Fyodor Dostoyevsky famously once said, “If anyone could prove to me that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ and not with truth.” While Dostoyevsky’s words are obviously tongue-in-cheek, his intention was to point out the overwhelming evidence in favor of Christ being of undisputed origin of the Father. Yet, in today’s passage we encounter a group of religious leaders on a grand adventure in missing the point. Blinded by their insincere and arrogant piety, they err in seeing the very presence of God in their midst.
- As you prepare to encounter today’s passage, contemplate times in your own life where you have chosen to follow the letter of the Law rather than the Son of God, who wrote and fulfilled the Law.
READ THE WORD: JOHN 8:12-20 (ESV)
12 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 judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father 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.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- The context of this passage is the Feast of Tabernacles, where the giant lamps in the Women’s Court (treasury) were lit to symbolize God’s presence with the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings. Some scholars even postulate that Jesus might have been lighting a candle on a candelabra as he made this reference to light and darkness. What did Jesus claim about himself in verse 12?
- Old Testament Law required two witnesses to establish fact in court cases, and Rabbinic tradition rejected self-testimony; thus, the Pharisees rejected Jesus’ claim (vs. 12). What was Jesus’ rebuttal to their blinded legalism in verse 14?
- If the Pharisees had understood who Jesus was, what would they have known about him? Think not only about what Jesus has done, but think, too, about the kind of person he has shown himself to be.
- What do you know about Jesus? Who do you believe him to be?
RESPOND TO GOD
The Oxford dictionary defines authentic as, “of undisputed origin.” It is a curious definition I have come to use almost daily in my counseling of others. I believe it resonates with people because we live in a culture that is utterly detached from our geneses. To put it succinctly, we have no idea who we are. Our identity has become lost within an entangled mess of legalistic behavior and idolatrous practices, tied together with the barbed wire of shame. If we are ever to live within the light of Jesus Christ, we must find our way out of this darkness and back to the brilliance of our own authenticity—our own imago dei.
- In prayer, ask the Holy Spirit this simple question: “Who is Jesus?” Whether you have been a believer for 30 years or have never encountered Christ, spend time pondering the words and works of Jesus Christ.
“Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Russian novelist of spiritual depth,” Available online here. Accessed May 8, 2017.