Last week we learned about the significance of the Feast of Booths and the water-pouring rite to Jesus’ living water statements.
• We ended the lesson with the Jeremiah 2:13.
• Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV) — 13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
• We discussed how rejecting Jesus’ “fountain of living waters” is to make one’s own counterfeit water source – a broken cistern.
• Today we transition from the water to light.
• And specifically, where the light came from.
John 8:12–20 (ESV) — 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for 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. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
1) LIGHT OF THE WORLD
John 8:12 (ESV) — 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
This is the second of the seven “I am” sayings in John’s gospel.
• The first one we covered in John 6:35 – “I am the bread of life”.
• Here Jesus states, “I am the light of the world”.
• We covered this quite a bit when we studied John 1:4–5 (ESV) — 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
A quick summary of that lesson:
At that time we considered the following point and a question that stemmed from it.
• Light is that which is “emitted form a luminous body” – Strongs.
• What, then, is contained or “emitted” in the light of Jesus Christ and what does it illuminate?
• To answer that question we looked at several bible verses – Psalm 27:1; Psalm 36:9; Psalm 119:105; John 12:46; 1 John 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:10, etc.
• We found that at a minimum Jesus’ light, “emits salvation, truth, holiness, and it illuminates or reveals darkness (sin)”.
• Through His light, Jesus brings “salvation, truth and holiness to destroy the stronghold of the darkness of sin and it consequences”.
Certainly more can be said about this topic, but we will move on and focus on the remainder of our verses.
2) THE PHARISEES CHALLENGE
John 8:13 (ESV) — 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.”
Interestingly, the Pharisees state that Jesus has a witness problem; a person cannot bear witness about himself.
• As we discussed with respect to our lesson on Paul’s apologetic in Acts 22:
• (1) Jewish law requires that at least two or three witnesses are necessary (Deut. 19:15).
• (2) The quality and relationship of the witnesses must be established and examined (The Jewish Law Annual).
The Pharisees are merely pointing out that Jesus is bearing witness to Himself and this is an invalid witness.
• Jesus’ response in the next few verses is where the conversation gets very interesting!
3) JESUS’ ANSWER – THE WHERE
John 8:14–18 (ESV) — 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for 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. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”
Jesus seems to concede, on the face of it anyway, to their point when He says, “Even if I do…”.
• However, He suggests that even if the Pharisees point can be construed as a valid one, it does not apply in His case.
• We know this because He immediately tells the Pharisees that His “testimony is true”; He is the “light of the world”.
• We could simply end with D.A. Carson’s observation about Jesus’ testimony – “light cannot but attest to its own presence; otherwise put, it bears witness to itself, and its source is entirely supportive of that witness” – D.A. Carson.
• But there is so much more going here I am compelled to dive deeper.
• So, as we unpack His reasoning for stating His testimony is true, we will uncover some profound truths about Jesus’ view of Himself and John’s Christology.
If we look closely, Jesus implies that His claim “I am the light of the world” is true because of:
• (1) “where I came from”
• (2) “where I am going”.
• He even goes on to condemn the Pharisees’ because they “do not know where”.
o In other words, the problem is not Jesus “bearing witness” but the Pharisees ignorance of the “where”.
• The “where” is what validates His bearing witness about Himself.
John 8:15 (ESV) — 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.
• In verse 15, alluding to “right judgment” from John 7, He suggests that not knowing the “where” is related to a lack of right judgment, a.k.a., judging “according to the flesh”.
• Or in John speak, the Pharisees are not “born again” and have not been “drawn” by the Father and “given” to Jesus.
• This is the at least the 3rd time Jesus has explained someone’s unbelief to us.
• And with respect to His words “I judge no one”, we covered this when we dealt with John 3:17 (ESV) — 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
• Suffice it to say that Jesus does judge, but He does not judge according to the flesh (D.A. Carson).
John 8:16 (ESV) — 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.
• Interestingly, Jesus says even if He did judge “according to the flesh” His judgment would be “true” because of His relationship with the Father.
• This statement also reiterates the importance of the “where” because in stating that it was the “Father who sent” Jesus, He is making it clear that both He and the “where” are identified with the Father.
John 8:17–18 (ESV) — 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”
• Jesus then explicitly concedes that He knows the witness standard spoken of by the Pharisees.
• And playing their game, He brings the (3) crucial elements of His argument together.
o the Father
• He makes the remarkable statement that “the Father” who “sent” Him bears witness “about Him” – He has two witnesses.
5) PHARISEES’ RESPONSE – WHERE IS THE WHERE?
