10 April 2014

John 8:12-20

“If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” (v. 19)


Today's passage should be taken as a continuation of John 7:14-44, and is set during the Feast of Tabernacles or Festival of Booths. Jesus is debating with the Pharisees in the treasury of the temple (verse 20) which was next to the Court of Women. It was here that four large lampstands were lit at the end of the first day of the festival and the light they produced was said to illuminate the whole city. Jesus is therefore comparing himself to this light, but goes further, for he describes himself as the "light of the world" (v. 12), not just for the city of Jerusalem.

It is no surprise therefore that this assertion triggers heated debate. Firstly the Pharisees question the basis on which he makes his case stating that a testimony based on his own views was invalid, and Jesus appears to acknowledge this (verse 16). Instead he identifies the legally required second witness as "the Father who sent me" (v. 18).

This debate is not just a legal one. Jesus says "I know where I have come from and where I am going" (v. 14). He has come from and is going to God and therefore this passage underlines Jesus' divine origin and destiny. It is something those debating with him have yet to grasp when they ask "Where is your Father?" (v. 19), as if he was expected to produce Joseph of Nazareth as his witness. This provides yet another opportunity for Jesus to underline his point that the Pharisees not only don't understand him, but don't even know God, as by failing to recognise who Jesus really is they fail to see God the Father also.

To Ponder

  • Think of someone who is experiencing darkness in their life and pray that they may experience the "light of life".
  • Read or sing See the Lamb of God (Singing the Faith 281) or. Who do you see, hear or love "nailed to a cross" and "calling your name"?

Bible notes author

Dr Richard Vautrey

Richard Vautrey is a local preacher and church steward in Leeds, and a former vice-president of the Methodist Conference. He works as a GP, is an elected member of both the BMA council and Royal College of GPs council as well as being the deputy chair of the BMA's GP committee.