Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD”

John 8.12-20 

Some time back I preached a message using John 8.12 as my text, 

“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.” 

At this time, I want us to return to the record of our Lord Jesus Christ’s visit to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, rejoining Him in the Court of the Gentiles of the Temple the day after the conclusion of the feast.

Please make your way to John 8.12. When you find that passage, let me invite you to stand for the reading of God’s Word: 

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.

13  The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

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.

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. 

Though we haven’t the time to read it, the rest of the chapter is taken up with debates between Christ and contradicting sinners, from the relatively small sect known as Pharisees who challenged everything our Lord said. We cannot prove what is likely, that these disputes were later the same day that the adulteress was brought before Him.

This encounter, almost certainly taking place after the adulterous woman had left, is important to illustrate to us the mental gymnastics the unsaved will resort to as a means of justifying their wicked unbelief. And make no mistake about it; unbelief is wicked, though it is often justified in the name of intellectual honesty.

Unbelief is not honesty at all, and those who deny Jesus Christ do not ever do so for reasons of science, or logic, or reason. Unbelief is irrational, illogical, and twisted. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14.23 that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Failure to trust the truthfulness of God, His Son, and His Word is a terrible sin. It is nothing less than that.

With that in mind, notice the three distinct phases of our Lord’s interaction with His spiritual adversaries: 

First, THE SAVIOR DECLARES HIMSELF 

“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.” 

Though He had spoken a great deal to them with little effect on their attitudes or understanding, because what He had said was so stubbornly opposed, yet He spoke again. This was His declaration. They had turned a deaf ear to what He said, and yet He spoke again to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.” In what way is the Lord Jesus Christ the light of the world? One of their rabbis said, “Light is the name of the Messiah,” as it is written, Daniel 2.22, “The light dwelleth with him.” God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God; God of gods, Light of lights. He was expected to be a light to enlighten the Gentiles according to Luke 2.32, where just and devout old Simeon, with the Holy Ghost upon him, described Him as “A light to lighten the Gentiles.” So, He was not expected by His own people to light the way of the Jewish people only. As the visible light of the world is the sun, so the Lord Jesus Christ is the Sun of righteousness. One sun lights up the whole world physically, and so does one Christ enlighten the whole world spiritually. Christ, in calling Himself the light of the world, expresses two things: First, what He is in Himself; most excellent and glorious. As well, what He is to the world; the fountain of light, enlightening every man. What a dark and dreary dungeon of existence would the world be without the sun. So, would it be without Christ by whom light came into the world, John 3.19: 

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” 

What is derived from His declaration is he that follows Christ, as a traveler follows the light on a dark night, will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. If Christ is the light, then,

It is our duty to follow Him, to submit ourselves to His guidance, and in everything to take directions from Him, in the way life ought to be lived. Many people follow false lights that lead them to destruction, but Christ is the true light. It is not enough to look at this light, and to gaze upon it, or to admire it. We must follow it, believe in it, and walk in it, for it is a light to our feet, not our eyes only.[1]

It is also our delight to follow Christ so that we will not stumble in the darkness. We will not be left without instructions that we need to keep us away from destructive error and damning sin. Following Christ means we will have the light of life, the knowledge and enjoyment of God to be to us spiritual life in this world and everlasting life in the next world, where there will be no death nor darkness.

Following Christ results in us being joyful in this world and in the world to come. Following Christ means that we will follow Him to heaven. 

