Summary: “I am the light of the world” is the highest claim that He has made so far in the Gospel of John. One of the definitions of God is that He is light (see 1 John 1:5). He is absolute in His holiness and in His justice.


Lesson: Christ—The Light of the World

John 8:12-20

Jesus had a method that He often followed. After an incident or a miracle, He gives a discourse on that subject.

(John 8:12) Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

"Then spake Jesus again unto them;” though he had already spoken a great deal to them with little results. They were opposed to what He said, and yet he spoke again. They had turned a deaf ear to what he said, and yet he spoke again to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.” The religious leaders did not know where they were going or where He was going because they were in the dark spiritually. They had the light of the Law and of conscience, but they did not have the light of life. Consequently, they did not know the Father or understand what Jesus taught them. It is our duty to follow him, to submit ourselves to his guidance, and in every thing take directions from him. Many follow false lights that lead them to destruction; but Christ is the true light. It is not enough to look at this light, and to gaze upon it, but we must follow it, believe in it, and walk in it, for it is a light to our feet, not to our eyes only. Follow Christ, and we shall undoubtedly be happy. Follow Christ, and we shall follow him to heaven.

Notice He says, “I am”—this “I am” occurs again and again. In the Old Testament, Jehovah is the “…I AM THAT I AM…” (Ex. 3:14). Very frankly, we are told very little about God. We do know He is the self-existing One, and that He has all wisdom and power. The Lord Jesus came to this earth not only to redeem man but also to reveal God to man. Jesus greatly expands our understanding by using the common place things like bread, light and water to symbolize Himself. He uses the ordinary to speak of the extraordinary, the physical to speak of the spiritual, the temporary to speak of the eternal, and the here-and-now to speak of the hereafter, the earthly to speak of the heavenly, the limited to speak of the unlimited, and the finite to speak of the infinite. Jesus gives us a revelation of God when He tells us He is Bread, He is Water, and He is Life. Then we understand, not only does God self-exist, but that He also meets our every need. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), “I an the door” (John 5:12), “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11), I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25), “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and “I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5).

Here is Jesus saying, “I am the light of the world.” He has exposed the sin of the scribes and Pharisees who brought the woman guilty of adultery. Because they were just as guilty as she, they had to run away. When one turns on the light, all the rats, and bats, and the bedbugs crawl away. Light exposes sin, which is the reason the scribes and Pharisees had to leave.

“I am the light of the world” is the highest claim that He has made so far in the Gospel of John. One of the definitions of God is that He is light (see 1 John 1:5). He is absolute in His holiness and in His justice. Even physical light is one of the most complicated things as well as one of the most complicated things for us. Who really knows what it is? In some ways it acts like waves, and in some ways it acts like particles of matter. The startling thing is that men, acting on both of these definitions of principles, have been able to make remarkable inventions and discoveries. Some say that both are true and yet others say both can’t be true. Is light the absence of darkness? Is darkness the absence of light? We say a room is filled with light. What do we mean? Does it weigh any more when it is filled with light? There could be no such thing as color without light. The red rose is red, because it has absorbed every other part of light except red. That is the reason we see red in the red rose.

We don’t understand light, and certainly a child doesn’t understand light, but he does know enough about it to turn on the light switch when he enters a dark room. Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. Just as the sun is the physical light of the world, He is the spiritual light. Just as a little child can have enough sense to come into the presence of light, so any sinner today, though he be “a fool and a wayfaring man” (see Isa. 35:8), can come into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are those who deny that Christ is the light of the world. They are walking in a lesser light. As the moon has no light of its own but reflects light from the sun, so this civilization we live in today owes everything to Christ. We have hospitals, charities, orphan’s homes, and consideration for the poor, and rights of labor because the Lord Jesus came to this earth. The reason we have problems in these areas today is that we have wandered too far from the Light. The world is just walking in moonlight, as it were. How this poor old world needs to get back to the Light which is Christ.

“He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” There are those who have attempted to liken Jesus the Light to the headlights of a car. Friends, the headlights of a car do not lead anywhere. Who does the leading?—the fellow at the steering wheel. Unfortunately, this is the way many Christians try to live their lives. I don’t consider this an apt illustration of Christ.

