bible blog 1274

This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline form world news:


John 8:12-20

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

12 Yeshua spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life.” 13 So the P’rushim said to him, “Now you’re testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Yeshua answered them, “Even if I do testify on my own behalf, my testimony is indeed valid; because I know where I came from and where I’m going; but you do not know where I came from or where I’m going. 15 You judge by merely human standards. As for me, I pass judgment on no one; 16 but if I were indeed to pass judgment, my judgment would be valid; because it is not I alone who judge, but I and the One who sent me. 17 And even in your Torah it is written that the testimony of two people is valid. 18 I myself testify on my own behalf, and so does the Father who sent me.”

19 They said to him, “Where is this ‘father’ of yours?” Yeshua answered, “You know neither me nor my Father; if you knew me, you would know my Father too.” 20 He said these things when he was teaching in the Temple treasury room; yet no one arrested him, because his time had not yet come.

"The Light of the World" by Holman Hunt

“The Light of the World” by Holman Hunt

I’m still using the Complete Jewish Bible translation. The “P’rushim” are Pharisees. Yeshua is Jesus’ Aramaic name. It means, “God rescues.”

The whole of John’s gospel keeps posing the question of Jesus’ identity. How can this apparently ordinary human be the One Sent by God and how can he claim God as his Father? In this passage Jesus also clams that he is the light of the world. Those who walk in his way will always have the light of his wisdom to guide them. Naturally enough the Pharisees dismiss this as mere boasting. Why should they accept one man’s estimate of his own importance? Jesus gives two answers:

1. Even his own single testimony is valid because he cannot be judged by worldly standards, due to the mystery of where he comes from and where he is going to. He means, from God and to God. 

2. His “Father” testifies to his special status. Jesus does not say at this point how the Father does this. In fact the whole story of John’s gospel is the answer: The Father testifies to his Son by the words he gives him to say and the deeds he gives him to do. Especially he gives him the “signs” the miracles which point people towards his divine origin and destiny. For John it is not primarily the miraculous nature of these deeds, but their significance that counts. John will shortly tell the story of Jesus healing a blind man, the significance of which is that Jesus is the “light of the world”, he allows people to see the truth.

In fact no amount of argument or supportive testimonials could ever prove that a man is the light of the world. His words and actions would have to convince us of this staggering claim. We would have to find that our own lives had been illuminated; that his way had healed our blindness and opened our eyes to the unveiled truth. We would have to experience something like the “abundant life” that Jesus promised to those who followed him. We might then come to believe that in such a man, we were receiving the gift of a goodness not human, not of this world. Then we might understand what John meant by “the father’s witness to Jesus.” This may sound an unlikely scenario but it is what happens in the life of every Christian believer.

The Lifting Up

The Lifting Up

For John doubtless, the supreme witness of the father to  Jesus is in his “lifting up”, that is in his death and resurrection, which will strip away all unreality, revealing the ugliness of human evil and the beauty of God’s love; the impotence of hate and death and the power of God’s abundant life in Jesus his son. At this point in the story, that crucial witness is still to come.

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