John 8:12-20; 12:44-46
Before us are two passages from John. All that John recorded in chapters 8 through 12 took place in Jerusalem during the last year of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The calendar date of John 8 would have been prior to the feast of the dedication (Jn. 10:22). Bible scholars suggest the likely date to be that of the feast of tabernacles. The second passage (chapter 12) occurred in Jerusalem in the week preceding the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ Jesus. The two passages are separated by about six months.
“Then spake Jesus . . .” (v. 12). The audience to which Jesus spoke was composed of scribes and Pharisees. The scribes and Pharisees were well studied in the scriptures. They knew that the scriptures declared that God would raise up a prophet like Moses from the midst of the people (Deut. 18:15) but they rejected the possibility that Jesus could be the one of whom Moses spoke. Jesus told them that He was the light of the world and that they could walk in the light of life by following Him.
The Pharisees were provoked by Jesus’ words. They responded by saying that He witnessed of Himself and His witness was not true. On an earlier occasion, Jesus had said, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true” (Jn. 5:31). Having made this statement, why did Jesus witness of Himself? Jesus answers this very question in the verses that follow.
Jesus told them that their claim that He bear witness of Himself was true but that which He said was true. Jesus told them why they were wrong. They were wrong because they did not know from what place Jesus came and to what place that He should go.
The scribes and the Pharisees knew Jesus as a man who came from Nazareth of Galilee. The place that they desired Him to go was some place else. They did not want to hear what Jesus was telling them. They did not the light of life. They desired darkness.
New Testament believers know that Jesus came from the Father and that He has returned to the Father to intercede for us. We know that which the scribes and Pharisees did not know. We know that Jesus was the expression of God in the flesh, that all which He spoke was of God the Father. We have received the light of life.
Jesus told them that their judgment was made according to the flesh. Jesus made it clear that He did not condemn them. He said, “I judge no man.” Believers know that God did not send His Son into this world to condemn the world (Jn. 3:17).
Jesus had failed the Pharisees’ truth test because He had testified of Himself. In stating that He came to judge no man (v. 16), Jesus gave the Pharisees cause to repeat their charge that He testified of Himself. Continuing in His reply to the Pharisees, Jesus cited the law of Moses. Jesus stated that His words were the testimony of two witnesses — Himself and the Father who sent Him. Believers dwell in the light and are given understanding. We know Jesus to be fully man and fully God. The Pharisees were in darkness. They asked, “Where is thy Father?”
Believers know “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). The Pharisees did not know the Father. Believers know the Father because believers know the Son. If one does not know the Son, one cannot know the Father. The only manner in which one can know the Father is through the Son.
Jesus answered, “Ye neither know me, nor my Father” (v. 19). The Pharisees knew of Jesus but they did know Jesus. The Pharisees were learned in the scriptures that speak of Jesus but lacked understanding. They did not know Jesus. If one does not know the Light of the World, one is in darkness.
Why did the Pharisees not see the light? Jesus answered that question when He spoke to Nicodemus in John 3:19. They loved darkness because their deeds were evil. The Pharisees were the most law abiding people on planet Earth but their deeds were evil. They looked to themselves for deliverance. God through the prophet Isaiah declared that man’s righteousness is as filthy rags. The Pharisees declared their filthy rags to be sufficiently clean to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said, “. . . except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). The Pharisees were condemned because they believed not on the light that the Father sent into the world.
In John 12:44-46, Jesus addresses an audience which has witnessed miracles testifying of God’s power but do not believe what they have seen (v. 37). The make up of the audience of John 12 is like that of John 8. Both looked upon the Light of the World and remained shrouded in darkness. They heard Jesus’ message and believed not. On each occasion, the message is the same — when one looks upon the one whom God the Father sent, one looks upon God the Father.
God the Father would have all men know Him. He has told us of the one He has sent. He shall be like unto Moses (Deut. 18:15); He shall be despised and rejected of men (Isa. 53:3); He was sent to pour out his soul unto death and justify many for He shall bear their iniquities (Isa. 53:11, 12).
New Testament believers know the One whom the Father has sent because the words which He spoke through Moses and the prophets have come to pass. The time to hear and believe is now for the Light shines for all who shall open their eyes and see.