Christ at Tabernacles, Part 5
(Light of the World)
As we’ve gone through the 7th and now the 8th chapter of John… we’ve gained a lot of information concerning the feast of Tabernacles. We know that Jesus didn’t want to arrive into
with a large “entourage” in tow… because He knew that the Jews were anxious to
arrest… and kill Him.
So, after sending his brothers (and disciples) on ahead… Jesus left Galilee for the last time… and went to
on His own… Joh
…as it were in secret.
When He comes into Jerusalem… it appears that He lays low for a few days… probably enjoying the crowds and each day’s activities… because we don’t have a record of Him doing anything there until somewhere in the middle of the week when He boldly enters the Temple and begins teaching.
When some of the people began questioning Him about His education and authority… He let them know that His origins were from God.
And some among the people were so incensed with this declaration that they tried to take Him… presumably to the authorities for judgment… but they were divinely prevented because… Joh 7:30 KJV … his hour was not yet come.
Now this won’t be the last time we’ll read those words… because our passage today ends with the exact same statement… Joh 8:20 KJV … and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
All the plans and intentions of “mice and men” don’t make even a scratch in the Father’s plan. Try as Satan might… he had no power or authority to bring about the capture or the destruction of the Son of God… before the time!
Those men who had heard Christ’s words and were so angered by them… were just as ineffective in “taking” Jesus before His time… as Pilate was in securing His release when once His time had arrived.
The Father’s plan for the salvation of men would proceed right along… according to His time schedule and predetermined counsel… and nothing in the universe would either rush it… or delay it.
We also discovered that of all the festivals given by God to the Israelites on Mt Sinai… this particular festival was the most loved by the people. It was a festival that commemorated the wanderings in the wilderness… and it was filled with meaningful and symbolic ceremonies…
Ceremonies such as the Water Libation ceremony where the priests would pour water out at the altar each day… commemorating the water that Moses drew from the rock…
Then each evening there was a Candle Lighting ceremony. On either side of the
Temple… in the court of Women…
there stood two huge golden candelabrums… on which hung a multitude of lamps
that would be lighted after the evening sacrifices.
On the first night… and then on each succeeding night of the festival these were lit, and they would pour out such a brilliant flood of light… that the
Temple and the surrounding
city would be illuminated. The people
would dance around them, and the Temple
musicians and choir would play and sing.
These candelabrums symbolized the presence of God, leading His people through the wilderness, in a pillar of cloud during the day… and a pillar of fire at night.
Now… in this 8th chapter… we’re also in the 8th day. The festival is effectively over. The shelters that had been erected for the festival were either taken down… or still in the process. The ceremonies were done… The waters from the pool of Siloam aren’t poured out anymore. The candles aren’t lit to illuminate the night sky any longer. The crowds are leaving…
And it’s probably in this gap that remains… the void that’s felt by everyone --similar to the void we feel today after Christmas… and while still in the Court of Women… which was also where the “treasury” was located… and after dealing with the interruption by some Scribes, Pharisees and the adulterous woman… that Jesus turns His attention once again to those He had been teaching… And we see…
I. The Light Revealed
Joh 8:12-20 KJV 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 people had just spent every day of the previous week being reminded of the wilderness wanderings… the water from the rock… and the pillar of cloud by day… and pillar of fire by night…
That light, which led the children of
Israel for 40
years… was no ordinary light. It
provided guidance in their
wanderings… comfort through the
knowledge that God was among them… and protection
It was an event that was unlike anything in human history. The only parallel to it that I can think of… might be when God walked and communed with Adam & Eve in the garden. For 40 years… God was visibly dwelling with His people…
So, undoubtedly, part of their daily readings during this feast that commemorated those wilderness wanderings, also included… Exo 13:21 KJV And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
Now… we have other examples in recorded history of large groups of people… whether they be in caravans or armies… being directed in their travels in a similar fashion.
