this meeting between Christ, the Pharisees and the crowd, Christ lays out for
us the great division between those who follow him and those who oppose him.
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.”
13The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you
are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
14Jesus 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. 15You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I
stand with the Father, who sent me. 17In your own Law it is written that the
testimony of two men is valid. 18I am one who testifies for myself; my other
witness is the Father, who sent me.”
19Then they asked him, “Where is your
“You do not know me or my
Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father
also.” 20He 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.
21Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me,
and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
22This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill
himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where
I go, you cannot come’?”
23But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You
are of this world; I am not of this world. 24I told you that
you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to
be,£ you will indeed die in your sins.”
25“Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been claiming
all along,” Jesus replied. 26“I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is
reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
27They did not understand that he was
telling them about his Father. 28So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man,
then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my
own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I
always do what pleases him.” 30Even
as he spoke, many put their faith in him.
31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus
said, “If you hold to my
teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth
will set you free.”
33They answered him, “We are Abraham’s
descendants£ and have never been slaves of anyone. How
can you say that we shall be set free?”
34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is
a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the
family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son
sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know you are
Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room
for my word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the
Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.£”
39“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s
children,” said Jesus, “then you would£ do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the
truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the things your own father does.”
“We are not illegitimate
children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.
43Why is my language not clear to you? Because
you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and
you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the
beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he
lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth,
why don’t you believe me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says.
The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
48The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in
saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
49“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it,
and he is the judge. 51I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my
word, he will never see death.”
52At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know
that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say
that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the
prophets. Who do you think you are?”
54Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means
nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would
be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw
it and was glad.”
57“You are not yet fifty years old,” the
Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
58“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone
him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John
The claims of Christ
Light: the analogy
is a fairly common metaphor even in our day: “I saw the light.” Hank Williams,
a pained soul and one of the greats of country music, put the phrase into the
English language. It came from the Scripture, as so much in country music
its nature has fascinated mankind for millennia. Let us focus our attention on
three aspects of light, by analogy.
is used for measurement. We say that we “hold something up to the light”
when we want to know more about it. By such we mean that we are
determining the true nature of a thing.
is used for direction. We say that an event “lit up the path” or “lit up
the landscape” to mean that we obtained insight into which way we should
is used for understanding, particularly in time of trouble. We might say
that someone “is my light” during troubled times.
Christ as light
this passage Christ identifies himself as the light of the world. We can
understand him in the same three senses:
he is righteous, he is qualified to judge us. He did not come to judge
us, but by making this clear he also shows us that he could – and some day
will. His precepts, therefore, should be our standard of measurement.
knows the direction in which we should go, for he came from God and
returned to him. All who seek eternal life must go to him.
he sets us free, if we are his disciples. He is the light we look to in
this troubled world.
Jesus, the Son of God
this passage he explicitly tells us that he is indeed the son of God. He
claims God as his Father – which, biologically, is perfectly true. It’s also perfectly
true in any other sense. We see these aspects to Sonship here:
tells us that God explicitly sent him to us. He is “from above” (that is,
from heaven) as we are not.
see also the perfect obedience of the Son. This is seen in two ways, both
examples to us. First, Jesus does what pleases God. (Obedience is the
key to understanding God). Next, what God tells Jesus, Jesus tells the
world. Do we hide the light under a bushel basket?
is “with” Jesus – as seen in the many miracles he did.
– particularly because of the Crucifixion – God glorifies Jesus, the
family resemblance is worth noting.
the very last section of this Scripture you see one thing clearly: Jesus of
Nazareth claims to be God. Not just “a god” but the God Jehovah, the I AM of
the Old Testament, the only God that ever was, is or will be. His enemies
understand this clearly enough: they try to stone him. It is the Old
Testament punishment for blasphemy. In any other mouth such a phrase is
blasphemy (not to mention ridiculous). Only one man has ever made it stick.
is useful to note that Jesus never inspired anyone to be a fence-sitter. When
people meet the living Christ, they choose up sides quickly. In this passage
Jesus lays out for us the characteristics of – indeed, the charges against –
those who oppose him. See if you recognize anyone here.
