“Light” – John 8:12-30

June 28th, 2020


John 8:12-30

Call to Worship: Psa 27:1

Aux. text: Numbers 9:15-23


Service Orientation: Jesus is the Light of the world, one with God and the Savior of the world. Whoever follows Jesus will never follow Satan and be in the dark.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” — John 8:12


Background Information:

  • These chapters (chapters 5 through 8) record the rejection of Jesus by the leaders, beginning with their opposition to him on the sabbath question in chapter 5 and ending with a complete break in chapter 8. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 626)
  • We have a striking succession of three great wilderness images in chapters 6, 7, and 8 of John’s Gospel. In 6, Jesus is the new manna sent down from heaven.  In 7, he is the water miraculously provided from the rock.  In 8, he is the cloud.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 615)
  • In no other chapter of the Bible does Jesus make so many declarations about himself. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 171)
  • “Light,” in Scripture, is sometimes the emblem of true knowledge, true holiness, true happiness; while “darkness” is the figure for ignorance and error, guilt and depravity, privation and misery. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 436)
  • The “world” occurs only fifteen times in the first three Gospels added together; whereas in John it is found seventy-seven times! Why is this?  The answer is not far to seek.  In this fourth Gospel we have a presentation of what Christ is essentially in His own person, and not what He was in special relation to the Jews, as in the other Gospels.  John treats of the Deity of Christ, and as God He is the Creator of all (1:3) and there the life and light of His creatures (1:4).  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 434)
  • Jesus made it clear that their witness was not dependable because their judgment was faulty. They judged on the basis of externals, mere human judgment, but He judged on the basis of spiritual knowledge.  The way they judged the woman taken in adultery proved that they understood neither the law nor their own sinful hearts.  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 127)
  • First, there was the attempt to arrest Jesus (7:32). This failed.  Next there was the attempt to trap him in the matter of the woman taken in adultery (8:3-11).  Jesus showed himself to be too smart for the rulers in this situation.  Third, there was the attempt to have his testimony discounted on the basis of a legal technicality (8:13).  He had an answer even for this.  So, after Jesus had escaped arrest, overcome them in the test, and answered their objection to his testimony, the Pharisees and other leaders sank to the lowest level of all and began to make fun of him personally.  They did this by asking insulting questions.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 626)
  • (v. 12) The expression “darkness” in the NT sometimes denotes sin, as 1 Jn 1:6, and sometimes ignorance and unbelief, as 1 Thess 5:4. (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 89)
  • (v. 13) In what was likely a mocking reference to the Lord’s own words in 5:31 (“If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true.”), they said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.” According to the OT Law, every fact in a legal matter had to be established by the testimony of more than one witness (Nm 35:30; Dt 17:6; 19:15; cf. Mt 18:16; 2 Cor 13:1; 1 Tm 5:19; Heb 10:28).  In typical fashion, the Pharisees refused to consider the possibility that Jesus’ claim might be true.  Instead, they arbitrarily dismissed it on a legal technicality.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 336)
  • (v. 14) In reality, of course, there were others who could testify to the truthfulness of Jesus’ claims (e.g., John the Baptist [1:7-8, 19-27, 34, 36; 3:26; 5:33], the Twelve [1:49; 6:69; Mt 14:33; 16:16], the Samaritan woman [Jn 4:39], Martha [11:27], those who witnessed His raising of Lazarus [12:17], Jesus’ works [5:36; 10:25], the Scriptures [5:39], and, above all, the Father). Thus, there is no contradiction between Jesus’ statements here and in 5:31; He was not, as the Pharisees alleged, the only witness who could verify His claims.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 336)
  • (v. 14) Previously, Jesus had offered other witnesses: John the Baptist, Jesus’ works, and God the Father.  This time he returned the challenge by insisting that his own testimony about himself was sufficient.  It was sufficient because it was God’s eternal truth.  Jesus knew who he was, where he came from, and where he was going.  The Pharisees did not know where he came from or where he was going.  They, not Jesus, had no basis to judge.  (Gary P. Baumler, The People’s Bible: John, 125)
  • (v. 14) Whether His enemies would hear it or not, what He said deserved credit, and was worthy of all acceptation.–“The testimony that I bear is not the testimony of a common witness, but of one who is thoroughly to be depended on.” (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 92)
  • (v. 15) When Christ said “Ye judge after (according to) the flesh,” He meant, we think, first, You are deciding My claims according to what you see; you are judging according to outward appearances. Because I am in the likeness of sinful flesh you deem it impossible for Me to be “the light of the world.”  But appearances are deceptive.  I do not form My judgments thus:  I look on the heart, and see things as they actually are.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 437)

(v. 15) Some have thought that our Lord refers to the case of the woman taken in adultery, and contrasts His own refusal to be a judge in her case, with the malicious readiness of the Pharisees to judge Him and condemn Him even when innocent.  “I refuse to condemn even a guilty sinner.  You, on the contrary, are ready to condemn Me in whom you can find no fault, on carnal and worldly principles.”  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 93)

  • (v. 15) The Lord may have meant that He did not judge anyone yet, since “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (3:17; cf. 12:47; Lk 9:56). In the future, however, Jesus will judge, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son” (5:22; cf. V. 27; 9:39; Mt 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom 2:26; 2 Tm 4:1).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 338)

(v. 15) To form a correct estimate of him, they must have the proper standard, and Christ is not measurable by “human standards.”  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 93)

