"I am the light of the world" – see John 8:12- 9:41
In these verses we learn that the blind, those who realize their need for Christ’s salvation, receive their sight (salvation) and the "sighted" (prideful Pharisees) remain blind (spiritually lost). This continues the message Jesus gave at the Feast of Tabernacles. Here we see four contrasts:
- Vv. 12- 20 – light vs. darkness – Another theme and symbol of Tabernacles was light, celebrating the autumn equinox. During this feast sixteen large golden bowls filled with oil-soaked, worn-out priestly garments would be lit and light up the entire city and even for miles around as Jerusalem was on a hill. (Remember there was no public lighting in cities of that day so this was quite a display.) In this context Jesus declares Himself the light of the world (not just Israel) and calls us to follow Him to avoid the darkness of a lost world. Light is a major theme throughout Scripture. (See Gen.1:3; Ex. 13:21; Psalm 119:105; John 1:4-9, 12:35-36; 1 John 1: 5-7) Jesus said no one can know the Father if they don’t know the Son for He has come to reveal the Father. You can imagine how this accusation angered the Pharisees! Thus the Jewish leaders did not know God because they rejected Jesus the light of the world and remained in spiritual darkness. All religions other than Christianity deny the deity of Christ – the light of the world and remain in spiritual darkness.
- Vv. 21-29 – life vs. death – "You will die in your sins if you don’t believe in Me" (v. 24). We are all born in sin and choose to sin (Rom. 3:23) and thus must be born again. Those who are born once die twice (physical and spiritual death) and those who are born twice only die once. When Jesus was "lifted up" (v.28) refers to His death (the cross) but ultimately His resurrection, ascension and thus proof that He is the Son of God (Romans 1:4). "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." (John 11:25) Jesus always did what was pleasing to the Father which is God’s call for each of us. Let’s pray that we like Jesus will be passionate for the Father’s pleasure. This is life-giving for others and ourselves.
- Vv. 30-47 – freedom vs. bondage/slavery – "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (vv. 31, 32) One test of true salvation is obedience to Jesus’ teachings. The Jews prided themselves in "spiritual freedom" and were incensed that Jesus would say they were slaves to sin. Then He made the bold statement that their father was the devil and that they did not belong to God. Wow! The devil was a murderer from the beginning and they wanted to and ultimately did "murder" Jesus (although only by His consent). Being a son of Abraham or good Christian parents or church members does not mean we are Christians. Salvation is an inward work of God as we trust Jesus Christ to be our sin bearer and to deliver us from the power of sin. (Romans 6:6-7)
- Vv. 48-59 – honor vs. dishonor of God – Jesus’ passion was to honor and glorify His Father not Himself. If we desire to receive honor from men more than honor from God it will hinder our faith and obedience to God. "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?" (John 5:44) We dishonor the Lord by living in a way that does not reflect His character. We, like Jesus, must always point others to God’s glory.
Jesus not only declares Himself to be the light of the world, in chapter 9 He demonstrates this by bringing sight to a man born blind. A blind person in Jesus’ day was desperate and hopeless for any kind of meaningful life. They did not have the assistance provided today (Braille, seeing-eye dogs, etc.) nor the social/government welfare programs. This is a picture of our desperate condition of spiritual blindness apart from Christ. We are eternally hopeless without His salvation. Once again we see a growing revelation of the Person of Christ in descriptions from the blind man: "a man called Jesus" (v.11); "He’s a prophet" (v.17); "a man from God" (v.33); "Son of Man" a Messianic title (v. 35); and finally "Lord" and "he worshiped Him" (v. 38). Jesus Christ is Lord! Many people wrongly reject the Lord because of an unbiblical understanding of the problem of evil and suffering, especially personal suffering (e.g., the blind man in this chapter). Suffering is a mystery in God’s hand so we can never make an exact one to one cause and effect from an act of sin to a consequence of suffering, as the disciples did in verse two. God is never accountable for evil. He is the Author/Creator of the ones who do evil (fallen angels and fallen man) but never the cause of evil. Without an understanding of the fall in Genesis 3 and the tremendous change in mankind and all of creation (from "it is good" – to sin, death, disease, demons, etc.) people’s view of life is very confused as if one is coming in at the tail end of a movie. A clearer translation of verse 3 is: "Neither this man nor his parents sinned (i.e., to bring about this blindness), said Jesus. But so that the work of God might be displayed, we must do the work of Him who sent Me while it is still day." "Night is coming when no one can work." By "night" Jesus is alluding to His death. This is true for us too – we must serve the Lord while we still have life, while it is still "day". There are two things we won’t be able to do in heaven: lead others to Christ for salvation and help people in need. (See Ephesians 5:15-17)
The Pharisees once again showed their true heart – they loved their laws (and thus power and position) more than they loved people. Healing on the Sabbath did not violate the Old Testament Law but only the legalistic additions to the Law by Jewish leaders. They tried their best to either refute the miracle (a case of mistaken identity) or put Jesus down for a violation of the Law of Moses. We see the fear of the parents (if anyone confessed Jesus as the Christ they would be put out of the synagogue) and the great courage of the blind man in not denying Jesus. (See vv. 24-34) "The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe." (Proverbs 29:25) Jesus, as the only way to God, is still the lightning rod of division even among family members, friends and business associates and even among people in a "Christian" nation like America (used to be). Why do we fear the disapproval of people more than the disapproval of God (Who sees everything), to whom we will all have to give an account one day? If we rightly fear the Lord (i.e., trust Him, revere Him and earnestly desire to please Him) we really should fear no one or nothing in life.
Then Jesus sought out the blind man (He is always looking for His lost sheep – Luke 15:4; Ezekiel 34:11-16). Later we see the greatest miracle as he received his spiritual sight (salvation) and worshiped the Lord. No man or angel should receive worship. Worship belongs to God and Him alone and thus this shows the deity of Jesus Christ.
"And Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind." Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, "We are not blind too, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains."(vv. 39 -41) Jesus’ light of pure white holiness is the judgment He brought into the world. Compared to other "sinners" we all may look white but compared to Jesus we all have much darkness. (John 3:19-21) And unless we come to the light (Jesus) and receive His pardon and salvation we will, like the Pharisees, "remain in our sins."
Questions for reflection/application:
Discuss how we can follow the "light of Christ" today in His absence. (See Ephesians 5:8-21)
Before we knew Jesus and "saw the light" we naturally sought our own pleasures. How as Christians can we now be passionate to live for the Father’s pleasure as Jesus did?
"We must do the work of Him who sent Me while it is still day. Night is coming when no one can work." How are you working to lead people to the Lord and serve those who know Him?
Where do you see Christians (or yourself) who still fear man and seek their approval more than seeking honor from the Lord – i.e., at work, among friends, etc? (See John 5:44)
That we would see Jesus,
Len and Kristen