For instance… in the case of an army… a pole would be set up in front of the Commander’s tent which would have a pot of fire suspended from it so that its light would be visible at night… and its smoke by day.
When marching… this pole and firepot would be carried at the head of the column… and the direction taken… would be clearly seen by all who followed… Especially if great distances and level tracts of land were involved…
But what distinguished the Israelites from all others was that the Lord, Yahweh Himself, was in that fire and in that cloud. Yahweh dictated the path and direction they would go.
The Israelite’s wandering in the wilderness for 40 years was controlled and ordered by God. They had no idea one day after another which direction they’d take. They simply followed the Lord.
And that beacon of fire was unaffected by weather patterns, or atmospheric influences. There was no storm that would put it out… no amount of desert heat would quench it. It continued to give uninterrupted guidance and never altered its shape or became unrecognizable to the people.
That cloud by day… and fire by night brought unimaginable strength and comfort to all who were led by it…
God led His people through new territory. There was no road map to follow and every time they “struck camp” to move to someplace else… they would walk across ground that was both new… and unknown to them.
And so He leads us even today. Those who keep their eyes on the “light of the world” and walk with Him… will never walk in darkness. They won’t trip over unseen and hidden obstacles… because their path is clearly lit.
This isn’t to say that the follower of Christ won’t ever stumble or even fall… but it does mean that the one who does… does so either through ignorance, or because they’ve closed their eyes momentarily to the light that He provides. And folks… even in the brightest of day… if your eyes are closed… you will stumble over obstacles that others clearly see.
And when we aren’t sure of the direction we’re to take… or maybe we’re concerned that the path we’re on is going the wrong way… we can rest in the same comfort that the Israelites did, in the knowledge that God has given us a “cloud”, and a “fire” to follow… that lights the path before us.
And we read about it in… Psa 119:105 KJV Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
God’s Word is the “light” that illuminates the path before us…
And where the Israelites had that “external” light to follow in their journeys… we have the advantage in that our light is both “external” in the written Word of God… and “internal” because we… Joh 8:12-20 KJV … shall have the light of life.
Through faith in Christ… His light dwells within us… but it also emanates from within to illuminate the life of Christ to everyone around us. Just like the song that Rita mentioned last week in her scripture reading… “This little light of mine”… The light shines through us for others to see.
Hide it under a bushel—NO! I’m gonna let it shine! So just like those “rivers of living water”, that bubble up within us to splash on everyone who comes near… this “light of life”… also shines out of us… and it reveals… Col 1:27 KJV …Christ in you, the hope of glory:
But… not only does light illuminate and reveal… it also blinds…
II. The Light Rejected
Joh 8:13-18 KJV The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. (14) 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. (15) Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. (16) And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. (17) It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. (18) I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
The Jews hated Jesus so much that they oppose Him at every turn. In their minds… every word He say’s is suspect. After making the bold claim of being the “light of the world” (which is now the second “I Am” statement Jesus has made in this book), they try to dismiss His claim by using a legal technicality.
Remember last week… when we talked about how God had given the Jews a law requiring multiple witnesses. For instance… we read in…
Deu 19:15 KJV One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
The Pharisees use this very law against Jesus… saying that because He makes this claim without any other witnesses who’ll verify what He say… then what He says has to be false. So therefore… they reject what He says as truth.
There are some problems with this reasoning. The first I want to point out is that the law of witnesses… wherever we read of it in the OT… the vast majority of times it is referring to “legal” proceeding, but especially… “capital” cases which will involved the execution of the offender. With the potential for such a harsh judgment… it makes great sense to have more than one witness.
The next problem is that by using this law in this fashion… they’re implying that every statement must be corroborated by someone else. The very idea that Jesus couldn’t make a statement independent of witnesses to verify what He says… is ludicrous. It’d be like me saying, “I’m hungry”… but that statement can’t be taken as true, without someone else saying, “Yeah! Terry is hungry.”