(v. 18) The witness of God the Father consists of a witness through John the Baptist (5:33-34), the witness of Christ’s signs (5:36), and the witness of the OT Scriptures (5:39-47).  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 622-3)

  • (v. 19) The first thing the Lord Jesus Christ said when faced by the scornful questions of these men is that such questions are not asked by those who know him and that, therefore, those who ask them do not know either him or God the Father. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 627)
  • (v. 20) These passages show that men were unable to work out their evil designs until God permitted them to do so. They demonstrate that God is complete master of all; and they prove that the sufferings Christ did undergo were endured voluntarily.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 440)

(v. 20) The expression should be carefully noticed, and remembered by all true Christians.  It teaches that the wicked can do no harm to Christ and His members until God gives them permission.  Not a hair of a believer’s head can be touched until God in His sovereign wisdom allows it.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 97)  

(v. 21) There is mercy to the uttermost in Christ; but if men willfully reject Him, turn away from Him, and put off seeking Him in earnest, there is such a thing as “seeking Christ” in vain.  Such passages as Prv 1:24-32; Mt 15:11-12; Lk 13:24-27; Heb 6:4-8, and 10:26-31 ought to be carefully studied.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 104)

(v. 25) There is no verse in all the NT more difficult to translate than Jn 8:25.  No one can really be sure what the Greek means.  It could mean:  “Even what I have told you from the beginning,” which is the meaning the RSV takes.  Other suggested translations are:  “Primarily, essentially, I am what I am telling you.”  “I declare to you that I am the beginning.”  “How is it that I even speak to you at all?” which is the translation of Moffatt.  It is suggested in our translation that it may mean:  “Everything I am saying to you now is only a beginning.”  If we take it like that, the passage goes on to say that men will see the real meaning of Christ in three ways.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, Vol. 2, 19)


The question to be answered is . . . Who is Jesus?


Answer: Jesus is the Light of the world, one with God and the Savior of the world.  Whoever follows Jesus will never be in the dark.  


The world is in a state of moral and spiritual darkness.  Naturally men know nothing rightly of themselves, God, holiness, or heaven.  They need light.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 90)


The Word for the Day is . . . Light


Dark = absence of light.


Why don’t we talk about the speed of dark?  Because Dark is not an entity.  It is simply the absence of light.   There is only dark because there is no light.


Evil/sin = perversion of good.


False/lies = distortion of truth


I heard someone recently say that light reveals the darkness.  That is not exactly right.  Light doesn’t reveal the darkness as much as it obliterates and annihilates the darkness.  Light does reveal darkness’ attempt at legitimacy and exposes it to be the fraud that it actually is.   Because dark is not an entity of itself.  It only exists in the absence of light.  — PK


What is dark?  It is nothing but the absence of light.  You cannot add darkness to light and get less light.  Light is what it is.  Darkness is nothing more than a lack of light.   The reason you are in the dark is because you lack the light.  You need more light to shed the darkness.  Darkness MUST run in the presence of light.  It can do nothing but run because it is nothing on its own.  Its only exists when Light is not present.  — Pastor Keith


Who is Jesus?:

  1. The verifiable Light of the world. (Jn 8:12, 14-18; see also: Ex 13:21-22; 14:19-25; Nm 9:15-23; Jn 1:1-12)


The light of life means two things.  The Greek can mean either the light which issues from the source of life or the light which gives life.  In this passage it means both.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, Vol. 2,  11)


Jesus spoke to all the people around him.  “I am,” he said, repeating the words that identified him with Yahweh, “the light of the world.”  Here was the Messiah, telling those who would listen that he was the fulfillment of all Isaiah had promised:  “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (9:2).  “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (60:1).  (See also Isa 42:6; 49:6; 60:2, 3.)  (Gary P. Baumler, The People’s Bible: John, 124)


But long centuries had passed since that light had departed.  “The glory” had ceased from the house that now stood on Zion, and the light from between the cherubim.  Shall we not, then, see a deep meaning and reference to that awful blank, when Jesus standing there in the courts of that Temple, whose inmost shrine was, in a most sad sense, empty, pointed to the quenched lamps that commemorated a departed Shechinah, and said, “I am the Light of the world”?  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 322)


Now the brilliant candelabra were lit only at the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles; there is dispute as to the number of nights on which the illumination tool place, but none as to the fact that at the close of the feast it did not.  In the absence of the lights Jesus’ claim to the Light would stand out the more impressively.  In favor of this view is also the fact that the candelabra were lit in the Court of the Women, the most frequented part of the Temple, and the very place in which Jesus delivered his address.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 388)


The Illumination of the Temple, a spectacular night-time ceremony, took place in the temple treasury before four massive golden candelabra topped with huge torches.  It is said that the candelabra were as tall as the highest walls of the temple, and that at the top of these candelabra were mounted great bowls that held sixty-five liters of oil.  There was a ladder for each candelabrum, and when evening fell, healthy young priests would carry oil up to the great bowls and light the protruding wicks.  Eyewitnesses said that the huge flames that leapt from these torches illuminated not only the temple but all of Jerusalem.  The Mishna tells us:

Men of piety and good works used to dance before them [the candelabra] with burning torches in their hands singing songs and praises and countless Levites played on harps, lyres, cymbals, and trumpets and instruments of music.

