Our lesson this week is the second lesson within the final unit of lesson of this quarter which, again, is titled – By His Teachings. As we saw last week, we are to live by every word of God. When we live by His word, we will not be led astray. In our lesson this week, Jesus backs up the fact that His word is the truth.
I am the Light of the World
Our lesson opens with Jesus proclaiming to the religious leaders, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (v.12).” What a proclamation this is from Christ!
John opened his gospel speaking about Jesus being the Word of God (John 1:1). Afterwards, he then spoke about how John the Baptist bore witness of the Light — the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world (John 1:7).
Whenever I have preached or taught this scripture, I have always pointed out what light does. Think about it for a moment, what does light do? When you enter a dark room and turn the lights on, what does the light do? It reveals everything in the room.
Our lesson opens up in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths/Sukkot) celebration. You may recall that this celebratory feast was a memorial celebration for the days of Israel dwelling in booths in the wilderness and how God brought them to the land of promise. This celebration lasted for a full week and in our scripture today, Jesus had been teaching in the temple each day of the celebration.
On this particular day, midway through the week, Jesus went to the temple to teach and had special guests, the religious leaders. The religious leaders came to Jesus with a woman that they had caught in the act of adultery, and they desired for Jesus to stone her (John 8:2-11).
Jesus said to them, that if any of them were without sin, they should cast the first stone. None of them were without sin and so none of them could cast a stone. I would point out to you that none of them could judge the woman with the judgment that they desired to. However, because He was without sin, Jesus certainly could have cast a stone but as the Lord does, Jesus does — He was merciful.
So, when Jesus proclaimed to be the light of the world, afterwards, what truth did He reveal to them? May I suggest to you that Jesus revealed that the Lord is a merciful and a forgiving God? As I preached for a month and a half in my latest series of sermons, God loves us and is merciful; He loves us because He is faithful to Himself.
In this mercy, Jesus had said to the women, “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” The truth is that Jesus was not sent to our world, the first time around, to condemn the world but to save the world. The truth is that whoever chooses to believe in Christ will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16-17).
Discerning the truth
Now, the Pharisees, once again, did not like the authority by which Jesus spoke. Jesus was saying to the people that His words were the truth, but the Pharisees said, “Your witness is not true (v.13).” In the Pharisees’ mind, Jesus had nobody to back up His statements and because of this, His truth should be questioned or were simply not true.
Their thinking has always been the mindset of mankind. If someone tells us about something that we did not see for ourselves, it is rare that we will simply believe them. You see, most of us want to see or hear something from the source and if that is not possible, we would want someone to back up the second-hand story.
Jesus, in a manner of speaking, some could say was revealing to mankind what the Father gave to Him to reveal; so they may say He was giving second-hand information. However, I would point out that Jesus is God manifested in the flesh. Jesus, coming from eternity, was able to give first-hand information about eternity. The problem for the religious leaders is that they could not accept Jesus being the Son of God, or God in the flesh.
So, as I just explained, we will see Jesus say to the Pharisees, “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 (v.14).”
If we think about this for a moment, it is not up to the person that gives any information to you to believe what they may have seen or heard. You see, if I saw or heard something and I shared that information with you, I know what I saw or heard with my eyes and ears. The onus, therefore, is on you to either believe me or not.
So, Jesus essentially says to the Pharisees, and to the world as well, ‘I know what I have seen and you just have to believe Me or not.’ But again, as Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees, the reason why they could not see the truth was because they were thinking worldly (v.15). The Pharisees craved to hold on to their power and this craving, along with the fact that they hated Jesus, blinded them from being able to discern the truth.
In order for you to see the truth of Christ, you cannot think worldly; worldly thinking is simply incapable of ever being able to know Christ because worldliness is contrary to Him. Again, as Paul stated to the Corinthians, in order for one to know that Jesus is Lord, they have to be led to this truth by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). The Pharisees had the law and had they actually attempted to live in the truth of the Mosaic law, they would have recognized Christ right away.
The Pharisees said that Jesus had nobody to prove that what He was saying was the truth, but Jesus said that He certainly did have one that could bear witness of Him. Jesus said that His Father, who sent Him, was with Him and could bear witness of Him (vss.16-18). The Pharisees, after hearing that, looked around and asked, “where is your Father?”
Jesus responded to the Pharisees, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also (v.19).” John writes that, at that time, the Pharisees did nothing to Jesus when He said that His Father is the Father (v.20). I believe John makes this statement because in a few chapters prior, at another confrontation, the religious sought more to kill Jesus when He claimed to be the Son of the Father (John 5:16-17).
Now, in the gospels, we will see Jesus speak more about His witnesses in greater detail where we see His witness is fourfold. In John 5, we will see where Jesus said that John the Baptist gave witness of Him (John 5:33). Jesus said that He had even greater witnesses than John the Baptist and they are: Himself and the works He did (John 5:36); His Father (John 5:37); the word of God – Scripture (John 5:38-39).
The reason why the religious leaders could not accept the witness of Christ is because they rejected the fourfold witness. We will recall that religious leaders had John the Baptist arrested and killed. The religious leaders had the law but they didn’t truly live by the law that God gave; they bent and twisted to something they could lord over.
By not truly living by the law, they were rejecting the Father which made it easier for them to reject the Father’s only begotten Son; this is why Jesus said that the Pharisees did not know the Father. So, Jesus cried out, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me (vss.44-45).”
The concept of the Godhead was foreign to the religious leaders and it was not one they were willing to accept. The Godhead, we know, is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some like to think of the Godhead as a hierarchy where one is over the other; they like to think of the Father being God only. However, the truth of the matter is that all three persons are God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) and all three are equal to each other.
Jesus, again, stated that He came as a light into the world and that whoever believes in Him should not abide in darkness. When you abide in the light of Christ, you are not ignorant to all that is around you because His light reveals all truth. So, knowledge like the Godhead, is revealed and understood by those who abide in His light. The truth His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation is also revealed to all who abide in the light of Christ.