever been in that situation?  What was your response (if any)?

In this case, the Pharisees asked for more physical evidence. “Where is your Father”, they ask.  I visualize them looking around as they said those words, seeking an older man with His family resemblance  They wanted Jesus to point him out so that they could interrogate him.

Once again, the Pharisees fail to realize that when Jesus talks about the Father, He’s referring to God.  How many times do they have to hear those words from Him?  They have already tried to stone Him to death for saying those words because He was making Himself equal with God by calling God His Father (John 5:18).  Jesus replies to them, making His point very clear:  “You know neither Me, nor My Father; if you had known Me, you would know My Father also.”  That was a well-deserved, stinging rebuke!

The Pharisees were still in the tunnel spiritually.  They preferred darkness to the light of truth because the truth didn’t agree with their own belief system.  The witness of the Father was not only through Jesus Christ, the living Word, but also through the written word of God, and they rejected both.

VII.  NO ARREST (verse 20)

In verse 20 we are once again informed of the practices of the Pharisees and other leaders of the Jews.  When they can’t disprove or deny the evidence, they seek to destroy it.  In this case, the evidence is Jesus Christ.  Verse 20 ends with the words, “And no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.”  They wanted to seize him alright, but God restrained them.  The hour when Jesus would be arrested was in the Father’s timing, not theirs.

CONCLUSION:

Are you personally in a “spiritual tunnel” at this moment in your life?  Are you seeking the light at the end of it, or are you content to be in spiritual darkness?  The only light at the end of that tunnel is Jesus Christ.  There is no way to the Father except through the Son (John 14:6; I Timothy 2:5).  You can’t know God except through Jesus Christ.  That is the very core of the Gospel message.  If you choose to belleve in Him and follow Him, the Lord Jesus will dispel the darkness and fill your life with the light of His presence (John 1:4-5; II Corinthians 5:17).  I hope that today will be that day, as you let the Son shine in your life.

If you are a committed follower of Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus wants the light of His presence to shine brightly in the midst of the world of spiritual darkness around you.  As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  We are ambassadors for the King of kings.  God wants to use us to bring others to Himself (II Corinthians 5:20).  May our words and our lives be used by God to bring many out of their darkness and into His glorious light!  

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

Thank you for visiting this completed project:  John 8:12-20.  Now that you know the location, I hope you will drop by for a visit again soon.  There are almost 150 other messages on this site