John 8:19 (ESV) — 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
Acknowledging the importance of “the Father” who “sent” and how they bear on Jesus’ testimony, the Pharisees ask a simple question.
• “Where is your Father?”
• “If this ‘where’ is so important where is it so we can go question your Father”, they might be thinking.
• In usual fashion, Jesus’ holds them accountable for their ignorance.
• Jesus cuts this line of reasoning off immediately by suggesting that they would know the answer to this question if they knew that Jesus was “the light of the world”.
• But they don’t and nothing Jesus says will make any difference.
So having understood this encounter, we need to now understand for ourselves the “where”.
6) LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
So what is the “where” that Jesus came from and was going to and why is it so significant to Jesus’ identity?
• The source for most of this discussion is Richard Bauckham’s book – Jesus and the God of Israel.
We first have to check out two of the most important OT verses to the NT writers.
• Psalm 110:1 (ESV) — 1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
o Most quoted OT text in NT – 21 quotes or allusions.
• Isaiah 52:13 (ESV) — 13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
In these two verses, which the NT writers’ see as directly referring to Jesus Christ, we see some crucial clues about the “where” and its significance to Jesus’ identity.
• (1) He is called Yahweh
• (2) He sits at the right hand of the Father
• (3) He will be lifted up
• (4) He shall be exalted
So the “where” is the exalted right hand of the Father.
• This is where Jesus is come from and where he is going.
What is so significant and meant by exalted to the right hand of God?
• “There, seated with God on God’s throne, Jesus exercises or participates in God’s unique sovereignty over the whole cosmos” – Richard Bauckham.
• This is powerful Jewish symbolism of the Messiah’s divinity.
• Only God is Ruler and Sovereign over creation.
• And the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, is pictured in these verses as being at the place where only the Ruler and Sovereign of creation is.
In other words, as taught by the NT writers:
• (1) Jesus is sovereign Ruler over all things
• (2) Jesus shares God’s exaltation over all things as Creator
• (3) Jesus is the divine name Yahweh – He is God
• (4) Jesus as Yahweh is worthy of worship as only God is
But John takes it up a notch.
• He makes clear that the cross of Calvary is also linked to the “where”.
The examples of this in John:
John 3:14–15 (ESV) — 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
John 8:28 (ESV) — 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
John 12:32–33 (ESV) — 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
So in John’s Gospel, “the exaltation of the Servant of which this verse speaks [Isaiah 52:13] is the whole sequence of humiliation, suffering, death and vindication beyond death which [Isaiah] 53 describes” – Richard Bauckham.
• The “where” is not just the exalted right hand of God, but also the cross.
• It is amazing to think that even the cross was a “where” where Jesus demonstrated His divinity and His relationship with the Father.
• What we see as an act of God’s grace and love to defeat death and sin on behalf of the believer through the sacrifice of His one and only perfect Son (as deep as that is) was even more than that.
• Profoundly, “the witness, the humiliation, the death and the exaltation of the Servant of the Lord is the way in which God reveals his glory and demonstrates his deity to the world” – Richard Bauchkham.
• The Place of God is both:
o 1) Exalted and on the Throne – Ruler and Creator
o 2) Lifted up and on the Cross – Servant and Savior
So, Jesus testimony about Himself is valid (among other obvious reasons) because of (2) “where’s”:
• Where #1 – the exalted right hand of the Father
• Where #2 – the lifted up cross of Calvary.
To drive home the importance of the “where” symbolism futher:
Mark 16:19 (ESV) — 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
Luke 22:69 (ESV) — 69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”
Acts 2:33 (ESV) — 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
Acts 5:31 (ESV) — 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 7:55-56 (ESV) — 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Romans 8:34 (ESV) — 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Ephesians 1:20 (ESV) — 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
Hebrews 1:3 (ESV) — 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
1 Peter 3:22 (ESV) — 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Lesson for Us:
• Jesus’ justification for His ministry, the reason it was true and right was due to who He is and where He came from and His relationship with the Father.
• This is why the “where”, the exalted right hand of God, was so important.
• For the Jew, it is an unmistakable reference to the throne of God and God’s Sovereignty.
• And for the Christian Jew, especially John, the cross of Calvary was no less a reference to God’s Sovereignty and the exalted place that only God could occupy.
• It is indescribable to consider that at a certain moment in history, God occupied at once the exalted heavenly throne and the exalted cross of Calvary.
• I am amazed that the believer is the beneficiary of this God ordained perfect storm of divinity.