This exotic rite celebrated the great pillar of fire (the glorious cloud of God’s presence) that led the Israelites during their sojourn in the wilderness and spread its fiery billows over the tabernacle.

It was in the temple treasury the following morning, with the charred torches still in place, that Jesus lifted His voice above the crowd and proclaimed, “I am the light of the world.”  There could scarcely be a more emphatic way to announce one of the supreme truths of His existence.  (R. Kent Hughes; Are Evangelicals Born Again, 138)


Marsh makes the important point that “light, in a sense, bears witness to itself, though every other object in the world requires light in order to bear witness to itself.  Light always illuminates, is never illuminated.” (p. 351).  Light is unique.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 390)


This time, they accused Him of bearing witness to Himself by claiming to be the Light of the world, and Jewish courts would not permit a person to bear witness to himself.

But light has to bear witness to itself!  The only people who cannot see the light are blind people!  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 126-7)


In the very Court of the Women where Jesus was speaking, four huge candelabra were lit, pushing light up into the night sky like a searchlight.  So brilliant was their light that one ancient Jewish source declared, “There was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that did not reflect [their] light” (cited in F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, 206).  They served as a reminder of the pillar of fire by which God had guided Israel in the wilderness (Ex 13:21-22).  The people–even the most dignified leaders–danced exuberantly around the candelabra through the night, holding blazing torches in their hands and singing songs of praise.  It was against the backdrop of that ceremony that Jesus made the stunning announcement that He is the true Light of the world.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 334)


Others, on the contrary, think that our Lord only referred to the intellectual darkness and ignorance of man’s mind, which he had come to illuminate.  The meaning would then be, “He that follows Me as my disciple shall no longer live in ignorance and darkness about his soul.”  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 89)


John had already used the metaphor of light to describe Jesus (1:4, 8-9; cf. Rv 21:23), and it was one right in OT allusions (cf. Ex 13:21-22; 14:19-20; Neh 9:12, 19; Ps 27:1; 36:9; 43:3; 44:3; 104:2; 119:105, 130; Prv 6:23; Isa 60:19-20; Ezek 1:4, 13, 26-28; Mic 7:8; Hab 3:3-4; Zech 13:5b-7).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 334)


  1. God’s presence. (Jn 8:12, 19; see also:Ex 13:21-22; 14:19-25; Num 9:15-23)


Long years before, the cloud of God’s glory had departed from Israel.  It once had filled the Holy of Holies of the temple before which Christ was standing.  Now the innermost shrine was empty, and even the lamps that commemorated the departed cloud had gone out.  In this context and against this background Jesus cried, “I am the light of the world.  I am the cloud.  I am God with you.”  Here was God once again with his people.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 616)


Since God was thought of in terms of light and life, and since this claim referred to the cloud of Israel’s desert wandering that symbolized God’s presence with the people, Christ’s words must have seemed almost blasphemous to his listeners.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 620)


“God is light” (1 Jn 1:5), and wherever the light shines, it reveals humanity’s wickedness (Eph 5:8-14).  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 126)


  1. God’s protection. (Jn 8:12, 28; see also: Ex 13:21-22; 14:19-25; Nm 9:15-23)


The cloud was important in that it was the primary means by which God protected the people.  Without it the people would have perished many years before they entered Canaan, either from their human enemies like Pharaoh and his armies or from the natural dangers of the desert.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 616)


When the cloud moved they were to move; indeed, they had to move, for if they had remained where they were they would soon have died from the heat of the desert by day or from the cold at night.  When the cloud remained in one place, they remained.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 617)


This vast company of people was being led out into a desert region that, as anyone who has ever been there can tell you, is one of the most inhospitable regions on earth.  In the daytime the temperature can easily reach 140 or 150 degrees, and at night it can fall below freezing.  To survive in such a region the vast host of Israel needed water and a shelter from the sun.  The rock, which Moses was instructed to smite with his rod, provided water, shelter was provided by the cloud, which spread out over the camp of the people to give them protection.  Without this special and miraculous provision the people would have died.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 616)


Jesus, in John 8, was not only saying he is the light of the world, but that the benefits and comforts that came with the cloud in the wilderness came from him.  What a precious, wonderful truth!  He is saying, “I was the One who protected you.  I guided you through the wilderness.  It was I who enveloped the tabernacle.  It was I who came into the temple of Solomon and filled it with such glory that the priests could not serve.  I am the Shekinah glory.”  Such was the claim he made for himself.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 229)


On the first night of the feast, and probably on succeeding nights also, after the sun had set, two great lamps were lighted in the courts of the temple.  These were said to have cast their light over every quarter of the city.  The lamps were meant to recall the pillar of cloud and fire that had accompanied the people in their wanderings in the desert.  This was the cloud that had appeared on the day when the people left Egypt and had stood between the Israelites and the pursuing armies of the Egyptians the night before the crossing of the Red Sea.  It kept the Jewish people from being attacked.  Later it guided the people through the wilderness.  It also spread out over them to give shade by day and light and warmth by night.  I believe that it was in clear reference to the ceremony of lighting the lamps and naturally, therefore, also to the miraculous cloud itself that Jesus referred when he claimed to this world’s light.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 615)


