Summary: In response to the Jews accusations, Jesus answers that his testimony is valid, because he knows where he has come from and where he is going. He is the Son of God. Those who believe in him will listen to his words and obey them.
Sermon by Rev George Hemmings
Meet Peter. He’s an average, Aussie bloke. Not long after he got married, he left a career in Sydney to move to the country and raised a family. Nearly twenty years in, his marriage fell apart. After a few dark years and some soul searching, Peter emerged more compassionate, more caring, more sympathetic. You might even say wiser! He’s worked hard all his life, as you might be able to tell from his face. He’s either out on the farm, or in his farm supply store. He goes out of his way to ensure his customers are looked after. In fact many of them, and the people he’s worked with over the years would think of him as a friend. Peter's an average Aussie bloke. You're unlikely to ever see him in the news, or read about him in the paper. But if you met him, you might think you knew him. Because Peter's my father. There's a lot of him in me. There's a lot that he's said, and done, that's shaped who I am. I see aspects of him in a lot of what I do, what I say, how I react. I wonder what your Father’s like? How do your parents define you?
Jesus, Son of?
The question of paternity is at the heart of John chapter 8, and indeed much of John’s Gospel. The question of Jesus’ paternity is one that’s already come up several times. Back in chapter 6, after he’d fed the five thousand,
41Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?”
They seem to have missed everything that Jesus has said about God being his Father. They’re not ready to accept that Jesus is the unique, special, one and only, Son of God. This chapter clears up a lot about the relationship between the Father and the Son?
In verse 12 of our reading today, Jesus makes another one of these outrageous claims.
12Again Jesus spoke to them, saying “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
It’s another claim to be equal to God, the one who is light and life. We’ll look more at this next week, when we go back to John 1 and think about the light of the world some more. It’s a claim that the Jews, the Pharisees can’t let go unchallenged. But rather than argue with Jesus directly the Jews question the validity of his claim. Rather than enter into another theological debate, they try a legal tactic.
During the week I was introduced to a game called Resistance. The aim of the game is to discover who around the table are the spies, and who are the resistance. So of course, everyone begins saying, “I’m Resistance.” The problem is you’ve only got their word for it!
That’s what the Jews are accusing Jesus of in verse 13. ‘Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.”’ As is the case today, the law of Moses required multiple witnesses to testify in capital cases. Today when you sign something you often need a witness, someone else who can verify, who can support your claims. The Jews want to know, where’re Jesus’ witnesses? Who can corroborate his claims? You can’t just go making things up!
Jesus answers that his testimony is valid, because he knows where he has come from and where he is going. He’s not saying that he knows he’s from Bethlehem, or Galilee, and that he’s going places. No, he’s come from the Father’s side. Before he entered this world he sat at the right hand of the Father. And he knows that’s where he’s going again. (John 7:33). The normal requirements for witnesses don’t apply. How could they? In claiming to be the light of the world, Jesus is claiming to be God. But who could possibly testify to that? Who else has seen God? Of course, John’s already given us the answer, back in chapter 1,
‘It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart (John 1:18).’
More than just having come from the Father, and destined to return to his side, Jesus says in verse 29 that the Father has never left him. Have you ever heard about ‘helicopter parents’. It’s a term that refers to parents who hover over their children. Whether it’s at the park, or parties, or later school or even uni, ‘helicopter parents’ are never far from their children. They pay close attention to everything they say or do. Jesus says that the Father is always by the Son’s side. But the Father never has to worry about what the Son does, as unlike most children, Jesus always does what is pleasing to the Father.