Address 27 The Light of the World

John 8:12-20

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

You will notice how definitely this portion of the gospel links with that which we have been considering. I mentioned that in certain ancient manuscripts the story of our Lord’s dealing with the adulterous woman and delivering her from condemnation is not found, but if we should omit it, we should do violence to the text that follows.

These words, with which verse 12 begins, connect definitely with what has gone before. “Then spake Jesus again unto them,” that is, immediately following some incident, which is clearly the story of verses 1-11. As we close chapter 7, “And every man went unto his own house” (v. 53), then verse 1 of chapter 8 begins, “Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.” Now if this twelfth verse were the beginning of chapter 8, it would leave the Lord Jesus out on the mountain with no one to whom He was ministering. But it is clear that He is in the temple court where some striking event has just taken place, which indicated that a light shone from Himself into the hearts of men. He follows that up by saying, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (v. 12).

When they brought that poor woman to Him and said, “Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?” (v. 5). He stooped down and wrote on the ground, and then lifting up Himself, He said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (v. 7). The light was shining out from His own blessed, holy personality, shining upon them and into their hearts, and making manifest all the hidden wickedness and corruption and hypocrisy. That was why not one of them dared to stone the poor, sinful woman, but beginning with the eldest one they all went out, one after the other, and the woman was left alone with the Lord Jesus, who spoke those wonderful words, “Neither do I condemn thee” (v. 11).

And so He says, “I am the light of the world.” Light reveals, light makes manifest, and that is the first way in which we must all know the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other like Him. His very presence among men was the condemnation of all other men, for here, at last, was one Man absolutely holy, utterly true, perfectly righteous. Every other man was shown up alongside of Him as sinful and full of iniquity. “The light of the world,” and yet He was in the world and the world knew Him not. “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). Men turned away from Him, fearing the illumination that His presence brings. But nevertheless He is the light of the world, and all men are going to be judged by the light that the Lord Jesus Christ brought into this scene. He says, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” It is through the knowledge of Christ and subjection to Him that deliverance is given from darkness and its awful power.

People talk about the problem of Jesus, and we have had author after author writing books to try to explain the problem of Jesus. But Jesus is not a problem, Jesus is the unraveler of all problems and all the perplexities that face us. Trust Him and receive Him as He is, God and Man in one glorious person, and your problems are met. And so He says, “Follow Me, and you will not walk in darkness. You will have the light of life.” But remember, it is only as the Divine One that Jesus can say, “I am the light of the world.”

In this gospel, on many occasions, we hear Him using that divine name “I AM.” Long ago, when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and sent him to Egypt to deliver His people, Moses asked, “Whom shall I tell them has sent me? What name shall I give to Thy people Israel when I appear before Pharaoh to tell him that Thou hast sent me to deliver them?” God said, “Tell them that ‘I AM’ hath sent you. I AM THAT I AM” (see Exod. 3:13-14). That is really an explanation of the name Jehovah—“The eternally existing One,” “I AM THAT I AM.” And so “I AM” is a divine title, and Jesus takes it on His lips again and again in His walk on earth. He says, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35); “I am the good Shepherd” (10:11, 14), that is, the Shepherd of Israel; “I am the door” (10:7, 9); and here, “I am the light of the world” (8:12). If Jesus Christ had been anything less than God, it would be blasphemy to speak like this.

Think of any servant of God you know. Think of the very best man you have ever met or heard, the greatest preacher, the truest follower of Christ, and imagine him standing up before men and saying, “Look at me, I am the light of the world. Follow me, and you will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Why, you would say, “Who does he think he is that he has grown so great, calling himself the light of the world?” You would put him down as a paranoiac. But there is no evidence of paranoia here. When Jesus contemplates the millions of people who have come into the world and says, “I am the light of the world,” He is practically saying, “Look unto me and be ye saved,… for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22). We read elsewhere, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). You take every faithful servant of Christ—they point you to Christ the Light. They say, “He is the light, look to Him, and you shall find the light of life.” But Jesus says, “Come to Me and believe in Me, for I am the light of the world.” And notice the universality of it. He was not only the light of Israel, but a light to lighten the Gentiles also.

So Jesus moved among them there and they recognized Him not, because of their blinded hearts. So it is today. People say to us, “I do not see anything in it.

I do not understand what you are talking about. I cannot comprehend all these things that you tell us about sin and salvation, about men’s lost condition, and God’s provision for meeting their every need. I cannot understand it.” Well, that is just what the Word says: “The natural man [understands] not the things of the Spirit of God: for… they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). It is like a blind man to whom you are trying to explain a sunset in all its glory in the western sky, and he turns his sightless eyes to you and says, “I cannot make it out.” He needs sight to understand the sunset. O Christless soul, if I am addressing you today, you need to have your eyes opened by divine power in order that you may see the beauty and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if you will come to Him, He will open your eyes, illumine your mind, and you will understand the deep things of God. Think of the untold millions in the nineteen hundred years since Jesus uttered these words who have found in Him the light of life.

Do you want to be delivered from the darkness? Do you want to know the light? Then go to Him, or you will never find it. Sometime ago a lady wrote me and she said, “I have been for years seeking after light. I am a searcher after truth, and if you can help me I will be glad.” She said, “I have investigated Theosophy, Spiritism, New Thought, and other cults. I have studied all kinds of religions, and I am in the dark still.” I wrote her and said, “My dear friend, you have been looking down blind alleys for years. Come back to your Bible, read the gospel of John, and see the wonderful revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him you will find all your questions answered. Your soul will be satisfied when you receive Him as your Savior.” We do not need all these other things.

