This week as John continues with the events that took place on the eighth day (Lev 23:36), let’s be mindful that this day was set aside for a recapitulation of what was taught during the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles. The rest of John 8 takes place in the Court of the Women, where the treasury was located (v 20).Father in heaven, the treasures of your everlasting gospel are beyond description and without equal. Give us understanding as we read your precious word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
12 ¶ Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Jesus is the light of the world. I wonder if perhaps the sunrise was just beginning to shine on Jesus’ face as He spoke these words (v 2). Surely the light from the 75’ tall oil lamps that were lit during the Feast of Tabernacles was still fresh in the minds of the people. By calling Himself the light of the world Jesus is comparing Himself to the sun, a symbol of Jehovah (Ps 84:11; Mal 4:2). Given that Jesus made this proclamation on the eighth day, is it possible that this is an allusion to the eighth millennium? Then they [will] need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever (Rev 22:5).
This is the second of Jesus’ seven great I AM statements in John’s Gospel:
I am the bread of life
I am the light of the world
I am the door
I am the good shepherd
I am the resurrection and the life
I am the way, the truth, and the life
I am the vine
When Solomon dedicated the temple, the same Shekhinah glory that filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34) filled the temple (2 Chron 7:1). However, by the time of Herod’s temple, the glory had long since departed (Ez 10:18). The 75’ tall oil lamps in the Court of the Women merely simulated the glory that filled the temple in days gone by, but Jesus’ presence in the temple was an even greater glory than the Shekhinah (Hag 2:9).
13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
Jesus had the witness of John the Baptist, but He does not mention him. He gets right to the heart of the matter with the witness of his Father. (v 18; cf Matt 3:17)
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
The Pharisees judged according to the law, ie after the flesh; In John 5:22, Jesus said the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son: but not at his first coming. Jesus is reserving judgment for later. Even his condemnations against the Pharisees are more like constructive criticisms than final judgments. He had no other choice because they forced his hand by accusing Him.
17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Where all cults fall short is in the gospel truth that Jesus is God. Jesus says you have to believe I am (Ex 3:14; cf v 58), or else you will die in your sins. The ‘he’ is in italics, meaning it was added by the translators to improve the syntax or help reveal other shades of meaning. Jesus was not only calling attention to his divinity as the I am but also as the Messiah: I am he. (1)
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up [crucified] the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
In other words, when the Father blots out the sun for three hours; when they see the thunder and lightning and feel the earthquake; when the veil in the temple is rent in twain from top to bottom; when the graves are opened and their ancestors roam the city; when Jesus rises again on the third day in fulfillment of the Scriptures; then they will know that Jesus is the Messiah, the I am.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
One of the first things I learned about computers was what is know as an ‘if then’ statement, which is a basic coding technique used in BASIC programming. (Yes this was a long time ago.) If a criterion is met, then the computer will execute a specified command. For example, IF y+x=8 THEN PRINT “yes”. You might say verses 31 and 32 contain an ‘if then’ statement. If you continue in Jesus’ word, then you are his disciple indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. This immutable principle is forever engraved in Jesus’ sacred word, his divine code of grace and justice. It’s true and it works. Invariably. Eternally. (2) Verse 31 begins with belief, which is the first key. The second key is to continue in Jesus’ word. Some translations say abide, meaning to live in his word. In Chapter 6, Jesus asked the disciples if they would also go away (John 6:67). If you stop reading the Bible, then you are not continuing in his word. In other words, you’re ‘going away’. If that is the case, Jesus is waiting for you to come back (Luke 15:20). The Bible is the journal of record for the person of Jesus Christ. It is his autobiography, co-written through the Holy Ghost. (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21) The Bible chronicles Jesus’ role in the creation of the world, his preincarnate ministry to mankind, his life and times following his Advent, his death and resurrection, his ascension, his second coming, and his future glory as KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. As believers, it is our privilege to be part of this story, to be fellowheirs and partakers of the promise (Eph 3:6). This is made possible through the part of the story where Jesus gave his undefiled flesh and shed his sinless blood as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. That is the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33 ¶ They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Never in bondage? At that very moment they were in bondage to Rome. They had also been in bondage to the Babylonians, the Assyrians, seven other nations in the days of the Judges, and of course, the Egyptians for 400 years. Saying such a thing shows that they were blind guides indeed. (Matt 15:14; 23:16, 24)
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
Jesus does not mention the Roman garrison that was deployed in Jerusalem; the real issue was that they were slaves to sin. Despite their meticulous attempts to keep the law, Jesus said they strained at gnats and swallowed camels.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
It’s true that they were Abraham’s seed (v 33) according to the flesh (Rom 4:1), but to be a true Jew is a matter of the heart, not of the flesh (Rom 2:29). Jesus acknowledges that they are Abraham’s seed (v 37), but being Abraham’s children is a different matter entirely.
