Many years ago I was called on by the court of the city of Erie, PA to testify of a robbery that I witnessed in a Church where I worked. I was called up to the witness stand and asked to give my personal testimony of what I witnessed, when I witnessed it and where it occurred. I was asked questions by both the prosecutor and the defense attorney about the events of that day.
The story behind the robbery was a man and woman had a scheme to rob the church without anyone knowing. The man came to my office one day and told me his story. I was immediately suspicious of because a month earlier a woman called me on the phone and told me the exact same sob story. As he was telling me this story (complete with tears) the woman (who I had no idea was there and was actually the same woman who called a month earlier) was going around the church and stealing valuables that were left unattended. With teary eyes the man asked if he could go upstairs to our sanctuary and pray, I told him that would be fine. After about five minutes (even more suspicious) I went to check on him and he was nowhere to be found. A few moments passed and we began to notice things missing from the church… some items in the maintenance room and a purse. We immediately knew we had been scammed when we started hearing reports of a woman walking around the church and both people were nowhere to be found. After calling the police and figuring there is no way we are going to get these items back or even catch the criminals we went on with our daily lives.
There are TV shows that are based on stupid criminals and even a web page called dumbcriminals.com and this couple would fit the bill quite nicely. The next day the couple comes back to the church and tells the same exact story (apparently they forgot they came there) to another pastor. I was not there. Knowing what had happened a some staff followed the two to WalMart, called the police again and caught them red handed with many of the items stolen in the trunk including the purse… not surprisingly the cash was gone.
This was far from a high profile case but from that experience I know what it feels like to be a witness in a court of law (as insignificant as it was). The court didn’t just depend on my testimony; they called on a number of individuals who had been affected by this robbery or witnessed the strange behavior of the couple. They needed our testimonies to gather enough evidence (and cross check it) to convict the couple of the crime.they were convicted of their crimes and the parties affected got their items back or were compensated appropriately.
I tell you this story as an introduction to today’s text. Jesus is questioned about his authority and his claims. He is on trial once again with the Jewish leaders. They try and use his own words against him to prove he is not who he claims, that he is a fraud but Jesus has witnesses to back up his claims.
If it is commonly agreed that 8:1 -11 were added after John’s Gospel was written then starting with verse 12 we would place us during the Feast of Tabernacles. According to the Mishnah Sukkah 5 (The laws that deal with the Festival of Tabernacles) it states, ―At the close of the first festival day they went down to the Court of the Women, and made great preparations there. There were golden candlesticks there with four golden bowls on the top of them. The candlesticks were fifty cubits high. Four ladders led up to each candlestick, and four youths from the priestly stock went up holding in their hands jars of oil, of twenty-four logs' capacity, which they poured into the bowls. They made wicks out of worn-out garments of the priests, and with them they set the candlesticks alight, and there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that did not reflect the light. ―Men of piety and good deeds used to dance before them with burning torches in their hands, singing songs and praises. And countless Levites played on harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets and other instruments of music, on the fifteen steps leading from the Court of the Israelites to the Court of the Women. Two Priests stood at the Upper Gate, which leads down from the Court of the Israelites to the Court of the Women, with two trumpets in their hands. This was believed to happen every night during the Feast.
We find later he was in the Temple at this time.
Read John 8:12 - 29
Verse 12: The “I am” statement Jesus makes in 8:12 is the second of seven “I am” claims in the Gospel of John. If the Mishnah Sukkah is correct then we can see why Jesus makes this bold claim in the temple. He makes the claim of being the light of the world is of significance because in these nights of celebration the light that was carried was representative of the “light of God”. So when Jesus makes the claim, “I am the light of the world…” He in essence is claiming to be the light of God. There is significance to light in the Scriptures – it exposes or consumes darkness, reveals what is hidden, it gives life, guidance or is a path. In the OT God led the Israelites by a cloud during the day a pillar of fire at night. In John light is synonymous to life, revelation of the truth and salvation.
He says, “The one who follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Believers are called to walk in the light because we have the light of life who is Jesus in us (John 1:4)… In him was the life and the life was the light of the world. This means in Jesus we have salvation, eternal life, guidance and abundant life here on earth. We no longer walk according to the ways of darkness (the world) because it has been exposed for what it is… evil; and we now have our paths illuminated in this life by Jesus with the Holy Spirit as our guide.