Second, THE PHARISEES DISPUTE HIS DECLARATION 

The objection which the Pharisees made against our Lord’s declaration that He was the light of the world was trifling and frivolous: “Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true,” John 8.13. The Pharisees were treating the Lord Jesus as though He was an ordinary man, engaged in self-promotion. However, He was not caught up in self-promotion, but being the Truth was telling the truth. Their dispute of His declaration was very unjust, for two reasons:

First, they accused His right doing of wrongdoing. Understand that it was entirely appropriate for the Lord Jesus Christ to make that claim about Himself, as someone who introduced divine revelation. It is always right to tell the truth. It is always proper to speak the truth in love. After all, is it not the truth that sets men free? Did not Moses tell his brother Aaron everything God had told him, Exodus 4.28? And did not both Aaron and Moses then go and tell the elders of Israel everything God had told him, Exodus 4.29? As well, did not the prophets bear witness of themselves when they declared themselves to be God’s messengers? More than four hundred times we read the phrase “thus saith the LORD” in the Old Testament. And did not the Pharisees ask John Baptist, “What sayest thou of thyself?”[2]

How very conveniently they criticize our Lord for testifying of Himself, despite the pattern established by Moses, the prophets, and themselves when questioning John the Baptist. And just as conveniently they overlooked the testimony of all the other witnesses of His sayings and doings, which corroborated the testimony He bore of Himself. Had He only borne record of Himself, His testimony might have been suspicious, and with reason they might have withheld their belief. But His declaration was attested by far more than the two or three credible witnesses required to establish the truthfulness of what He had said. These Pharisees did not dispute with the Lord Jesus Christ for cause. There was no doubt about His credibility, His reliability, or His truthfulness. They rejected what He said about Himself for no other reason than because they did not want to believe Him. With them, as with every other person who rejects the Lord Jesus Christ, unbelief has nothing to do with the truth. People disbelieve the Savior because they want to disbelieve Him, no matter what the truth is. 

Finally, CHRIST REPLIES TO THEIR OBJECTION 

Christ’s reply to their objection begins in John 8.14: 

“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.” 

Our Lord might have responded by saying, “You profess yourselves to be devout and good men, but your witness is not true.” However, He did not do that because they were not the issue. He was the issue. Do you know someone who has a problem with Christianity, or with Christians? They will claim their issue is with a Christian, or with a congregation, or with some other thing. But that is patently false. The issue is always and ever Jesus Christ.

He is the light of the world, and it is the property of light to be self-evidencing. First principles prove themselves. What follows are three things that prove that His testimony, though it was His testimony of Himself, was both true and compelling.

First, His reply to those men shows consciousness to Himself of His authority and His abundant satisfaction in Himself concerning it. The Lord Jesus Christ did not speak as someone who was in any way or for any reason uncertain. Nor did He propose a notion that was at all disputable. He did not hesitate, but declared a truth, and gave a forceful and true account of Himself: 

“I know whence I came, and whither I go.” 

He was also fully apprised of His mission from first to last. He knew whose errand He was on, and what His success would be. He knew what He was before His self-display to the world, and what He should be after; that He came from the Father, and was going to Him, John 16.28: 

“I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” 

Stated another way in His prayer to the Father, in John 17.5, He cried, 

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” 

This is the satisfaction all good Christians have, that though the world knows us not, as it knew Him not, yet we know where our spiritual life comes from, and where it leads and goes upon a sure foundation.

Second, His reply to those men reveals that His adversaries were very incompetent judges of Him, and of His doctrine and that their opinions are not be regarded. Why not? Three reasons: First, because they were ignorant, willingly and resolvedly ignorant: 

“for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.” 

To what purpose is it to talk with those who know nothing of the matter, nor desire to know? He had told them of His coming from heaven and returning to heaven, but it was foolishness to them. They received it not. It was what the brutish man mentioned in Psalm 92.6 knows not. They took it upon themselves to judge what they did not understand. Those that despise Christ’s dominions and dignities speak evil of what they know not, Jude 8.

Next, they were incompetent judges of Him and His doctrine because they were partial, John 8.15: 

“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.” 

The Jewish leaders judged Christ and His gospel by outward appearances. Because He appeared so ordinary, they thought it impossible He should be the light of the world. But that is like suggesting the sun when hidden by clouds is not the sun.

