John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 8:12-20

It’s the Christmas season again, a season full of bright lights, so it’s very fitting that we’ve come upon this passage in John’s Gospel. Besides summer, Christmas is one of the brightest times of the year. There are all sorts of bright lights…Christmas tree lights, city holiday lights, home decoration lights, candles…but none of them shine brighter than the light of Jesus Christ! In fact, the light of Jesus Christ is so intimidating to people at Christmas time, that they want to shut it out completely and prevent others from enjoying His light as well!

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes seven very profound and emphatic “I am” statements. We already looked at one of these back in Chapter 6…”I am the bread of life”. Now here in Chapter 8, we come to another one of these statements…”I am the light of the world”. Everything on earth needs light to survive. Nothing would grow and everything would die without it including us. The same can be said about light spiritually. Without the spiritual light of Jesus Christ, we can not grow spiritually and we will spiritually die as well!

Light can be very intimidating though. Have you ever walked into a brightly lit room after being in the dark, or have someone shine a flashlight in your eyes? It hurts a bit doesn’t it? Your eyes need time to adjust to the sudden brightness because they got used to being in the dark and your first reaction is, “Get that light out of my eyes!”. This is the way many live their lives…in spiritual darkness…and when that spiritual darkness is threatened by the light of the Gospel, there is immediate rejection to that light and here in Chapter 8, we see this. In prior posts, I have gone verse by verse looking at the passages but for this post, I will be generalizing the whole passage and focusing on key verses in it. A lot of ground to cover so let’s get started! As always, the text link for the chapter and audio are included so you can follow along but before we get started, let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You for Your Word and this time that we are about to spend in it. Bless this time and make it fruitful. I have a very special prayer today for my Brothers and Sisters in Christ for this Christmas season and going into the new year. I pray You bless them financially with stable jobs; I pray You protect and improve their health; I pray You protect their families from all harm. Build a wall about them and protect them. Help them to feel Your presence, love and forgiveness daily in their lives so they can serve You! Father thank You for bringing the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives and lastly Lord, if there is anyone who is not saved or needs to re-examine their life and put the focus more back on You, we pray that they come to You today! Now as we look at Your Word, we put away all distractions. Our hearts and minds are open to hear what You have to say. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In the saving name of Jesus we pray…Amen!

John 8

Now let’s look at the passage for this post. …

(12) Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (13) The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” (14) Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. (15) You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. (16) And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. (17) It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. (18) I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.” (19) Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” (20) These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come. … John 8:12-20 NKJV

This takes place in the treasury of the temple as John notes in verse 20. We don’t exactly know if this takes place immediately after the woman who was caught in adultery is saved by Jesus or if this takes place sometime afterwards. From the way verse 9 reads, we are led to believe that everybody had left leaving Jesus alone with the woman. However, this would seem to take place on the same day since John makes no mention of another day. The way this passage reads, it would seem there were some people, Pharisees, still around after Jesus’ encounter with the woman. It is highly likely that the woman was still there as well when Jesus encounters these remaining Pharisees. Jesus wastes no time getting in their face with this discourse looking at verse 12 which is the verse that I will pay the most attention to in this post. …

v 12 – (12) Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

The Feast of Tabernacles is over but there are still a lot of people in the temple area because there is something else taking place. Remember back during the Tabernacles feast when the priests were pouring water from their pitchers and Jesus cried out “Whoever thirsts let him come to Me and drink!”? Well there is some background going on here as well. The Feast of Tabernacles is over but on the very first night of it, there is a celebration called The Illumination of the Temple. It took place in the court of women where they would light up four huge candelabras which were as high as the temple walls. The cups on those candelabras held 65 gallons of oil apiece. Huge wicks came out of them so when they were lit up, it lit up everything not just the temple but pretty near all of Jerusalem as well! There is a picture of what it probably looked like below.