Verse 13: Here the Pharisee’s try to use Jesus’ words against him (5:31). According to Jewish law one needs to have two or more witnesses in order for a testimony to be valid (this is the same for today as well). The Jews said Jesus’ claims were invalid because he is testifying of himself and no one else is.
Verses 14 – 18: Jesus responds that his testimony is true because of his firsthand knowledge of heaven. He knew who his Father was, He knew his place of origin (which the Jews did not… They only knew of his human origins and they were wrong about those as well. They thought he was from Galilee and in fact he was from Judah). They were judging him based on human standards. He says, “You judge according to the flesh and I do not judge anyone.” Clearly Jesus judged on earth but the translation could and probably should read, “I do not judge (according to the flesh).” They judged unto condemnation but Jesus judged unto salvation. Plus his judgment is true because when he does judge he does it in accordance to the Father. He then takes on the witness question. It is true two witnesses are needed and Jesus says, “I bear witness and the Father bears witness” of who I am. The witness of God trumps any human witnesses.
Verse 19: Still thinking Jesus is speaking in human terms they ask who his father is. Jesus’ response is if they can’t accept who he is then they certainly don’t know the Father. Knowing the Father = having Spiritual insight of who Jesus is. If they truly believed, followed and understood the scriptures they would know Jesus is the Messiah. If they knew the Father in a loving way then they would know Jesus is the Son.
Verse 20: This is a parenthetical of the author. He tells us his location and why he wasn’t arrested since that was the reason they sought him out. He was speaking in the treasury of the temple. This could be translated as near the offering box. This would be the place by the court of the women where boxes were set up and free will offerings would be taken. There were 13 Shofar’s (ram’s horns) or receptacle set up and people would put their donations in to help the needy. The treasury was where all the collections went. His time (hour) had not come. They did not nor could not arrest him because it was not the appointed time God had set for Jesus to be put away.
Verse 21: Jesus is speaking of his impending death. He will be crucified, buried and will rise again. When he rises from the dead he will ascend to heaven and no one can go with him. Yet those who do not turn (repent) and follow (believe) will die in their sins.
Verse 22 - 24: The Jews do not know what Jesus is talking about and they say, “Maybe he is going to kill himself since he says we can’t go with him.”
Jesus says you cannot understand what I am talking about because you are persistent in thinking I am talking on human terms. I am not speaking on these terms I am speaking in spiritual terms and you cannot understand what I am saying because you do not have any inclination to the spiritual things.
Verses 25 - 27: They are perplexed because they asked who Jesus was. These guys are blinded to the Spirit of God and clueless as to what Jesus is talking about. He tells them he is exactly who he has been saying he is from the beginning. Nothing has changed, he is still the Son of God; but they can’t understand this because they do not even know the Father.
Verses 28 – 30: One wonders will these Jewish authorities ever come to terms with Jesus being the Son of God? The answer is yes. When He is lifted up on the cross of Calvary and glorified through the Father. Then they will realize all the words he spoke and actions he did were from God the Father. Jesus spoke with such authority that many heard what he said and believed in faith.
“How does Jesus fit into your life? Or how does your life fit into Jesus?” In these first eight chapters Jesus has already made numerous and substantial claims to being the Son of God, the bread or the source of life, and the light of the world. Jesus exposes darkness and reveals the light of the Father to us. Does this mean anything to you? Has Jesus made a difference in your life? Does Jesus have full lordship over your life or have you carved out a spot in your life, like a compartment, and placed Jesus there and you call on him when you need him? Can you say with complete faith and belief “your will be done in my life.” Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “Well of course I believe in Jesus but I am not some religious nut who always talks about him or even goes around telling people I am a believer. My faith is a private thing… It’s between God and me.” Yes, it is between God and you… BUT it is not a private matter. We are called to live out our faith or more specifically let people see the Jesus we worship and love in us through our words, deeds and faith. I implore you today. Let Jesus be the light of your life, may he be your guide or leader in this life you live. May his light shine through you so others may see the true source of life in you and may you share it with others.
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.