I Am Who I Am: “The Light of the World” [Part Two] John 8:12-18

Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)

Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ

Sunday, February 4, 2018

by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter


I Am Who I Am: “The Light of the World” [Part Two]   John 8:12-18

What message can we take away from this episode?  In the preceding verses the Law of Moses was brought to the forefront.   Then, too, the question was raised as to what constitutes a credible testimony?  This passage addresses these matters.  But, Jesus takes us above the fray by having us focus on the spiritual ramifications in lieu of worldly, or fleshly concerns.

Both on this and other occasions, Jesus was teaching in the temple where a large crowd had gathered.  “What was the attraction?”  Was it His physical appearance, which people found appealing?  Not according to the prophet Isaiah who said of the Messiah: He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him” [Isaiah 53:2].

What is what He said which drew such large audiences?  Scripture tells us [that]: When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching… as one having authority, and not as the scribes” [Matthew 7:28, 29; Mark 1:22].

Aside from this, what should really peak our interest is what Jesus had to say about Himself!  In his book, From Glory to Golgotha, Donald MacLeod uses the term ‘the Far Country’; indicating the vast expanse separating our world from the ethereal realm.  In this passage, Jesus clearly articulates: Who He is; where He is from; and where He is going.  As for me, I rarely know if I’m coming or going!  And neither did these religious hypocrites.

But before we digest this passage, it’s important to know where in the temple Jesus was teaching.  He was not outside the temple proper under the numerous porticos.  Instead, the Lord was in a large room where the offerings were placed.  A room lit with hundreds of candles which burned continuously, symbolizing the ‘pillar of fire’ which had led the Israelites in the wilderness [Exodus 13:21, 22].  It was here, with candles burning in the background, where Jesus called Himself the ‘Light of the world’!  Just as the pillar of fire had represented God’s presence, protection, and guidance.” [1]  So it was that Jesus was presenting Himself as “the Great I Am!” 

On this occasion it becomes apparent [that]: CHRIST IS THE LIGHT WHO SHOWS US THE WAY (repeat).

While Jesus was teaching, He was abruptly interrupted by a group of Pharisees who brought forward a woman supposedly was caught in the act of adultery.  They reminded Jesus, as if He needed to be reminded, of what the Law of Moses required for such an offense.  However, they conveniently excluded the man involved, which the Law also required.  But aside from that, the only matter of concern for these Pharisees was how Jesus would respond.  Would He uphold, or countermand the Law of Moses?

This was not the first time, nor would it be the last, where these bigots attempted to entrap the Lord.  But with each attempt their efforts were in vain.  What these learned men failed to realize was that Jesus not only knew the Word of God; He was the Word [John 1:1, 14]!

Rather than answering their indignant question, Jesus stooped and scribbled something on the ground.  Yet, still they persisted.  Finally, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 17:7 in which He reminded them that the accuser, one who was without sin, must cast the first stone.  Some, but not all, left sheepishly.  As for those who remained, Jesus said, I Am the Light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of life.”

At the beginning of his gospel narrative, John said this of the Messiah: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” [John 1:4, 5].

 Throughout Scripture, God is often associated with light.  In this passage, Jesus points out that He was not just “a” light, but ‘The’ Light’!  One can only imagine how incensed His detractors must have been upon hearing His declaration!  This marks the second occasion where Jesus employed the phrase, “I AM”!  A veiled reference to the account found in the Book of Exodus where God led His people in the wilderness as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night [Exodus 17:21].

Since we can only see the world through our eyes, we assume we are not living in darkness.  How presumptuous of us!  Without Christ, we are blind in the midst a fallen world; shrouded in darkness.  Yet, despite our helpless and hapless state, the prophet Isaiah wrote: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them” [Isaiah 9:2; quoted in Matthew 4:16].

In my home state of Missouri there are more natural caves than anywhere else on this entire continent.  As you descend into a deep, dark cavern, your eyes gradually adjust to your surroundings.  But then once you ascend to the mouth of the cave, and exposed to natural light, you immediately shield your eyes as a defensive mechanism.