Do you remember that incident that took place here in Chicago during the World’s Fair of 1893? They had a great congress of religions, with the representatives of most of the religions of the world there, each one crying up the virtues of the particular system with which he was connected. One day Joseph Cook, the great Boston preacher, gave his testimony. He was to give an address setting forth the biblical view of salvation. He took his text, not from the Bible, however, but from Shakespeare’s tragedy of Macbeth, for he knew that those thousands were not interested in the Bible but probably had all read Shakespeare.

He said, “See, here is Lady Macbeth. It is after the death of Duncan, you remember. See how she rubs her hands, saying, ‘Out, damned spot! Will these hands ne’er be clean? All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.’ And here is her husband, Macbeth, looking on and he cries out, ‘Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red!’ There they rub and they rub, trying to wash out the stains of Duncan’s blood, but it is impossible.” And Joseph Cook said, “I will place Lady Macbeth on my right arm and her husband upon my left, and as I walk down the aisle of this great Congress of Religions I have only one question to put to you, ‘Who will cleanse our red right hands? Our hands and hearts are stained with sin. Tell us how we may get rid of our sins!’“ No religious system on earth could give a satisfactory answer, but, he cried, “When I turn from all of these I hear the words rising from the Scriptures, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin’” (1 John 1:7).

Oh, that is the answer to all your spiritual problems and perplexities: Jesus the Light of the world, the divine Savior of sinners. But when men are determined to reject the truth of God and their hearts are filled with self-righteousness, they will go to any length to discredit the messenger. There is nothing more blinding than religious prejudice.

And so the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true” (John 8:13), or, “Thy record is not valid.” They were referring to what He had said Himself, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true” (5:31). But after telling them of John the Baptist and of His mighty works, He said, “The Father Himself which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me” (v. 37). The law tells us, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1; see also Matt. 18:16). The testimony of one man was not valid. So the Pharisees are quick to take Him up on that. But He answered by declaring that He was not alone, but the Father was with Him, and so the witness was true.

“And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me” (John 8:16). “The law demands more than one to prove a testimony true. Very well, I am one that bears witness of Myself, and the Father that sent Me, He beareth witness of Me.” How did the Father bear witness? When our blessed Lord was baptized there came a voice from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I have found all My delight.” And then the works that Jesus did—they were the works of the Father by the Holy Spirit through the Son—all these bore testimony to the fact that He was indeed the light of the world. And so God has given abundant witness to the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, if men are willing to receive it, if they are not filled with prejudice, if they are not determined to reject the message of God.

“Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father?” (v. 19a). I do not know how to put into that question the scorn and contempt that I am sure they put into it. Do you see what is implied there? It is said sometimes that John never referred definitely to the virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. So some have gone so far as to say that John knew nothing about it, that it is only mentioned in Matthew and in Luke, and, therefore, it may not be true. John deals with the full Deity of Christ. He traces Him back to the eternities (John 1:1), but you notice here that you have an intimation of the truth of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ and His virgin birth. What was back of that scornful question of theirs? He had said, “I am one that bears witness of myself, and the Father… beareth witness of me.” And they said, “Where is thy father?” Do you get the point of that? Do you see the cruelty of it? Do you see the malice of it? Oh, they knew that it was reported that He had no human father. They are intimating that He was born of fornication—conceived out of wedlock—and, therefore, it was absolutely false for Him to talk as though He knew His father. In verse 41 they said, “We be not born of fornication: we have one Father, even God.” See what they meant. Oh, yes, they had heard the story of the virgin birth, and that is the way they treated it.

But His Father was God. God was the Father of His humanity as truly as of His divine nature. And Jesus answered and said, “Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also” (v. 19b). Oh, weigh those words well. People sometimes say, “I wish I knew God and understood God. I wish I could know how God looks at things, how He feels about things, and what His attitude toward men really is. But God seems so far away and to me He is the Unknowable. Back of this universe, I take it, there must be some First Cause. He that formed the ear must be able to hear, and He that formed the lips must be able to speak. He that formed the brain must be able to think. Back of this universe there must be a personal God. But oh, He seems so far away! I wish I knew Him.” Like Job, maybe you say, “Oh that I knew where I might find him!” (23:3). Listen to me! You may find Him in Jesus. Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). If you want to know God, get acquainted with Jesus. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim. 3:16). In the face of Jesus you will find the face of God; in the character of Jesus you will find the character of God.

But Jesus says sadly, “Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also.” Then we read “These words spoke Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come” (John 8:20). See again, it is absolutely necessary that you recognize verses 1—11 as part of the gospel, otherwise there would be no record of His entering the treasury.

“And no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.” As we have seen before in looking at some of the earlier passages, it was impossible that any harm should come to Jesus, that He should be injured in any way, or that He should die, until the hour struck for which He came into the world. Before He left the Father’s glory, it had been settled in the counsels of eternity that on the Passover Day, one particular, definite day, the Lord Jesus, the Passover Lamb, was to be offered up. And until His hour was come, men could not take Him. But when that hour came, He put Himself into their hands and allowed them to spit upon His blessed face, to beat Him with their cruel rods, and, at last, nail Him upon a cross of shame. There He made reconciliation for iniquity, and the light never shone brighter than in the darkness of Calvary.

And now, because the sin question has been there settled, God offers salvation to every soul in all the world who will receive His Son and trust in Him as Savior. Those of us who have trusted Him have found Him to be far more than we ever dreamed He could be, and because of what He means to us we long to have you know Him too. And so we plead with any of you here who are out of Christ to come to Him and take Him as your Savior.