Third, they were incompetent judges because they were unjust and unfair towards Him. Did they avail themselves of the reliable evidence at hand concerning Him? No. Did they rely on the testimony of multiple witnesses who both saw and heard what He said and did? No. And did they comply with the requirements of the Law of Moses to look for evidence of the innocence of one charged with wrongdoing rather than first looking for evidence of guilt? Again, no.

Astonishing, is it not? A group of highly trained academics, theologians and experts, who presented themselves as astute, as genuine, and as reputable. They showed themselves to be profoundly incompetent about evaluating the person and the performance of the Son of God. He declared Himself to be the light of the world, yet they were blind in the extreme.

Third, His testimony of Himself was sufficiently supported and corroborated by the testimony of His heavenly Father. In John 8.16 He said, 

“And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” 

He insists that His heavenly Father substantiates His claim. Then, in John 9.39 He said, 

“For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” 

They are pitiful judges when it comes to handling the truth that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Now, let us consider Him concerning the truth:

First, as a judge, with His judgment being valid. Two things: There is His Father’s concurrence with Him: “I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” He has the Father’s concurring counsels to direct Him: as He was with the Father before the world in forming those counsels, so the Father was with Him in the world in prosecuting and executing those counsels, and never left Him without advice.[3] All the counsels of peace (and of war, too) were between them both.[4] He also had the Father’s concurring power to authorize and confirm what He did.[5] He did not act separately but in His name and his Father’s.[6] Then there is His Father’s commission to Him: “It is the Father that sent me.” God will go along with those that He sends, Exodus 3.10, 12. If Christ had a commission from the Father, and the Father’s presence with Him always, there can be no doubt that His judgment was true and valid.

Second, look upon Him as a witness, shown in John 8.17-18: 

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. 

His reference here is to Deuteronomy 17.6 and Numbers 35.30. He applies this principle of two or three witnesses to the case at hand. He bears witness of Himself, and the Father that sent Him bears witness of Him. Thus, there are two witnesses. If the testimony of two witnesses is conclusive, how much more ought the testimony of the Son of God concerning Himself, backed with the testimony of His heavenly Father concerning Him, be seen as credible and convincing? 

The end of the encounter is reported by the Apostle in verse 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.” 

To review, reflect on how they opposed Him. In verse 19 we note that they said, “Where is thy Father?” They had no interest in the testimony of witnesses, in engaging in any search for the truth, but quickly changed the subject of their so-called consideration from what He had said, “I am the light of the world,” to “Where is thy Father?”

Why did they alter the focus of their concern and redirect their inquiry? Again, they had no interest in the truth. They were unconcerned with the facts He presented that were supported by many witnesses. They were preparing to slander His character by accusing Him of being illegitimate. But not yet. They will unleash that blasphemy down in verse 41. For now, He responds by saying, “Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.”

Thus, we conclude our consideration of an encounter the Lord Jesus Christ had with Pharisees, men who pretended to be seekers of the truth. Men who were very religious, very devoted, and very conscientious. Their only problem was a complete lack of interest in knowing the one true and living God or having anything to do with His Son, Jesus Christ.

Allow me to refresh your memory of what had transpired a day earlier when this same Court of the Gentiles was packed with worshipers on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles: 

37  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

38  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 

Now, a day later, they accost the Lord Jesus Christ after He says, 

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” 

On neither occasion did any of those men ask themselves the pertinent question. “What if He is what He says He is?” “What if He is who He says He is?” Instead, they stubbornly resisted His words and refused to believe Him and to believe in Him.

What about you? How do you respond to the Savior’s claims about Himself? How do you deal with His claims about who He is and what He does, the eternal Son of the living God who saves sinners from their sins? How will you respond now? Will you come to Him, trust Him, believe in Him?

__________

[1] Psalm 119.105

[2] John 1.22

[3] Isaiah 11.2

[4] Zechariah 6.13

[5] Psalm 89.21; Isaiah 42.1

[6] John 5.17; 14.9-10

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

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