To the question “Who are you?” no adequate answer will be given until the Son of Man has been “lifted up”; that will be the definitive answer.  The cross is the complete revelation of the divine glory manifested in the Son.  Jesus had told the first disciples of the coming time when they would see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man; they could see no greater vision than that (Jn 1:50 f.).  “The Son of Man must be lifted up”, he said to Nicodemus, “in order that every one who believes may have eternal life in him” (Jn 3:15).  As we have seen before, his being “lifted up” on the cross is not only pictured as the first stage of his journey back to the Father; it is in itself his exaltation, the occasion of his being glorified (cf. Jn 12:23, 31-33).  (F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, 195)


  1. God’s Guidance. (Jn 8:12; see also:  Ex 13:21-22; 14:19-25; Nm 9:15-23)


The cloud was important because it was the primary means by which God guided the people while they were in the desert.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 617)


Jesus professed to be not only the inexhaustible source of spiritual nourishment, but he also was the genuine light by which truth and falsehood could be distinguished and by which direction could be established.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 92)


The symbolism of the feast of Tabernacles (now in progress or just ended) reminded the audience of this light which the ancestors had enjoyed as a guide.  Those who had followed it and had not rebelled against its guidance had reached Canaan.  The others had died in the desert.  So it is here:  the true followers not only will not walk in the darkness of moral and spiritual ignorance, of impurity, and of gloom, but will reach the land of light.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John 7-21, 42)


Remember in the darkness what you have learned in the light. (Joseph Bayly as quoted by Philip Yancey; The Bible Jesus Read, 71)


Whenever you see darkness, there is extraordinary opportunity for the light to burn brighter. — Bono


If only we realized that everything which enters our life is ordered by God, and we acted in accord with this, then should we maintain our composure and conduct ourselves with unruffled serenity.  But only one perfect life has been lived on this earth; and our innumerable imperfections only serve to emphasize the uniqueness of that life.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 432)


  1. One with God.

(Jn 8:12, 14, 18-19; see also: Psa 27:1; Jn 5:17-19; 10:30; 14:6-9; Ch 17; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor 4:4-6; 1 Jn 1:5-7)


The word light was specially associated in Jewish thought and language with God.  “The Lord is my light” (Ps 27:1).  “The Lord will be your everlasting light” (Isa 60:19).  “By his light I walked through darkness” (Job 29:3).  “When I sit in darkness the Lord will be a light to me” (Mic 7:8).  The Rabbis declared that the name of the Messiah was Light.  When Jesus claimed to be the Light of the World, he was making a claim that which none could possibly be higher.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, Vol. 2, 13)


The Lord’s use of the absolute, unqualified phrase I am (the pronoun He does not appear in the Greek text) is nothing less than a direct claim to full deity.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 348)


The phrase “that I do nothing of myself” is the same that we have had frequently before, as in Jn 5:19, 30.  It means “that I do nothing of my own independent authority.”  The reference is to the perfect union between the Son and the Father.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 110)


If they had really recognized who he was, they would have known the Father also–not only because Jesus reveals the Father, so that truly to know Jesus is to know the Father, but also because special revelation from God is required to know who Jesus is (6:44, 45).  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 341)


The Lord was always conscious of His heavenly origin (3:11-13; 5:36-37; 6:33, 38, 50-51, 58; 7:28-29, 33; 8:42; 10:36; 13:4; 14:28; 16:5, 28; 17:5, 8, 13, 18; 18:36; cf. 1 Cor 15:47; Eph 4:10).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 347)


Christ’s death and resurrection vindicated every claim ever made for Jesus by the prophets and apostles, and erased all doubt to any open mind as to His deity.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 350)


(a) There is the judgment that is based on human knowledge and human standards and which never sees below the surface.  That was the judgment of the scribes and Pharisees; and, in the last analysis, that is any human judgment, for in the nature of things men can never see below the surface of things.

(b) There is the judgment that is based on knowledge of all the facts, even the hidden facts, and that can belong only to God.  Jesus claims that any judgment he passes is not a human one; it is God’s–because he is so one with God.  Therein lies at once our comfort and our warning.  Only Jesus knows all the facts.  That makes him merciful as none other can ever be; but it also enables him to see the sins in us which are hidden from the eyes of men.  The judgment of Jesus is perfect because it is made with the knowledge which belongs to God.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, Vol. 2, 15)


“The more spiritual light they have enjoyed, the more they have seen their own countless defects and shortcomings.”  (J. C. Ryle; Holiness, xxi)


John tells us that the proof that we are walking in the light is that we have “fellowship with one another” (1 Jn 1:7).  If you’re not having regular fellowship with other believers you should seriously question whether or not you are really walking in the light. (Rick Warren; The Purpose Driven Church, 339)


8:19-20.  The Pharisees, mystified about Jesus’ reference to his Father, asked him, “Where is your father?” (See also 14:8ff.).  They might as well have been saying, “Bring on the other witness; we wish to question him.”  If his father was the other witness, then where was he?  In their very presence, Jesus affirmed that they knew neither him nor his Father.  Their unwillingness to “know” him when he was among them also kept them from knowing the Father, who was just as truly among them.

