The Light of the World! – John 8:12-20
By Lee Hemen
May 3, 2015
People seem to be always searching for who they are; but what does that really mean? We can exercise to change our body shape. We can educate ourselves in order to change our intellectual state. And, we can meditate to try and change our spiritual state, but none of these truly change who we intrinsically are. Paul would write, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature” and in fact he understood that “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 7:18; 8:5 NIV)” We are what we are, sinners by nature and by choice, and the only means by which we can change our innermost self is by coming by faith to the one who created us in the first place. Again, Paul wrote, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8:8 NIV)”
Thankfully, Jesus understood exactly who he was and what he was supposed to with his life. Here in John’s Gospel we find him beginning to expose to the folks exactly who is was and what that meant for the whole world. His depiction teaches us that he is the light of the world. Let’s discover for ourselves what that meant and what it means for us today.
John began his writing by reminding us, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:4-5 NIV)” And here we find Jesus openly telling the crowds…
I. He is the Light of the World! (Vv. 12-14)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.
1. The Prophet Isaiah predicted the Messiah, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)” That light is the light of the world. John related that after his actions in the temple courts, “Jesus spoke again to the people.” He was not finished with what he wanted to share and his pronouncement must have startled them. He boldly states, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” His tie into what Isaiah had predicted would not be lost on them. Jesus is declaring that he is not just someone imparting the truth of God’s word; he is “the light of the world.” He is the illumination a sinful world needs. And interestingly, the Feast of Tabernacles included the lighting of giant lamps in the Court of the Women in the temple area. Their light was to remind the Jewish people of how God was with them in their wanderings in the wilderness in a pillar fire at night (Numbers 9:15-23). Jesus’ light is different however because “whoever follows” Jesus would “never walk in darkness” again! The darkness Jesus is referring to is sin, and in fact they will “have the light of life”, meaning eternal life. “Light” in the Bible is a symbol or reference of God and His holiness. Jesus is “the Light,” the only light and not merely a glimmering or another bright spot among many lights. Of course, “The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.'” They knew Jesus was indeed testifying to the fact he was the Messiah! Self-confirmation would be considered pride in the extreme in this case; however Jesus also had the testimony of God the Father. This is why “Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.'” His accusers had no clue that he was the Light of the world!
EXAMPLE: Many folks today have no idea what it means for Jesus to be the Light of the World. Because of his holiness, his presence, and his authority Jesus can change those who place their faith and trust in him. He changes them from the world of sin and darkness into the realm of God’s holiness and truth. This is why John wrote, “In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:4 NIV)” Jesus would say that those who “walk in darkness do not know where they are going” and that “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:34, 46 NIV)” In our day of electricity we are shocked when the lights go out because we depend so much on it to see by. So we light candles, uses battery-powered lanterns, or huddle in the dark and go to bed. Yet far too many are not saddened by their own spiritual darkness and become satisfied making their own pathetic dwindling flame. Fake light cannot outshine the true light of God and Jesus is the Light of the World!
There is an old saying that “ignorance is bliss” and while this may be true for some things, where it concerns eternal things, it can be deadly. We discover here in John’s gospel that…
II. Some never see the Light! (Vv. 15-20)
You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.
1. The problem with Jesus’ detractors was that they were judging “by human standards.” They saw Jesus as a perhaps a good deluded person like so many others who had claimed to be the Messiah but had died. However, Jesus was not here to do so; he did not pass judgment on anyone! Jesus’ judgment concerned more of how God’s teachings were being perverted and how he needed to introduce them again to who God truly was personally. The Jews had a hard time understanding the personal nature of God because for them god was someone you tried to please by strictly following his rules. This simply was not true. So, Jesus addresses their argument concerning his testimony, “But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.” Literally he was telling them he and God stood side-by-side on the same level! And in fact he tells them, “In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself, my other witness is the Father, who sent me!” While their judgment was humanly oriented, biased and limited by their sinfulness, his was not. He was with God! We see here how Jesus tells them of this other witnesses; he was not alone in his testimony. He stood right beside the Father. His testimony therefore was completely valid! Curiously they ask him, “Where is your father?” Were they puzzled about his personal teaching, were they being sarcastic and thought his earthly father was already dead, or perhaps they believed something else. Whatever their reasoning, they did not know Jesus nor his Father, because if they had known Jesus, they would have known his Father was God. I believe that perhaps they did indeed understand what Jesus was referring to and they did not like what they knew he was teaching about himself, so they sarcastically ask where his father is. Again, interestingly this was all mute in that while “He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.” Jesus was working on God’s timing and not his enemy’s. Some never see the Light!
EXAMPLE: I have one of those emergency radios with a light that you can wind up. I also have one that is just a flashlight from IKEA that you wind and use, but even though you pump or wind them like mad, they only last for a few minutes at best. Sadly, as I stated earlier, some never see the light of God. They try to illuminate their spirituality with artificial light. They try to live good lives, think good thoughts, or do good things and perhaps all three at the same time! Yet the sad truth is that if these things could bring us closer to God, make us intrinsically good people, or make the world a better place — Jesus did not have to come and die on a cross and rise from the dead! Instead of understanding the testimony, the witness of God himself in the form of Jesus, they rely on their own distorted ideas concerning eternal truth! Again, this is why John began his gospel, his testimony concerning Jesus with, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:4-5 NIV)” Sadly, some never see the Light!
Jesus is the Light of the World! Some never see the Light!
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.