Lesson 39: John 8:12-20 – The Light of the World

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 39 from the sermon series "The Gospel of John" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



Some say John 8:1-11 doesn’t belong in the Bible, but something’s missing if you leave it out. The Lord was in the temple (7:28) and the Pharisees weren’t (7:32,45,46). If you omit 8:1-11, they are suddenly together in the temple (8:12,13,20). This is no problem if you leave in 8:1-3.

The Lord claimed to be the “I am” (John 8:12) of Exodus 3:14, specifically the light of the world. Here we have more proof this was written to Jews, for the Lord had the tabernacle candlestick in mind. It was the only source of light in a dark windowless room, just as Christ is the only source of light in a dark world.

A walk through John is like a walk through the tabernacle. First you came to the brazen altar (cf. John 1:29), then you came to the laver (John 3:5; 4:10,14). Then you came to the table of shewbread (John 6:48). After the candlestick came the altar of incense, symbolizing prayer. In John, it symbolized the Lord’s prayer in John 17. Then you came to the ark with the broken law inside, a picture of Christ on the Cross, who became a lawbreaker as He bore our sins. It was covered by the mercy seat upon which blood was sprinkled, and Christ could have mercy on us because He shed His blood. The book of John is a book of symbols!

John was written to Jews, but God always intended to reach “the world” (John 8:12) through Israel (Isa.42:6,7; 49:6). When Israel refused to be God’s channel of blessing, God sent Paul to the Gentiles in spite of Israel under the mystery program.

But the Lord won’t be the world’s light until the kingdom. While here on earth, He was more of a torch, so men had to “follow” Him if they didn’t want to walk in darkness (John 8:12). Israel was used to this kind of light, having followed the pillar of fire at night when it moved in the wilderness. If they didn’t, they walked in darkness! We know the Lord was claiming to be that light too, for they were celebrating the feast that memorialized their time in the wilderness (7:2).

Why does He call Himself “the light of life”? The Pharisees were walking in the light of the Law, which was a ministration of death (IICor.3:7). The Lord was offering a new kind of light, the light of life. The woman taken in adultery walked under the old light and committed adultery. Once the Lord didn’t condemn her (8:11), I doubt she committed adultery again! As Paul taught, the light of the New Covenant was far more glorious! (IICor.3:7-11). Are you walking like someone forgiven of your sins?

In claiming to be the pillar of light, the Lord was claiming to be God (Ex.13:21; 33:9, etc.) Some Pharisees who hadn’t left with the others in 8:9 knew what He meant, and reminded him that without 2 or 3 witnesses His testimony of Himself didn’t count (8:13). But the Lord already had the testimony of the Spirit (Mt.3:16) and the Father (3:17) and John the Baptist, and He is about to call the Father to the witness stand again (John 8:18). Meantime He reminds them that His witness is true (8:14) because knowing where He came from, He knew He was God. They couldn’t tell He was God by looking at Him, though, because they judged after the flesh (8:15). The Lord judged no man (8:15), as He proved when He didn’t condemn the woman taken in adultery. But if He did judge, His judgment would be true, since it would be the Father’s judgment (v.16).

The Father bore witness through the Old Testament prophets, who described Him to a “T” (John 8:17,18). Then the Father bore witness to Him through the miracles He did (cf. Heb.2:3,4; John 14:10). They might discount the Father as one of the 2 or 3 required witnesses, but they shouldn’t. He was more reliable than a human witness (IKi.21:10; Mt.26:20).

The Pharisees knew He was speaking of God the Father, but they played dumb (John 8:19) saying, “You say your dad will testify for you, bring him, we want to cross-examine him.”

People who got saved under the Law knew the Father, and so knew Christ. People who didn’t get saved under the Law didn’t know Christ (John 8:19).

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