Jesus had already told them that his Father was with him, but their question showed that they did not know the Son or the Father–for “if you knew me, you would know my Father also.”  When Jesus speaks, the Father speaks.  But this was completely lost on these religious leaders.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 175)


The Lord was always conscious of His heavenly origin and destiny; in 16:28 He said: “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (cf. 3:11-13; 5:36-37; 6:38; 7:28-29, 33; 8:42; 10:36; 13:3; 14:28; 16:5; 17:5, 8, 13, 18).  His self-knowledge and divine omniscience (cf. 2:25; 16:30; 21:17) thoroughly confirmed His testimony.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 337)


The leading object of the sentence appears to be to excite in the minds of the Jews thought and inquiry about His divine nature.  “I am one who came from heaven, and am going back to heaven.  Ought you not to inquire seriously who I am?”  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 102-3)


Our Lord here gives a solemn and weighty reason why His testimony to Himself ought to be reverently received by the Jews, and not refused.  That reason was His divine nature and mission. He came to them and stood before them not as a common prophet and an every-day witness, but as one who knew the mysterious truth that He was the Divine Messiah that should come into the world.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 92)


If Christ had dealt with these insulting opponents as they thoroughly merited, not only would He have upbraided them, but He would have passed an immediate sentence of condemnation upon them.  Instead of doing so, He contented Himself by affirming once more that the witness He bore of Himself was true, because it was in the most perfect accord with what the Father Himself has said.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 444)


In common fairness to the Pharisees it must surely be admitted that it is not surprising that they were stumbled and incensed by Jesus.  For so enormous and breathtaking are his claims that if they were not true, he would be an impossible person, crazy beyond words, or inordinately swollen-headed, without any parallel.  Millions of people now know that they are true; have proved it and experienced it.  But what wonder that his original hearers, looking at a carpenter from Nazareth, that unimportant provincial town in a forgotten corner of the world; and listening to a man who spoke, it may be, with the broad slurred vowels of the rather uncouth Galilean accent, which always excited a measure of ridicule in polite and cultured circles; to one at least certainly unversed in the learning of the schools; and hearing such a one of all people announce, I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life–what wonder if they pushed such claims aside as a preposterous throwing about of words without sense or meaning, flatly incredible on the face of them!  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 8, 594)


If this were only a matter of something within the framework of human experience and apprehension, then the rabbinic maxim would hold true and would be useful.  But in terms of knowing God, only God can testify.  In this case, God the Son is bearing witness both to himself and to God the Father, and the testimony should be accepted because of these unique circumstances.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 621)


The “human standards” in this verse stand for all that is human in man as opposed to that which is of God; it involves the limitations of being human, including limitations in knowledge and in objectivity.  Here were men who were testifying about men.  They were partial in their estimate of men.  They excused themselves and others.  In opposition to this, Jesus declares that his judgment is not limited as theirs is, but rather is impartial.

Moreover, it also is sinless.  For being of “human standards” in biblical language also implies being sinful; and this, too, Jesus is denying.  He is the sinless One.  So the distortions of sin do not enter to invalidate his testimony.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, 622)


III.  Heaven-sent Savior of the world.  (Jn 8:12, 14, 18, 24; see also: Isa 49:6; Mt 1:21; Lk 19:10; Jn 3:16, 36; 14:6-9; Acts 4:12; 10:43; 1 Tm 2:5)


Jesus Christ alone brings the light of salvation to a sin-cursed world.  To the darkness of falsehood He is the light of truth; to the darkness of ignorance He is the light of wisdom; to the darkness of sin He is the light of holiness; to the darkness of sorrow He is the light of joy; and to the darkness of death He is the light of life.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 334)


As man’s world grows ever darker it should be ever more clear that Jesus is the Light of the World.  — Buddy Briggs


“Belief in the inner light may be the shortest road to the outer darkness.”  — J. S. Whale


“He claimed to posses the water of life, and He died of thirsting.   He claimed to be the light of the world, and He died in darkness.  He claimed to be the good shepherd, and He died in the fangs of wolves.  He claimed to be the truth, and He was crucified as an imposter.  He claimed to be the resurrection and the life, and He expired sooner than most victims of crucifixion usually did, so that Pilate was amazed.  Strangely enough, the culmination of His career seemed to live the life to its intended meaning.  If the greatest example of righteousness that the world has seen became a helpless victim of evil, then supreme tragedy is the burden of John.

From the divine viewpoint, the Fourth Gospel is not tragedy, but triumph.” (Merrill C. Tenney; The Gospel of Belief, 52)


There is light at the end of the tunnelvision . . . but often it’s an oncoming train. — Buddy Briggs


Worship Point:  Your worship cannot be in Spirit and in Truth (Jn 4:25) unless or until you are convinced Jesus is Who He says He is.


In one way or another, worship begins with a revelation of God.  But it is more than just encountering a revelation of God.  Worship is incomplete without a response to God revealed.  One of the God-ordained responses to him is prayer, and another is worshipful song.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 307)


The humblest of us, in a state of Grace, can have some “knowledge-by-acquaintance” (connaître), some “tasting,” of Love Himself; but man even at his highest sanctity and intelligence has no direct “knowledge about” (savoir) the ultimate Being–only analogies.  We cannot see light, though by light we can see things.  Statements about God are extrapolations from the knowledge of other things which the divine illumination enables us to know.  (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 126)


Think about light.  The light in which we see cannot itself be one of the things seen.  For we can see the light only in so far as it is reflected off opaque objects. So it is the same with the Divine Light, I would argue.   The Light which is God we can only see in the creatures which reflect it.

