When Jesus 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.”
- JOHN 8:12
John 8 continues to record Jesus’ teachings during the Festival of Tabernacles. We have already seen Jesus play off the well-known water imagery associated with this festival to make the point that He can provide spiritual water that never runs dry. In this chapter, He turns His attention to another prominent component of this Festival—light. The Festival of Tabernacles included a light ceremony in which four enormous lamps were set aflame within the Court of Women, located in the temple area. Jewish literature from around this time tells us that these lamps were so bright that they illuminated every courtyard in Jerusalem. It must have been an amazing sight!
While standing “in the place where the offerings were put”, next to the Court of Women where these four great lamps burned, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, 8:20). With this declaration, Jesus presents another one of His famous “I am” statements. He also identifies Himself as a source of light that outshines these fantastic lamps. He is more than just a lamp for Jerusalem, He is a light for the world.
In one sense, Jesus’ statement anticipates a coming time when He will truly be a light for the whole world. John writes in another book that at the end of days, “there will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light” (Revelation 22:5). But Jesus’ statement isn’t just about the future, it also addresses the present. Jesus is inviting those who would believe in Him to step out of spiritual darkness and into His spiritual light. This can be a difficult thing because this light exposes our shortcomings and reveals our sins (John 3:20). Still, it’s worth it because it allows us to form authentic and honest community and offers us freedom from sin (1 John 1:5-7).
UNBELIEF OF THE JEWISH LEADERS
45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.
47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”
50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
[The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53–8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.]
53 Then they all went home, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
DISPUTE OVER JESUS’ TESTIMONY
12 When Jesus 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.”
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.