40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
The Pharisees are playing by the rules of their father, the father of lies. There had always been whispers about the shotgun wedding between Joseph and Mary and the Pharisees just implied that Jesus is a bastard. That was a serious accusation in those days. The law had strict measures that excluded certain individuals from serving in the temple or being listed in the official temple registry. (Lev 21:17-21; Deut 23:2) Under grace, however, everyone is welcome. (Luke 14:21) Regardless, Jesus is the legitimate Son of God through the Holy Spirit and a legitimate son of Abraham through Mary. The enemy’s MO is always to invert the truth. It was the Pharisees who were illegitimate. Jesus is calling attention to this fact in verse 41 and He is just getting started. He will have more to say on the subject next week.
At the beginning of his Gospel, John said the true Light of Jesus lighteth every man that comes into the world (John 1:9), referring to the first birth. Jesus began the section above by saying if we follow Him, we will have the light of life (v 12), referring to the second birth. If you are only born once, you will have to die twice (Rev 21:8); if you are born twice, you will only have to die once (Rev 20:6).
The darkness Jesus warned of (v 12) seems to be increasing exponentially, while Jesus, the light of the world, shines brighter and brighter. Any photographer can tell you that the darker the negative, the brighter the positive is. The black backdrop of current events therefore makes the light of the gospel that much brighter. Our current state of affairs rivals the situation we had in the sixties with the urban riots and the war in Vietnam, but there is one important detail that needs to be considered when making this comparison. I was recently listening to an old J Vernon McGee sermon from circa 1965, titled The Death Rattle of a Nation. In his message, Dr McGee cited Dr Edward A Strecker who stated “the national sickness in the US is a dangerous increase in emotional immaturity.” Much has been written about how the watershed events of the sixties changed America forever. However, at that time there was a national consciousness concerning the destruction of our civil liberties. Important issues of the day were vigorously debated on college campuses. Free speech was still considered sacred. Freedom of speech and freedom of thought are now banned on college campuses. The “national sickness” of “emotional immaturity” that Dr Strecker observed has snowballed out of control. Meanwhile, travel restrictions like the ones they have in China based on social credit scores are being phased in here in the US. Urban areas are descending into chaos, now that looters have been given the green light to do as they please. Neo-Brownshirt Sturmabteilung squads, aka Antifa, beat and terrorize those who resist the perversion of the new world order. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sings joyfully about how they are corrupting our children. We are only just beginning to see the fallout from the toxic COVID shots as they tell us door-to-door vaccine “strike forces” are coming. HR 666, the “Anti-Racism in Public Health Act of 2021,” and HR 6666, the “COVID–19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act,” were recently introduced, presumably to mobilize said “strike forces.” (What started as two weeks to ‘flatten the curve’ is now a pseudo-scientific takeover of society.) It is clearer than ever where all this is headed and there is only one way of escape. That way is through faith in Jesus Christ. It is more important than ever that we as Christians let our lights shine. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
In closing, consider the darkness of Jesus’ day. A Roman soldier could nab you at any time and demand you stop whatever it was you were doing to carry his pack for him, up to one mile. Public crucifixions were common. Yet the light of the world offered a way out for any and all who would repent, which simply means to change your mind. The Roman centurion, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the demoniac, the thief on the cross, Barabbas the murderer, Jesus readily forgave each of these people and died in their places, paying the penalty for their sins. He will forgive you too. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John wrote that the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not, but in Christ we have riches beyond our wildest dreams. Remember who you are: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
…..Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
…..Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
…..Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
1 I am confident that Jesus stands behind his word in its entirety, including the words in italics:
2 Some may say that my points here are moot because ‘then’ is in italics in verse 31, and therefore not in the original manuscript. However, Jesus accepted the words in italics, and therefore so do I:
…..Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
…..I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
The next time someone tries to persuade you that you do not have God’s inspired word because it is only a translation, ask him why then did God choose to give us the words of Jesus in Greek? The originals themselves were translations of what was said in the original Aramaic. God created languages (Gen 11:9) and He knows how to use them effectively (Acts 2:7-11).