Friday 21 July 2017

Bible Book:

“I am the light of the world.” (v. 12)

John 8:12-20 Friday 21 July 2017

Psalm: Psalm 39


Today's passage forms part of a longersection of John's Gospel that starts at the beginning of chapter 7.Jesus has come down to Jerusalem for the Jewish Festival of Booths(or Tabernacles). Despite the fact that some of his opponents arealready looking for a way to kill him (John7:1), Jesus has bravely gone to the most public place in thecity, the temple, to preach and teach. While there, he enters intoa series of disputes with the religious authorities, many of themcentring on how to interpret the scriptures, especially the law.Much of this chapter reads as if Jesus is defending himself in atrial; today we have references to both witnesses (verse 17) andjudges (verses 15-16). According to the law, two witnesses wererequired for a successful prosecution in some crimes (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 19:15) but Jesus claims that Godhimself is his star witness (verse 16).

Jesus' bold assertion that he is "thelight of the world", with its echoes of the beautiful prologue toJohn's Gospel (John 1:4-5), could have had many associationsfor his first audience. In the Jewish scriptures, light wasassociated with Wisdom and Torah (Psalm119:105), both of which dispelled the darkness of ignorance andfalsehood. The Feast of Tabernacles, which was being celebrated atthis time, also included the lighting of four very large lampstandsin the court of the temple, which allegedly illuminated much of thecity. Many other scriptural allusions are possible, especially ifJohn 7:53 - 8:11 was inserted later into theGospel, as many scholars think (see, for example, Isaiah9:1-2). Even more significant, though, could have been the useof the "I am…" phrase, a formulation that appears seven times inJohn's Gospel. When Moses asks God for his name in Exodus, Godfamously responds "I am who I am" (Exodus3:14). If the allusion is correct, then it is a very bold andpublic statement indeed by Jesus about his intimate relationshipwith God the Father.

To Ponder

  • How do you understand Jesus' statement, "I am the light of theworld"?
  • What does this passage tell you about who exactly Jesuswas?
  • Can anyone truly never "know" God unless we "know" Jesus Christ(v. 19)? What does "know" mean in this context?
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