John 8: 12 – 20 Dispute over Jesus’ testimony
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.’
The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.’
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. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’
Once again St John shows us the difference between Jesus and the religious authorities of his day. They want to measure all teaching and action against the law. They’re professionals, it’s what they do, they’re highly trained, and they cannot imagine a different yardstick. But Jesus speaks from experience. He knows where he came from and where he’s going. And for those who aren’t convinced by his words he has done many healings, which are signs that he is acting in the power of the Father.
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.’ 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.
Jesus was preaching in the women’s courtyard, where the containers for offerings were located. It was a busy area. Jesus was not trying to conceal his activities from the authorities; he was being completely open. His message was as much for them as for the crowd.
St John has told us that the chief priests and Pharisees were looking for a reason to kill him. Despite this, no one seized Jesus or harmed him because ‘His hour had not yet come’. God has a plan!
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Before I read this passage today, I had rather glossed over it. I had a nice warm image of light, perhaps sunshine, perhaps the brave glow of a candle holding back the darkness in a large room. I hadn’t really thought about it. So, what does it mean?
If we follow Jesus we will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Now I would say that I have believed in Jesus for many years, but there are many times that I have felt baffled; in the dark.
There have been a few times when I have felt certain of Jesus prompting me – and subsequent events have confirmed to me that these were true.
But, I’m afraid that most of the time I haven’t spared any thought for the spiritual context of what I am doing.
Perhaps feeling ‘in the dark’ tells me I have not been following Jesus? Jesus’ words must be true: ‘Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.’ Does this really mean that if I find myself in darkness, it’s because I’m not following Jesus?’ It’s beginning to feel a little like that.
If I am not actively aligning myself with God’s will by following Jesus, am I likely to find myself opposing his plan?
I’m not going to reach a conclusion on that today. All I need to do today is to commit myself to following Jesus. I need to be alert to Jesus’ teaching and leading in everything I do.
Meanwhile, here’s some comforting verses about light:
The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27: 1)
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9: 2)
And some teaching from St Paul about how to follow Jesus more closely:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (Philippians 4: 8)
Heavenly Father. Thank you for calling me to follow Jesus. Please help me to do so without reservation and without holding back. In Jesus name, Amen