Therefore, when we turn our minds away from the visible objects of Creation to God, it is as if we see nothing.  The world shines with the Divine Light.  But, the Light which causes it so to shine, is itself like a deep darkness.  (Rupert Shortt on Mars Hill Audio: Vol. 138; Disk 2, track 1)


Gospel Application: Unless we believe in the Jesus He claims to be we will CONTINUE to walk in darkness and die in our sins.  (Jn 3:16-19; 12:46; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 5:8)


By refusing the Light of the world, they doom themselves to the eternal darkness of hell (Mt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 339)


Persistent unwillingness to believe the truth about Jesus Christ, by its very nature, precludes the possibility of forgiveness, since salvation comes only through faith in Him (3:15-16, 36; 6:40, 47; Acts 16:31; Rom 10:9-10; Gal 3:26; 1 Jn 5:10-13).  Those who continue in unbelief, refusing to embrace in faith all that Jesus is and has done, will die in their sings and be lost forever (cf. 3:18, 36; Heb 2:3).  And apart from the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, no one can be saved.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 349)


Don’t you see when Jesus died, the minute He died, Lk 23:45, it says darkness was over the whole land for the sun stopped shining.  What does that mean?  The darkness came into him.  He took the darkness.  He took the consequences of what was done.  He took the darkness. . . . He died in the dark, the ultimate dark, so we could live in the light.  So we could have the light that never goes out.  (Tim Keller; The Hour of Darkness)


There is more light in the shadow of the cross than all the bright lights the world tries to entice us with, combined . . . (Buddy Briggs; HFM Take-Home Page, May 26th, 2019)


The one and only way to the Father is the Son; cf. 5:38; 14:7, 9; Mt 11:27.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John 7-21, 44)


The essence of sin is that it separates a man from God.  When Adam, in the old story, committed the first sin, his first instinct was to hide himself from God (Gn 3:8-10).  The man who dies in sin dies at enmity with God; the man who accepts Christ already walks with God, and death only opens the way to a closer walk.  To refuse Christ is to be a stranger to God; to accept him is to be the friend of God, and in that friendship the fear of death is forever banished.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, Vol. 2, 17)


I found the following exchange between Annette and her Grandmother in Patricia St. John’s Treasures of the Snow very helpful:

“If you hated someone, you couldn’t ask Jesus to come into your life, could you?”

“If you hate someone, it just shows how badly you need to ask Him to come in.  The darker the room, the more it needs the light to come in.”

“But I couldn’t stop hating Lucien.”

“No, you’re quite right.  None of us can stop ourselves thinking wrong thoughts, and it isn’t much good trying.  But Annette, when you come down in the morning and find this room dark with the shutters down, do you say to yourself, I must chase away the darkness and the shadows first, and then I will open the shutters and let in the sun?  Do you waste time trying to get rid of the dark?”

“Of course not!”

“Then how do you get rid of the dark?”

“I pull back the shutters, of course, and then the light just comes in!”

“But what happens to the dark?”

“I don’t know; it just goes when the light comes!”

“That is exactly what happens when you ask Jesus to come in.  He is love, and when love comes in, hatred and selfishness and unkindness will give way to it, just as the darkness gives way when you let in the sunshine.  But to try to chase it out alone would be like trying to chase the shadows out of a dark room.  It would be a waste of time.”  (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 8/4)


What the world needs is not knowledge; it is not teaching; it is not information; it is not medical treatment; it is not psychotherapy; it is not social progress; it is not punishment, even.  It is none of these things.

What men and women need is a new heart, a new nature, a nature that will hate darkness and love the light, instead of loving the darkness and hating the light.  They need an entire renovation, and, blessed be the name of God, it is the very thing that God offers in and through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  The Son of God came and took unto himself human nature.  He united it to himself in order that he night give us that nature. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Way, Not Ours: Isaiah 1, 67)


The word for sin is hamartia, which originally had to do with shooting and literally means a missing of the target.  The man who refuses to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord has missed the target in life.  He dies with life unrealized; and he therefore dies unfitted to enter into the higher life with God.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, Vol. 2, 17)


How sadly mistaken are they who say that it is harsh and uncharitable to speak of the future destiny of unbelievers.  The example of Christ should teach us better.  He did not hesitate to press this awful truth, nor should we.  In the judgment of the writer this is the one truth which above all others needs to be pressed today.  Men will not turn to Christ until they recognize their imminent danger of the wrath to come.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 442-3)


To search for glory in the cross of Christ is to turn the values of man upside down.  Yet in this darkest hour of human history we see light piercing the shadows, a beam that beckons us to look beyond the obvious, to peer above the shadow to the glory beyond.  Without light there can be no shadow. (R.C. Sproul, The Glory of Christ, 149)


If the Cross is the place where the reality of human nature is unmasked, then the idea of a perfect earthly society is an illusion.  (Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, 126)


This must mean heaven, the everlasting abode of glory which the Son had with the Father before He came into the world, which He left for a season when He became incarnate, and to which He returned when He had finished the work of man’s redemption.  To this a wicked man cannot come.  Unbelief shuts him out.  It is impossible in the nature of things that an unforgiven, unconverted, unbelieving man can go to heaven.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 103)


Their intention was to plunge Christ into the lowest hell.  He tells them that they will be completely disappointed, and that the event will be altogether contrary to what they thus expect.  He may, indeed, have intended to allude to the outward form of his death, that he was to be lifted up on the cross; but he looked chiefly to the glorious result of it, which soon afterwards followed, contrary to the expectation of all.  True, indeed, in the cross itself he gained a splendid triumph over Satan, before God and the angels, by blotting out the hand-writing of sin, and canceling the condemnation of death, (Col 2:14); but it was only after that the Gospel had been preached, that this triumph began to be made known to men.  (Calvin’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, 338)


It is the darkness of fallen human nature, a predisposition to embrace falsehood (cf. Jn 18:37) and to love corruption (Jn 3:19).  It is the love of sin that John equates with blindness (Jn 9:41).  It would be a serious mistake to underestimate the power and pervasiveness of this corrupting darkness.   (David Wells; God in the Wasteland, 42)


Spiritual Challenge:  Light dispels darkness.  Fight tenaciously against the Devil and his schemes.  Endeavor to live from above and move from darkness (sin, ignorance and unbelief) into the Light.  (Jn 1:4-5)


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  —Martin Luther King, Jr.