We’ve also seen in the 5th chapter where He’s already addressed this issue anyway. After He healed the paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda… He told these Jews many of them probably the same ones as now… that He had 4 witnesses to His truthfulness. John the Baptist, His works, the Father and the Scriptures.
But this time, He approaches their rejection a little differently. He flat out tells them that even if He did bear witness of Himself… His witness is true. They may have thought that they knew all about Him… but they really didn’t know Him at all.
But He is intimately aware of who He is, and He knew where He came from and where He was going. He is the Messiah of God… the second person of the trinity… who came from the father… and would soon be returning to Him. He is Lord… and as the Lord… there are things that only He can attest to, and He is perfectly capable of speaking truth in and of Himself because He is Truth personified.
However… since they aren’t capable of hearing this truth… or seeing past their blind hatred… He condescends to conform to their standard of human testimony, and again tell them that
Joh 8:18 KJV I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
It’s not just me… My Father also bears witness that what I say is truth… because I only say and do what my Father shown me. He has already given testimony of me at my baptism when He said… Mat 3:17 KJV …This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And at my transfiguration when He said… Mar 9:7 KJV … This is my beloved Son: hear him.
And, He still bears witness to Me through the miracles I do.
And just as the wicked do in all generations… if they can’t win their argument with words and reason… they will always resort to ridicule.
III. The Light Ridiculed
Joh 8:19-20 KJV 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. (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.
It is impossible to communicate with anyone who isn’t in a place where they will hear or understand. We build walls, don’t we? And we think they’re designed to keep us safe. That they will protect and shelter us from all the evil this world can throw at us.
But, a wall which keeps the bad out… can also keep the good out. This analogy of the walls that we build… goes right along with that old saying that… “There is none so blind as he who will not see.”
The Jewish hatred of Christ caused them to retreat behind their walls and refuse to see, and honestly deal with, what was right in front of them. I can almost visualize them putting their fingers in their ears and exclaiming “Na, na, na, na”… in a physical effort to NOT hear something they don’t want to hear.
To this very day… when the faulty arguments and the false reasoning of evil people fails… they will inevitably resort to ridicule, in their effort to “marginalize” an opponent.
And this is exactly what the Jews were doing with Jesus when they asked… Joh 8:19 KJV Where is thy Father?
The fact that they ask “where” not “who” indicates to us that they knew that He was speaking of God as His Father… So they made light of His virgin birth, by inferring that His wasn’t a miraculous conception… but an illicit one.
They probably looked around… as if to see if someone would step forward. Joh 8:19 KJV Where is thy Father?
But Jesus, with infinite wisdom and dignity… refusing to be baited… instead let them know that though they thought they knew Him… they didn’t know Him at all.
Had they truly known who Jesus was… they would have known the Father as well. Joh 8:19c KJV … if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
You can’t have one, without the other. If you don’t know one… you don’t know the other either. Deny one… you deny both. And this is exactly what they were doing… denying the Son… thereby denying the Father.
* * * * *
We deny the Son in many ways. We deny Him when we don’t believe in Him for our salvation. We deny Him when we don’t follow Him as we should, when we’re not obedient, when instead of speaking up…we’re quiet.
He has told us that He is the “light of the world” and that everyone who follows Him won’t walk in darkness… but that they’ll have the “light of life” emanating from them… providing light to others.
Do you know that this truth is operating through you right now? Have you trusted in Christ for your salvation? Have you been obedient to His commands and been baptized by being fully immersed in the water?
Do you speak up for Christ… and display the “light of life” to the people you come in contact with?
If you’re lacking in any of these areas… you can turn that around today. In a moment we’ll be closing in prayer and we’ll have a time of invitation. You can come forward and declare your faith in Christ publicly…
You can recommit your life to follow Him faithfully…
Or maybe you’re wanting to join with this fellowship of believers and have this become your church home…
It all begins with that first step out into the aisle.