During the Feast of Tabernacles, Israel was remembering the deliverance when the pillar of fire led the children of Israel through the wilderness. They were celebrating this with a torch parade. When Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” this is what He was referring to. Whenever and wherever the pillar of fire led, the children of Israel followed. We are to follow Him in like manner, looking to Him as the Light of the World.

Christians are to be recognized as God’s children. We are also lights in the world. Christ is the Light of the World and His followers are luminaries or light-bearers reflecting His light. The picture we get is that of a procession at night, in a crooked and distorted time, in which torch-bearers are going out and holding high the blazing torches, so that those that follow can see how to walk in this sin-darkened world.

(John 8:13-14) The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

There is now a sharp conflict between the religious rulers and Christ. They are really accusing Him of boasting when He claimed to be the Light. Jesus gives them a threefold reason His testimony is true.

First He says, “I know whence I came.” He says He knows where He came from, and, hence He knows Himself. By the way, Folk on this earth can’t tell you where they came from. Scientists try to tell us what happened millions of years ago; yet none of them were here even one hundred years ago. They don’t know where they came from; they can only speculate. But the Lord Jesus knew from where He came.

The religious leaders complained to Jesus, “Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.” They overlooked others who could bear witness of who He was—John the Baptist and the prophets. And there were also those who had seen the miracles or had been the recipient of a miracle. There were two others that I will mention later, who are the greatest witnesses.

(John 8:15-16) “Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.”

His second statement is that He judges no man after the flesh. Any judgment you or I make is after the flesh. Our judgment is limited simply because we do not know all the facts. The theory of evolution is an example of this. Because our judgments are based on very fragmented facts, they really are speculation. Either a man accepts speculation or he accepts revelation. If one judges according to the flesh, he will naturally follow speculation. The Lord Jesus says He does not judge according to the flesh. He gives the judgment that comes from heaven. He gives God’s viewpoint, God’s estimation. This is revelation and it differs from man’s point of view. That is why the hostility of these religious rulers is mounting.

The Jews judged Christ and his gospel by outward appearances, and, because he appeared so poor, they thought it was impossible for Him to be the Light of the World. They were judging Jesus, however, Jesus said, "I judge no man.’’ He doesn’t judge now in His first coming; that is deferred until He comes again.’’ At that time, those who reject the saving ministry of Christ must be judged, and they will be judged correctly.

When He says, “I am not alone, but I and the Father,” He is saying that He has the Father’s guidance to direct Him; as he was with the Father before the world was formed, so the Father was with him in the world helping to carry out His instructions. God the Father never left God the Son, except for those few hours He was on the cross.

He said, “For I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” Now, if Christ had a commission from the Father, and the Father’s presence was with him in all that He did, no doubt his judgment was true and valid; there was no immunity from it, and no appeal could be made against it.

(John 8:17-18) It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

Here is the third reason that His testimony is true. The Father had borne witness to him. They had heard the Father’s voice out of heaven.

The law required two witnesses; two men, two human witnesses. The Law that they referred to is Deuteronomy 17:6, “At the mouth of two witnesses shall he that is worthy of death be put to death.” If the law required two human witnesses for accuracy, how much more dependable is the witness of two divine persons, the Father and the Son. He said, “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me.” Behold two witnesses!

Note that this proves not only that the Father and the Son are two distinct persons for their respective testimonies are spoken of as being the testimonies of two separate persons.

(John 8:19) Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

“Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father?” They are reflecting on His birth again. Notice that Jesus calls God “My Father.” It was easy to see from this and His previous statements, that they have a different relationship, from what you and I have with Him, through faith in Jesus Christ. Remember, He said to Mary after His resurrection, “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father (John 20:17). We become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, but Jesus is His Son, because of His position in the Trinity. He is God the Son, and He addresses God the Father.

“If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.” Here is the real issue. There is no middle ground. If you are going to know God the Father, you must come through Jesus Christ. There is no other way.

(John 8:20) “These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.”

The treasury was in the women’s court. This is where they brought the woman taken in adultery. But, even in the temple, where they had him in their reach, no man laid hands on him, for his hour was not yet come. They were restrained from doing any harm to Him by the power of God; none of them dared to interfere with him. His hour was not yet come, because his work was not done, nor his testimony finished. To all God’s purposes there is a time.