In the first lesson of this quarter, I referenced in the first chapter where the apostle John called Jesus, “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world (John 1:9).” This means that Jesus came to us as someone that revealed hope and truth in a world of darkness. The darkness could not comprehend the Light (John 1:5). We are going to see that illustrated further in our lesson this week. This week’s lesson is being taught from John 8:12-27.
Before the opening of our lesson, Jesus had just had a meeting, you can say, with the scribes and the Pharisees. (The verses skipped at the start of this chapter are not required reading for our lesson today but I do suggest reading them). At this ‘meeting’, the scribes and Pharisees had brought to Jesus a woman caught in the act of committing adultery. I’m not going to go over that whole meeting; I just wanted to make mention of Jesus having already been dealing with the scribes and Pharisees prior to our lesson this week.
In fact, if you were to turn back to the chapter prior, you’ll see that Jesus was in Jerusalem. By this point in time, you’ll see that the Jews sought to kill Jesus (John 7:1). When they brought the woman to Jesus, He had just been teaching in the temple (John 8:1)! So, when we get over into our lesson for today, keep those things in mind as to the kind of people that Jesus was dealing with.
The Light of the World
The very first verse in our lesson this week is Jesus telling the same scribes and Pharisees that He is the light of the world (v.12). Again, they sought Jesus in this instance to actually stone and kill this woman. Yet, Jesus took that very opportunity to reveal the way to both the woman and those religious leaders. What He revealed in this moment is that we all have mercy and the opportunity to get right when it comes to the Lord.
Those religious leaders were supposed to be representatives (stewards) of the Lord, yet their actions were actions of evil. Jesus showed mercy here and He also showed forgiveness – His way is a way of love. Jesus said in that same verse, “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness.
We, who are true believers, say that we follow Jesus – which is to say that we are followers that keep the way of Christ. So, in saying this, we should mean that we are keeping a way of love. In this way, we should be merciful and also have forgiveness towards our neighbors. It is a way of truth and we should always strive to keep His way.
This did not sit well with those religious leaders. No, they did not stone the woman, but they certainly disputed Jesus’ proclamation about being the light of the world. They say to Jesus, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true (v.13).” In their minds, they determine that there is no way that Jesus could be the light of the world. The interesting thing is how could they actually determine whether or not Jesus’ witness was true or false?
I preached a sermon a couple Sunday’s ago about truths – Be Careful of Who You Follow. I spoke of three truths: subjective truth, objective truth, and the absolute truth. Go and take a look at that sermon if you have not so that you can dive deeper into understanding those truths.
These men were trying to use their idea of the truth with Jesus and frankly, our idea of the truth does not come close to touching Jesus! Jesus, God in the flesh, is so far beyond our logic and way of thinking. His truth is absolute truth because He is righteous! In His righteousness, everything He says or does is right. Therefore, we cannot argue with Him! We can converse with Him, but we certainly cannot argue with Him to the point that we would win the argument! These religious men were in for a rude awakening.
We are going to see Jesus respond to the religious leaders’ ‘truth’ in the next few verses (vss.14-18). The first thing Jesus says to them is “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going (v.14).” Jesus goes right to the matter of explaining why He is the light of the world.
You see, you and I, when we are born into the world, we cannot spiritually be a light in the world. Why? Because we are of the world. We are born of two human parents – both who were also born of humans. Mankind, sadly, is of sin by default; it is a part of our being. So, residing inside of us is darkness.
Jesus, on the other hand, is divine. As we studied in the first lesson of the quarter, we know that Jesus was present in the beginning, and was with God, and was God. As I have said several times, God placed a piece of Himself into the womb of Mary, and through her womb, the divine was born into our world. God is divine; there is no darkness in Him. Therefore, there is no darkness in Christ. God is light (1 John 1:5). Therefore, His only begotten Son, who is Him, is also light.
Again, none of this was known to these men that were disputing Jesus’ proclamation. Which again makes you wonder just how they could charge that Jesus’ witness was not true. Jesus knew exactly where He came from and He also knew where He would return once His physical life in the world came to an end. Frankly, it was silly of these men to try and dispute Jesus’ truth and the same can be said for those who choose to dispute His divine absolute truth.
Jesus does not call those religious leaders silly, but we see Him tell them plainly, “you judge according to the flesh (v.15)”. This, sadly, is an error that’s still being made in our world today. In the past, I have also preached about using “worldly logic” with God and, again, this simply just does not work. We cannot use our subjective and objective truths when it comes to God. The Lord is beyond us! You either accept Him or reject Him.
These men were choosing not to believe Jesus’ witness of Himself. They judged Him to be a liar. Jesus tells them, “I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me (vss.16, 18).” All of this Jesus says to show accordance to the Mosaic Law (v.17). The Mosaic Law said, “the testimony of two men is true (Deut. 17:6; 19:15).” So, it was now on the religious leaders to accept the witness of Jesus and the Father in heaven or reject them and the Mosaic Law!
The religious leaders respond to Jesus by asking Him, “where is your Father (v.19)?” We see that these men are still thinking worldly in their response to Jesus. In their heads, they were saying that Jesus’ Father was not present at that moment. Still not understanding that Jesus was talking about His heavenly Father. Jesus, again, expresses to these men within that same verse, just how lost in the darkness they were. Remember, these are the same men that could not recognize John the Baptist in the first lesson of this quarter. There was absolutely no way they would recognize Christ because they were too deep in the world – there was no seeing the true Light.
Those of darkness will not enter God’s kingdom
I think the most consequential thing you can pull from this lesson is what Jesus said next to those religious leaders. Jesus says, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.” To me, this is so consequential to those men and still to those living in our world today.
In this and His following statements, Jesus says that those who are in (and of) sin cannot go where He is going (vss.21-24). Why could those religious leaders not go where Jesus was going? They were thinking that Jesus was talking about a place here on Earth, but Jesus was talking about His Father’s house – heaven. They could not go to heaven because on that day they were choosing sin over heaven.
Was it sin to dispute Jesus? Not necessarily. (Many of us question the Lord daily). The sin was not even the fact that they initially called Jesus a liar. No, the sin was that they chose to reject Him instead of believe Him once the divine truth was revealed to them. So, the light revealed the truth to those religious leaders, but instead of stepping into the light, they chose to remain in darkness.
God stopped dwelling with man in the garden when darkness entered into man. He is not going to allow darkness to enter His eternal kingdom. Those religious leaders were filled with darkness and would not enter into God’s kingdom. By the way, those religious leaders were Jews and, again, were religious “leaders”. Understand: this truth is still true for all of those living in our world today.
Who are you?
The religious leaders were left with asking Jesus one last question – “Who are you (v.25)?” This reminds me so much of the conversation that John the Baptist had with the scribes and Levites who were sent to John by these same religious leaders (John 1:19-28). Jesus responded, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.”
I believe that Jesus was very clear with those religious leaders as to who He was. We have seen Him tell them plainly that He was the light of the world. Jesus told them of His witness and who it was that was a witness of Him very plainly. He also told them plainly, “You are of this world; I am not of this world (v.23).” The key point to all of this, John says, “they did not understand Him.”
Why could they not understand what Jesus was saying? It was because they were ruled by the darkness and again, darkness can not comprehend the light. This is honestly a lesson that should warn all people about falling further into the darkness. I do believe it’s too possible to get so far along into the dark you won’t be able to see the light. Once you lose sight of the light, there’s no getting out of that darkness. The religious leaders had gotten themselves too far into the dark. So, we should seek our way into the true Light so long as we can see it, and then continue walking in that light.