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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 35 – John 8:18

Two extraordinary statements

The reply of Jesus when he is challenged about what he is claiming when he says he is the Light of the World is quite extraordinary. He says, “I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” His accusers have just said that his witness is not valid because he needs two witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15) and he is not a good witness to himself. His reply is – yes, I do have two witnesses: one is myself, special because of who I am, and the other is God who, of course, you cannot see! No wonder his opponents weren’t exactly convinced by what he said.

But Jesus was far from stupid so he must have had good reasons for what he said and have expected his assertions to be accepted as true. There is a problem to unravel here.

It seems to me that the only possible explanation is that Jesus, and what he said and did, were the dominant features of the festival. His was not a minor voice speaking on the fringe of the festival. When he said ‘I am the light of the world’ his voice rang out above all the competing voices. Everyone except the chief priests and Pharisees was accepting him as the number one person in Jerusalem. He was a prophet, perhaps even more than a prophet.

In their culture the two most important things about a person were who their father was and where they came from. Jesus played on that. He said, I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.” And “’the Father who sent me bears witness about me.’ They said to him therefore, ‘Where is your Father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father.’” They didn’t know either where he came from or who his father was. So he had deliberately drawn attention to the puzzle. In a way that would make him all the more different, mysterious and exciting. What he said had only added to the mystery.

It was a major challenge to follow him; “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” he said. Like Abraham – “Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” He had to take a step into the unknown. He had to leave his comfortable city life and take to camels and tents and a journey with no maps or sat-nav to show him the way.

He had to take a major step of faith. He did so because “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” We too have to take that step of faith into the mysterious unknown because we do not know what the Lord has in store for us. Be sure, however, that it will be rewarding and challenging and a great deal better than any alternative would be. Step out – boldly – and you too will have the light of life.

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