This took place in the court of the women, where Jesus was teaching at the start of Chapter 8. The court of the women is also where the treasury for the temple was. It had collection boxes in the shape of trumpets where the people would pay the required one half shekel of temple tax so when Jesus was teaching there that day, there was a lot of foot traffic, people walking in and out of there paying their tax. The Pharisees had just accused a woman of adultery whom Jesus cleverly saves by exposing their own sins. When Jesus tells the people, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life, there is an immediate reaction. There are three groups in this story or rather one person and two groups. There is Jesus Christ, Himself. Then there is the Christ followers that Jesus mentions in this verse…those that follow Him and then there are the Christ haters who pipe up immediately after this claim that Jesus makes. The Illumination of the Temple represented God’s representation as a pillar of fire when the Hebrews were in the wilderness…

(21) And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. (22) He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. … Exodus 13:21-22 NKJV

The term light, was specifically referred to describe God so the Pharisees and the other people knew that Christ was making the claim that He was God and this of course, enraged them. They thought that Jesus was committing blasphemy, the crime that Jesus would eventually be wrongly convicted of and that He would be crucified for. The Jewish rabbis knew that the Messiah would be described as light. In Daniel Chapter 2, Daniel, praying, says…

(22) He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. … Daniel 2:22 NKJV

There are several other passages throughout The Old Testament referring to God as light. Too many to list here but these are some of the notables…

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? … Psalms 27:1 NKJV

(19)”The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory. … Isaiah 60:19 NKJV

(3) When His lamp shone upon my head, And when by His light I walked through darkness; … Job 29:3 NKJV

(8) Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The LORD will be a light to me. … Micah 7:8 NKJV

God is light and Christ is the image of the invisible God. I believe that the very first prophecy in The Bible of Christ is not found in Genesis 3:15 but in Genesis 1:3…

(3) Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. … Genesis 1:3 NKJV

Notice that Jesus says that He is the light of the world not just to the Jewish people. He was sent to be a light to the non-Jewish peoples (Gentiles) as well. Jesus by calling Himself the light, conveyed two things. First, describing Himself…His excellence and His true glory. The second thing is what He would be to all mankind for those who wish to receive and accept Him. This did not sit well with the Pharisees who believed that the Messiah would come strictly for the benefit of the Jewish people.

Jesus then continues His discourse, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. There is a catch for Jesus to be a true light in our world…we have to follow Him. Following Jesus means to trust, obey, and accept Him and submit to His guidance in our lives. It is not good enough to just gaze upon the light of Christ with our eyes. He must be a light for our feet also. Going back to that pillar of fire that the Hebrews were following in the wilderness. God appeared that way for them so they wouldn’t have to stumble their way through the dark. This is true if we are following the light of Jesus Christ. We aren’t stumbling our way through the darkness of life. The way is lit up for us. We face life with confidence and purpose. This is not true for people who do not have Christ in their lives though. They stumble through life and they are prone to following many things, anything, that will help them navigate through life. They also have an underlying fear of what lies ahead after this life. It’s hard to live your life blindfolded and yet so many people do because they don’t have the light of Jesus Christ to guide them through life.

The sad truth though is that people love to live in darkness. Jesus knew this as well. Going back to John Chapter 3, Jesus says…

(19) And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. … John 3:19-20 NKJV

Those of us who do come to Christ, however, experience a total behavior reversal. We’re not self centered. It isn’t all about us anymore which is totally against what today’s culture teaches us. Today’s culture teaches us to get what we can out of life and step on anyone who gets in our way. Look out for number one in other words. Schools teach kids and the mental health profession teaches people to do whatever they feel or be whatever they feel. Advertising slogans in ad campaigns are the same way most notably, Nike with their “Just Do It”. Yep…just do it! Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong or who it hurts. This was the sentiment echoed by Obama during his eight years of destroying the United States and continues today as well with his Socialist Democrat co-horts!

Moving on though, we’ve looked at two of the groups represented in this passage. We’ve looked at Christ through Himself and the Christ followers now we come to the third group in this passage…the Christ haters. Not going to go into great detail with the remainder of this passage because this will be covered in future posts as we go through the rest of the chapter so I am just going to summarize the rest of this passage. These are the supposed “lovers of God”. As Jesus is telling the people that He is the light of the world, the Pharisees are flashing back to the passages of their scriptures and the Illumination of the Temple ceremony and what it represented and realized that this guy, who they only saw Jesus as…a man, was claiming to be their God! That of course did not sit well with them and they pipe up immediately. You bear witness of Yourself and Your witness is not true, verse 13, the Pharisees argue back. The Pharisees now bring up a legal point by reminding Him that He is testifying about Himself. According to their scriptures and their law, it was required to have two or more witnesses before something could be considered to be true. A person’s own testimony without witnesses was considered to be biased.

