13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
14 Jesus 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. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
21 Once 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.”
22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
25 “Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
Last week we studied a good bit about the Feast of Tabernacles. Personally, I learned a lot that I hadn't known before about that celebration; we're going to touch on it again in this passage. I know it's a lengthy passage, so let's introduce it today.
Let's dig in!
Remember that this is just after the festival, and Jesus has just touched the life of a woman revealed as a sinner, for all to see. She was humiliated; He forgave her.
This was in opposition to what the elders were hoping for. Just another instance of the opposition that Jesus faced in regard to His teachings. He was always bumping right into the status quo. Coming face to face with the stubborn, the arrogant, and the legalistic. The Jewish leaders really considered Him to be an upstart; He was a thorn in their side; He kept getting right where they thought they owned the territory!
And worse, the things He said made it sound as if He had authority over them -- the very ones who thought they were the authorities.
That first verse in the passage is such a wonderful statement. It's one that is so familiar to us, and means so much. But when He said it, there were no responses of warmth and acceptance. No hearts that resonated with His. At least, John seems to be telling us that there weren't any "warm fuzzies" here. Instead, we find that they were troubled by His statement, instead of comforted.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”Remember all of the pageantry of the Feast of Tabernacles? The beautiful symbolism that pointed to Christ as the Messiah? Well, another of the special events of the festival was called the "Illumination of the Temple."
In the temple area were four large menorahs (think of them as really large and elaborate candelabras) and they were placed at the highest points on the temple walls. Then when night fell, and they were lit, they brought light to the whole temple area. It must have been a spectacular display, and the people would celebrate by the light of the menorahs.
This was so they could remember another of the wilderness experiences. During the journey from Egypt, God provided the people of Israel with the pillar of fire. This accomplished two things: it protected them, and it guided them; it was a visible sign that God was with them. At the end of the feast, the lights were put out -- on purpose . . . why? Because their Messiah had not yet appeared.
Got it? (I hear heads nodding.) Good! That's why John wrote his gospel, remember? (Grin)
Against this pageantry, Jesus says, "I am the light of the world." He is saying, I'm the pillar of fire, the glory of God. I will protect you and I will guide you.
So, no wonder that the Pharisees and the scribes were uncomfortable. The symbolism was not lost on them. They "got" what He was saying -- they just didn't want to believe it! Jesus is making a declaration here; He is declaring His deity.
Remember when God said, "I AM" to Moses? That's how He identified Himself at the burning bush. And Jesus will continue to use "I AM" statements to teach the people about Who He is . . .
He will tell them:
“I am the door”Each of these statements are designed to tell the people (and us) about Jesus' identity; they tell us about some facet of His sovereign authority.
“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.”
Jesus also makes it clear that those who follow Him will have all of the light they need. He will be the Light of life for all of us who stumble. For if we are solidly in Him, if we are close to Him, there will be no stumbling, and no fear, and no confusion. It's up to us to stay where we need to be . . .
Remember that old saying? If you don't feel as close to God as you used to, who moved? Oh, we say, it was God; He moved.
We may think that God withdraws from us every time we sin. But actually, sin is our withdrawal from our Lord. It is choosing our own will instead of the will of God. Sin really does matter -- but not because God moves. It matters because we withdraw from God. So, who moved?
Yep. I did.
He will not let your foot slip -- He who watches over you will not slumber.... (Psalm 121:30
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)