Judgment by human standards
is divine judgment and human judgment. Human judgment is seen here; it is the
judgment which is most convenient to self.
shows no mercy on others, but is very lenient to self.
is very legalistic. It is unfortunate for others, but we must follow the
law. One man’s loophole is another man’s escape.
human judgment, appearances are everything. We fear to appear too lax on
criminals, so our prisons bulge. But we are merciful to the beautiful.
important: the righteousness of our judgment is our own. We decide what
is right and wrong. It is based upon us – and therefore crumbles when we
Do not know the Father
you ever listen to the opponents of Christ, it will not take long to hear, “I
don’t believe a loving God could ever….” Listen carefully; it is an admission
that they do not know God. That’s why they are the opponents of Jesus and his
church; they know only the imaginary God. God’s attributes, visible and
invisible, can be known – but only by those willing to seek them out. Those
who seek them out will soon see that Jesus is the human representation of them.
Where I go, you cannot come
is an interesting way of stating it. Jesus tells them quite simply that where
he is going (heaven) they can’t come – but they will look for him.
they will look for him? Certainly they will. There is an innate desire
in man to have fellowship with God. We are born with it.
unless we follow Jesus, that innate desire will go unquenched. Seek as
you might in this world, it cannot be done. How many do you know who
constantly are looking for a new guru to lead them, this time one for
Your Father is not…
see, all of this hinges on just which family you belong to. Are you of this
world, or of God? Just who is your Father? (Kindly note: these people did
believe in heredity! And they understood that you might be mistaken about the
father, but not the mother).
could be, in this time, a “child of Abraham.” The phrase means more than
biological descendant; it means one who follows Abraham’s ways. Consider
this: suppose you know and love someone who is very righteous. When the
perfect righteousness comes along, you recognize it – because of your
experience. So if you are such a child, Christ comes and you see your
could be, then and now, a child of God. Perhaps you have some imperfect
revelation of God. When the real thing comes along, you know it.
Following him is quite natural.
you could also be a child of Satan.
would you know? Jesus gives us three characteristics which Satan passes on to
is the accuser. Have you ever noticed that those who deny Christ are the
first to accuse? The way you defend abortion is to demonize those
opposed to it.
is the father of liars – and the father of lies. May we take again the
abortion movement? It was sold on the idea that there were 55,000 deaths
each year from illegal abortions! How many were there? In the year
preceding Roe v. Wade, there were 13. Not 13,000. 13.
they are murderers. Enough said.
can see this in Jesus’ time too. They didn’t believe the truth when it was in
front of them, but accused him of horrible things (demon possession). They
could not do this in truth, but that posed no barrier to them. If you don’t
like the message, kill the Messenger.
Promises to the disciples
began with the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to be the very God in the flesh. We
have examined the characteristics of his opponents; we now examine the
promises he made here to his disciples.
Knowing the difference
how do you know you are his disciple? Anyone can go through the ritual of
baptism. What’s the real indicator?
understand the answer, you must first understand the slavery of sin. Sin holds
us in a tight grip. Like the alcoholic, we cannot give up the sin that
dominates us. We keep going back to it.
gives us the test of Christ. If we continue to obey his teachings, the slavery
of sin is broken in us. The true test of the disciple is obedience. Do we do
what he commands?
might quibble; suppose this, or that. Remember that judgment is done “in the
light.” Take the sin in your life to the Lord of Light; let him pass judgment
on it and remove it from you.
The light of life
we have light, then surely our three metaphorical ways of using it will still
will be able to measure accurately in all things spiritual. We will know
if it fits or not.
will be given direction
will know how to escape the wrong and seek the right.
beyond this, Jesus tells us that we will never see death. Life after this
mortal body is guaranteed by the one who knows how.
Know the truth…. Truth will set you free
32 is inscribed on the Liberty Bell. What does Christ mean when he says we
shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free?
in God’s terms, is the ability to do what we are designed to do. A dancer
with a broken leg is not free. Each of us understands that freedom in a
different way, but all of us were designed to be in fellowship with God
forever. That is freedom; being what we were designed to be.
then, is truth? Pontius Pilate asked the question rather flippantly; we
should be a bit more serious. Truth is one of the attributes of God. If
you know truth, you know (at least in some measure) God.
then are we set free? Well, how are prisoners set free? They pay the
penalty of their crimes, and then some agency of the governor authorizes
their release. We have a much better freedom. The penalty for sin is
death – but Jesus has paid that penalty. Upon this, the authority (that
is, God) pronounces our debt paid – and us free.
in the light. Measure yourself always by God’s standards; seek his will and
his Word to direct your paths. Do not lean on your own understanding, but the
wisdom and power of God.