Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgement is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father[a] who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
Who’s on Trial?
Much of the book of John reads like a legal case, but it is a little confusing who is on trial. For example, in this passage it looks like Jesus is on trial and in his defence he lacks authority because he doesn’t have two witnesses. However, as the light of the world, he brings judgement on the darkness. In particular he is bringing judgement on the nation of Israel (who are called to be God’s light) and on its leaders. The leaders’ defence is to state that Jesus has no right to accuse them because he doesn’t have the legal number of witnesses to make his case. He replies that his witness and the witness of his father, God, fulfill the legal requirements in the Bible to condemn an individual.
God is making his case today, too. He has provided the Bible as a standard to show us how we don’t measure up to his original design for the world. We can think that’s no big deal or we can see that God has plans for us. To accept God’s mercy and grace we have to stop our legal defence. We have to admit that there is nothing we can do except to be saved by God. We contribute nothing to our own salvation.
Are you able to surrender and admit that the case Jesus makes against us and our world is true. Can you accept the verdict that we are naturally lost in darkness? Will you come from darkness to light?
Let us surrender and accept the verdict about our heart of darkness. Let us crucify the old man and take on the new life of light and peace that you have bought for us.
- What does Jesus claim to be?
- How does this claim lead to a judicial process?
- What is the motive for the Jewish leaders to defend themselves?
- How is this world darkened?
- If God still sits as judge over this world and its people, what is his pronouncement?