The Gospel of John – Lesson 21 – John 8:12-30

12 When Jesus spoke to them again, he said, “I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You testify about yourself. Your testimony is not valid.” 14 “Even if I testify about myself,” Jesus replied, “my testimony is valid, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I came from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh. I am not judging anyone. 16 But even if I were to judge, my judgment would be true, because I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me. 17 Even in your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is valid. 18 I am one who testifies about myself, and the Father who sent me testifies about me.” 19 Then they asked him, “Where is your Father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the offering box. But no one arrested him, because his time had not arrived yet. 21 So he told them again, “I am going away. You will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews asked, “He won’t kill himself, will he, because he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 “You are from below,” he told them. “I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. 24 That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am the one, you will die in your sins.” 25 “Who are you?” they asked. Jesus replied, “What I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you. But the one who sent me is true. And what I heard from him, these are the things I am telling the world.” 27 They did not understand that he was talking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one, and that I do nothing on my own. But I speak exactly as the Father taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what pleases him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

With the opening words of this reading, John makes it clear that this conversation with the Pharisees happened sometime after the previous section of Scripture. Jesus began by saying “I am the Light of the World.” One of the characteristics of the Gospel of John is a series of statements Jesus made called the “I AM” statements. We’ve already encountered some of these statements in our studies of the Gospel of John. In John 4:26 Jesus said to the Samaritan woman “I who speak to you am he.” In John 6:35 he said “I am the bread of life.” Later in John 10:11 he said “I am the good shepherd.” In John 14:6 he said “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

This subject isn’t merely good Bible trivia. The words “I am” call to mind what God said to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3). Moses asked the Lord what name he should use if the Israelites asked who sent him to them. God replied “I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14) Jesus was using this same wording when he spoke about himself. His meaning was clear. Jesus is proclaiming he is the same God who called Moses to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land. Even Jesus’ enemies understood what Jesus was saying. Later in John 8 we will see how Jesus used another “I am” statement. In response the Jews picked up stones to kill him. In their minds he spoke blasphemy since he used a title that God had used for himself.

Jesus called himself the “Light of the World.” The meaning is quite simple. From the moment we enter this world until the moment we depart in death, sin is our constant companion. Sin penetrates ever part of our being with a thick oppressive darkness we could never escape from. This darkness hides our eyes from our lost condition. It keeps us from seeing that we are under God’s judgment and there is nothing we could do to escape our guilt.

You can see this darkness in those Jesus spoke to. The Pharisees told Jesus his testimony wasn’t valid, because Jesus testified about himself. Jewish law stated you could not establish a case with only one witness. (See Deuteronomy 17:6) They refused to consider the clear testimony the Holy Scriptures gave about Jesus as he fulfilled every prophecy about the promised Messiah. They refused to consider his miracles. Jesus did things only God could do. They refused to consider his powerful teaching which clearly explained the Holy Scriptures. They kept asking Jesus who he was, but they would not listen to his answer. They wouldn’t accept the clear testimony he gave them that he is the true Son of God and the Savior of the world. They walked in darkness just as the sinful world walks in darkness concerning Jesus today. It is the same darkness we were born into this world with. Without the gift of the Holy Spirit we could not believe in Jesus.

Jesus, the Light of the World changed all that for us. He said “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus light shined on some of those in his audience. The closing verse of our reading said “As he was saying these things, many believed in him.” Our Lord graciously did the same thing with us. The light of salvation he brings penetrated to the core of our sin darkened souls and filled us with the good news that he alone is our Savior. That Gospel light lets us see that Jesus won the forgiveness of our sins. All who trust in him have eternal life. Jesus isn’t the only one who testifies to this. His heavenly Father testified about his Son from the beginning. The Holy Spirit testifies to us through Word and Sacrament. All Scripture clearly points us to Jesus Christ as the light that cuts through the darkness of sin and makes us heirs of eternal life.

Discussion Questions

1 – The Pharisees stated that Jesus’ testimony wasn’t valid because he testified about himself. How did Jesus show the validity of his testimony?
His testimony would have been valid on its own because Jesus is the Son of God. But his testimony was also supported by his heavenly Father and by the Holy Scriptures.

2 – The Pharisees believed in God, yet how could Jesus say they didn’t know the Father?
The Pharisees refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and the promised Messiah. Jesus said in John 14:10 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I am telling you I am not speaking on my own, but the Father who remains in me is doing his works.” Those who reject Jesus also reject God the Father who sent him.

3 – When the Pharisees asked Jesus “Who are you,” why did Jesus answer them as he did?
Jesus had clearly testified about himself from the beginning of his ministry. They kept asking him because they didn’t believe in him. He also made it clear that everything he said and did was in full agreement with the will of God the Father. Only the Son of God could make such a statement.

4 – What truths did Jesus explain about his relationship with his heavenly Father?
The Father and the Son, (along with the Holy Spirit) are perfectly untied in all things. They are three persons in one divine being. The Son is never alone. The Father always remains with him. Everything Jesus does pleases his heavenly Father because Jesus’ will is in perfect agreement with the will of God the Father.  

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to