In verse 14, The Lord recognized that usually it was necessary to have two or three witnesses. But in His case, His witness was absolutely true because He is God. The miracles that He had performed up to that point; turning water into wine, the healing of the man at the pool, feeding of the 5,000; all of that and more, proved that. Jesus then tells them that He knows where He came from, that would be heaven, and where He was going, that would also be heaven. Jesus never doubted what His mission was on earth. He knew why He was there, what would happen to Him, and what would happen afterwards.

To finish out the passage, Jesus tells them that they judge according to the flesh meaning that they judged by outward appearances but also that He judges no one…at least not yet. The purpose of His mission the first time was not to judge men but to save them. When He returns, He will be our judge and that judgement will be true because He is God. Jesus does not judge by human standards. He will judge by what is in our hearts and our motives. A look at one more verse…verse 19. …

v 19 – (19) Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”

When the Pharisees asked Jesus, Where is your Father, it wasn’t for informational purposes. It was asked to taunt Him. By this time, rumors had been flying that the birth of Jesus was an illegitimate birth. There’s a good chance that when they asked Jesus this question they were looking around the crowd scornfully. The fact is that the Pharisees did not know Him or His Father. No one can know God the Father except through Jesus Christ. Thus, their rejection of the Savior made it impossible for them to honestly claim that they knew and loved God. I will go into further detail of what all of this means in future posts on this chapter because this discourse continues throughout the chapter.

I want to close this post with two points. The first one is that we, as believers in Christ, are the light of the world as well! Follow me here for a second before you get bent out of shape. While Jesus was here on earth, He was the light of the world and He said so, quite a few times. Look at what He says though as we flip back to Matthew and chapter 5 down to verse 14. Jesus says…

(14) “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. … Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV

Jesus is telling us now that He is gone, we are to be the light to this world. How do we do this? Number one by our actions. It has been said that people who do not believe in Jesus either have never met a Christian or they have met a Christian. Do you get this? Either we don’t tell or show others the love of Christ or they are repulsed by our behavior and our actions because they know we are Christians. In other words, actions speak louder than words. Want people to become Christians? Then we need to start acting like one! We can’t just gaze upon the light of Christ, we must show that light to others!

The second point is when Jesus is loved and accepted, He becomes light to you but when He is spurned and rejected, He becomes darkness to you. Going back to the pillar of fire that guided the Hebrews in the wilderness that was celebrated at the temple every year, on the Hebrews side, that pillar of fire lit up the way for them. They didn’t have to stumble around in the darkness. In Exodus 14, it points out though that same pillar of fire became a buffer between them and the Egyptians who were chasing them and trying to hunt them down. Look at what the text says…

(19) And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. (20) So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. … Exodus 14:19-20 NKJV

By the way, guess who the Angel of God is. None other than Jesus Christ! Same cloud but different effect depending on the point of view. Light to those who follow, darkness for those who don’t. The question you need to ask is what side of that cloud do you want to be on? If you don’t know Jesus Christ, if you’re on that dark side of the cloud, you can change that today and what a better time to do it than the season celebrating His birth! Just pray this simple short prayer. Remember it really doesn’t matter what you say. What matters is that what you say comes from your heart!…

“Dear Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer with your heart, then you are saved and are assured eternity in heaven and if you did, I would love to hear from you! Just a simple, “I prayed the prayer!” is all you have to say and I will know what you mean! Just e-mail me at admin@gettingintogodsword.com. I truly hope you prayed that prayer!

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for the light of Your Son Jesus Christ, the true and only Light of the world. We pray Father that during this Christmas season and into the new year, that Light would shine and open up hearts that do not know Him. Father we also pray that for those of us who are in Christ, that we would learn to walk more in that Light and not just gaze upon it.  In the saving name of Jesus we pray…Amen!