There were several tactics in Jesus’ strategic battle against despondency.  First, he chose some close friends to be with him.  “He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee” (Mt 26:37).  Second, he opened his soul to them.  He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death” (v. 38).  Third, he asked for their intercession and partnership in the battle.  “Remain here and keep watch with Me” (v. 39).  Fourth, he poured out his heart to his Father in prayer.  “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.”  (v. 39).  Fifth, he rested his soul in the sovereign wisdom of God.  “Yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (v. 39).  Sixth, he fixed his eye on the glorious future grace that awaited him on the other side of the cross.  “For the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Heb 12:2).  (John Piper, Future Grace, 306-7)


The Bible describes sinners as “those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness” (Prv 2:13); consequently, “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble” (4:19).  Yet those who foolishly “substitute darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isa 5:20) are without excuse, “for even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:21); they are “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph 4:18).  As a result of that ignorance, “the fool walks in darkness” (Eccl 2:14), and “he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes” (Jn 12:35).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 332)


The devil can traffic in any area of darkness, even the darkness that still exists in a Christian’s heart.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 15)


Let us recognize before we do warfare that the areas we hide in darkness are the very areas of our future defeat.  Often the battles we face will not cease until we discover and repent of the darkness that is within us.  If we will be effective in spiritual warfare, we must be discerning of our own hearts; we must walk humbly with our God.  Our first course of action must be, “Submit…to God.”  Then, as we “resist the devil…he will flee” (Jam 4:7).  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 16)


God can never entrust His kingdom to anyone who has not been broken of pride, for pride is the armor of darkness itself.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 17)


Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Eph 5:11).  When you expose and confess your sins, they no longer are in darkness (secrecy).  When light is turned on in a dark room, darkness becomes light.  So also, when you bring your sins out of darkness and expose them to light, they vanish in God’s forgiveness; they become light.   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 113)


The Greeks with all their wisdom and the Romans with all their laws were spiritually in the dark.  And the world is the same today.  Notwithstanding all the discoveries of science and all the efforts to educate, Europe and America are in the dark.  The great crowds see not the true character of God, the worth of their souls, the reality of the world to come.  And Christ is the only hope.  He has risen like the sun, to diffuse life and light, salvation and peace, in the midst of a dark world.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 435)


Salvation is not the removing of the world’s darkness.  It’s the shining of God’s light into the darkness.  And by the light, the darkness is driven away.  Salvation is the incarnation of God.  (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 193)


When a man is living in darkness, and is suddenly exposed to great light, he will not be enlightened; He will be blinded!  Because of this we must be discerning when exposing unbelievers, or new believers, to the deeper truths of the Lord.  Meat will not nourish babies; it will choke them.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 184)


Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself. — Erasmus


. . . our minds are darkened and corrupt, and we are ever battling the natural man, or the flesh.  Clearly, we are told, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God” (2 Cor 2:14 NKJV).  In other words, our flesh fights things that are not explainable.  (Ron M. Phillips, Awakened by the Spirit, 33)


Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell. (Thomas Watson; The Doctrine of Repentance, 77)


But we must first ascertain what necessity there is for seeking this light; for men will never present themselves to Christ to be illuminated, until they have known both that this world is darkness, and that they themselves are altogether blind.  Let us therefore know that, when the manner of obtaining this light is pointed out to us in Christ, we are all condemned for blindness, and everything else which we consider to be light is compared to darkness, and to a very dark night.  (Calvin’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, 324-5)


The thoughts of the ungodly are about things beneath; the true Christian’s affections are set on things above.  The ungodly man is full of this world; its cares and pleasures and profits absorb his whole attention.  The true Christian, though in the world, is not of it; his citizenship is in heaven, and his best things are yet to come.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 2, 100)


People living in the dark want everybody to be in the dark.   People who deny the Light are threatened by people who have seen the Light.  (Steve Brown message  “Kingdoms in Conflict” from Matthew 2)


A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person.  As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has to be brought into the light.  But since the sin must come to light some time, it is better that it happens today between me and my brother, rather than on the last day in the piercing light of the final judgment.  It is a mercy that we can confess our sins to a brother.  Such grace spares us the terrors of the last judgment.  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 116)


Jesus had already revealed his identity to them through his speeches, his miracles, and the Father’s testimony about him.  But the Pharisees were unable to understand because they were deaf to his word (8:43).  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 178)


They adopted the world’s principles, and judged according to carnal reasoning.  Because of this they were incapable of discerning the Divine nature of His mission and message.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 437)


