We are a curious people. It’s why we have words like: predict, theorize, conjecture, and speculation. We look for answers. I especially like the word “guesswork.” It shows that even in our guessing, we think we are working at getting to an answer. Common phrases like “take a stab at it” or “take a shot at it” show that we’re willing to risk in order to find the answer. In fact, we will even “hazard a guess” in order to find solutions to our problems.
Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus dealt with the Pharisees. They accused Him and He confronted them. In John 8:12-30, our Lord used one of the seven “I am” sayings of the Gospel. He said, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follow me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Rather than having to do any more guesswork for spiritual meaning, we can simply follow the true Light.
Following Jesus comes with the promise that we will not be in darkness. Not spiritually and not for lack of truth. Rather, the Light of the world reveals the truth about God, the truth about us, and gives us steps because of what is revealed. The question that remains is what will we do with this One who is the Light.
Sadly, too many follow in the Pharisees footsteps. The religious elitists of Jesus’ day decided to question Him. “Who are you?” was their question in 8:25. I don’t believe it was with an honestly inquisitive tone. Rather, it was one dripping with sarcasm and anger. “Who do you think you are?!?” is likely the way it was asked and heard. Who do you think you are coming in here and trying to tell us what is right and what is wrong? Who do you think you are coming around and claiming to be divine? Who do you think you are to waltz in and attempt to usurp our position of authority? Who do you think you are?!?
Their accusation is in the same tone as anyone who does not believe. It is one that questions Jesus’ motives and denies His authority. They sound more like serpents from Eden than servants in the Temple. The Pharisees could not understand the identity of Jesus because they were bound up with the stuff of earth. So, He made a revolutionary call to them… and to us.
So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own. But just as the Father taught me, I say these things. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what pleases him.” (John 8:28-29)
In these verses, I note three truths about Jesus.
- The death of Jesus on the cross is the defining moment for the world. Condemnation & salvation are wrapped up in the one pivotal moment of human history.
- The submission of Jesus to the will of the Father is the commissioning action for the church. Mission is prioritized in the one pivotal life of human history.
- The joy of Jesus with our Father’s presence is the encouraging motivation for how we live. Happiness is found in following the Father’s will and work to reach the world.
But we must live with the tension that the Gospel is divisive. In 8:24, Jesus warned the obstinate Pharisees, “For if you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.” In 8:30, John the Gospel’s writer tells us “As he was saying these things, many believed in him.” Just as Jesus revealed His identity to the religious and to the watching crowds, people were instantly making decisions about Him. And those decisions were impacting their daily life and their eternal destiny.
As we read this episode in Jesus’ life, it stands are a stark reminder that we are called to invite people to follow the Light of the world. There is still a majority of our world that does not know about Him. As I write this from Bradenton, Florida, I acknowledge with sorrow that a majority of my own city does not know Jesus as their personal Savior. So a warning is in order. If you do not invite people to follow the Light of the World, three things happen:
- You don’t grow in your faith
- The church does not grow ; and any way it does grow is deceptive
- When lost people die, they go to hell
It is not a happy reminder but it is a necessary one.
I will leave you with two questions to answer:
- Is there so much of the world in you that you cannot see Christ and His work?
- Who must you tell about the Light of the world?
There is no other greater thing that you can do today, this week, or with your life than make a disciple. It is the critical need of everyone’s life and the critical work of your life.
Jesus offered Himself in the most radical of ways. Let us follow our radical Christ with a radical faith that acts with radical abandon to save those who radically need the Light of the world.