This is the same sensation when a person is initially exposed to God’s Holy Word!  His Word is the light of truth.  It is the light of life.  Perhaps for the first time in your life, your sins are exposed to the light of day.  And it hurts!  You recoil!  To quote C. S. Lewis: “The swiftest thing that touches our senses is light.  Yet, we do not truly see light, we only see things lit by it…” [2]

After revealing Himself as the ‘Light of the World’: CHRIST BORE WITNESS OF HIMSELF (repeat).

The Pharisees were incensed by Jesus’ declaration.  They protested, saying: “You bear witness of Yourself; but Your witness is not true.”  They were mindful of what Jesus had spoken earlier: “If I alone bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true” [John 5:31].  This was predicated on Old Testament law which required not one, but multiple witnesses to establish the truth of a matter [Deuteronomy 17:6].  But, in this instance, Jesus was not alone in testifying that He was the Messiah.  Previously, others had come forward bearing witness as to who He was, and that what He said was truthful.

In John chapter 1, the apostle mentions the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist:This man came as a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.”  John would go on to say, “He, (meaning John) was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” [John 1:7, 8].

Jesus addresses His accusers by saying, “Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true.”  In verses 17 and 18 Jesus explained: Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true.  I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.”

This alone was reason enough to have Jesus charged with blasphemy!  No mere mortal could possibly align himself to the Lord God Jehovah!  Why, even to mention His Name (“Jehovah”) in public was expressly prohibited!  And because of the crowd size, the Pharisees opted not to seize Him.  But, there was another reason.  In verse 20, we read: These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; but no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.”

After revealing Himself as the Light of the world, and then affirming His testimony was true: CHRIST SPOKE OF HIS COMINGS AND GOINGS (repeat).

To substantiate Who He was and where He came from, Jesus exclaimed: “… 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.”  In Jesus’ day, Jews held different opinions as to the Messiah’s place of origin.  In John 7:27, we read that some Jews in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth were in a quandary.  But this much they did know.  They railed: “…we know where this Man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.”

However, the scribes and Pharisees knew the precise location of the Messiah’s birthplace; prophesied by the eighth century prophet, Micah, who said He would be born in David’s hometown of Bethlehem in Ephrathah.  Few people were privy to knowing that although Jesus was from Nazareth, He was born in the city of David.

But this did not deter the Pharisees from probing further.  They were searching for the truth which was standing right in front of them.  They asked, “Where is Your Father?”  To this, Jesus retorted: “You know neither Me, nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.”  For this was not the Messiah’s true origin.  Micah was referring only to His birthplace.  For Micah also stated: “… His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” [Micah 5:2].

Perhaps you are just as perplexed about the God-Man Jesus as were these men of letters.  It requires much more than mere ‘head knowledge’.  In fact, you might have to unlearn what you have learned in order to know Him!  Above all else, one must acquire ‘heart knowledge’!

Jesus came to this ‘far country’ from afar.  Yet, He chose to mingle among commoners.  He walked beside outcasts and the downtroddened.  He healed the lame and restored sight to the blind.  He preferred eating with publicans rather than royal potentates.  He did not come to seek the righteous; for there was none.  He was drawn towards sinners who hungered and thirsted for righteousness; rather than seeking the ‘self-righteous’ who sought acclaim.

To know the Lord’s origin, one must avoid looking in all the wrong places, and asking all the wrong questions.  For you to see His Light shining in this world; it must first shine within you!  His light must brighten the deepest, darkest recesses of your heart, mind and soul.  Only then will His Light shine brightly.  In verse 30, it says, “As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.”  Were YOU perhaps one of them?

Let us pray…

[1]     No author cited,  Life Application Bible  (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers,  1991)  pg. 1893

[2]     Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root, editors  The Quotable Lewis (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers,  1990)  pg. 76



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