Under a little pressure a man will say his prayers, read his Bible, become active in church work, profess to seek Christ, and become quite a different character; but only too often such an one is but reformed, and not transformed.  And frequently this is made apparent in this world.  Let the pressure be removed, let health return, let there be a change of circumstances, and how often we behold the zealous professor returning to his old ways.  Such an one may have “sought” Christ, but because his motive was wrong, because it was not the effect of a deep conviction of being lost and undone, his seeking was in vain.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 440-1)


The only time people cannot behold a light is when they are BLIND!  Only the spiritually blind cannot respond to spiritual light (insight).  (C.S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on John, 147)


Although they prided themselves on knowing Him, the Pharisees–blinded by their own hard-heartedness–were actually ignorant of spiritual reality (Mt 15:14; 23:16, 24).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 339)


Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Eph 5:11).  When you expose and confess your sins, they no longer are in darkness (secrecy).  When light is turned on in a dark room, darkness becomes light.  So also, when you bring your sins out of darkness and expose them to light, they vanish in God’s forgiveness; they become light.   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 113)


Spiritual Challenge Questions:


  1. According to Jesus, when is one living in the light? When is one living in the dark?  


  1. What is it like to live in the dark? Why does living in the dark many times lead to depression, discouragement, fear, worry and apathy? 


  1. Think about the times when the “light” finally went on in your brain about some subject, issue or concept and what a delight it was to finally “get it”. Dream about this question: What must it be like to “live comprehensively in the ‘light of life’” when all of life makes sense?   


So What?:  If we walk in the Light we have confidence, security, boldness, hope, courage and love so we can know who we are and Whose we are.  “In Christ”, we need never worry, fear or be discouraged as we are living in the Light.


If God can light up the snow at night in the dead of winter, with a dead rock suspended in space 240,000 miles away; then think what He can do to light up the small corner of my world with me.  — Brad Shaw


People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shrine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.  — Elizabeth Ross


The Spirit-illuminated Christian cannot be cheated.  He knows the values of things; he will not bid on a rainbow nor make a down payment on a mirage.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 94)


You truly shine more brightly as you move toward the light.  You hold onto God more steadily.  You’re more loving and joyful.  You’re more trustworthy.  More teachable.  You give to people rather than use them.  But brighter light also exposes more dark corners, pockets of unconscionable and once unimaginable iniquity.  (John Piper, Justin Taylor, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, 101)


The valley of the shadow of death holds no darkness for the child of God.  There must be light, else there could be no shadow.  Jesus is the light. He has overcome death.  –D. L. Moody  (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 3/19)


“There are times, when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.” (Vaclav Havel as quoted by Os Guinness; Time for Truth, 98)


When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off.  You sit still and trust the engineer.  –Corrie Ten Boom  (John Ragsdale, How Do I Deal with Anxiety and Fear?, 41)


He had in his hand a parchment and was studying its text.  “It’s from the Book of Psalms,” he said.  “Some translations render the passage as if it was speaking about waking up early.  But it can literally be translated as, ‘I will awake the dawn.’  Imagine that!  Imagine if you had the power to wake the dawn!  Would you like to know how?”

“To wake the dawn?” I asked.

“Tell me,” said the teacher, “why is it dark?”

“Because it’s nighttime,” I replied.

“Not really,” he replied.  “It has nothing to do with the time.  We think of night as a period of time.  And, of course, in one sense, it is.  But night is not so much a period of time as it is a state of being.  It isn’t dark because it’s nighttime.  It’s nighttime because it’s dark.  Night is the effect of the earth’s turning away from the light of the sun.  Night is the earth dwelling in its own shadow.  God is Light.  So when you turn away from God, you create the night.  When you turn away from His presence, night comes into your life.  When you turn away from His truth and away from His love, darkness comes to your heart.  And you end up dwelling in your own shadow, in the shadow of your turning.”

He paused a few moments before continuing to speak.

“So is the night,” said the teacher.  “What about the dawn?  What is the dawn?”

“Dawn is when the earth turns away from the darkness and back to the sun.”

“So how do you bring about the dawn?  How do you cause a sunrise?  You turn away from the darkness.  You turn away from your sins, away from substitutes and distractions and idols.  You turn away even from focusing on yourself and your own shadow.  And you turn back to the Light.  You don’t have to wait for the dawn.  You can cause the dawn to come.  (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 308)


“The glass filtered out every ray of light except for the red.  Even though the garden is filled with colors, all you can see through the glass is the red.  The world, like this garden, is a mix of colors.  What God created is good.  But the creation is fallen and is now a mix of good and evil.  It will be your glass that will determine what you see and what you receive of the world. . . The things you take for granted will become the filter of your glass.  If you live expecting and requiring of this world heaven and perfection, if you live as one who deserves to be blessed, and thus taking the blessings for granted, you’ll become blinded from seeing your blessings.”

“I would have thought it to be the opposite.”

“No,” said the teacher.  “What you take for granted is that what you blind yourself from seeing and what you end up losing.  If you take the good for granted, you’ll filter out the good.  And the only thing you’ll see is all that is wrong and not good–the imperfect and the dark.  So requiring heaven of this life ends up removing heaven from this life, and makes life hellish.”  (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 191)


Have you ever tried going through an obstacle course blindfolded?  The smallest obstacles become difficult obstructions.  If we are not walking in the light of Christ, the obstacles that should not be a problem are great stumbling blocks to us.  But when we have that light, we understand how to make our way through this dark world.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 229)




of the WORLD



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