Jesus is still at the temple near where the people bring their offerings (the treasury). The last round of “Pharisee challengers” has dispersed and He has sent the woman caught in adultery on her way. The tension in that place was explosive and now it feels calm by comparison. And though they are not mentioned, the crowd must be catching their collective breath and wondering what has just happened?
Jesus, never one to miss the moment, answers that question. “I am the light of the world.” This is about darkness and light. I am the light set in the midst of a dark place; a place where the truth cannot be seen; where people are running into the furniture, banging into doorways and can’t see a way out. “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” I am not a Savior that just turns on the switch and stands back to see if you can now work your way out of this mess. I am the guy with the flashlight who is standing right here and if you follow me there will always be light for your way.
The temple is the place for debate, right? It’s a place to show off one’s heady and impressive and clever conversation about the sacred text. It is a place where those educated leaders seek to ply their trade. It’s tight and claustrophobic…it’s dark in here. And if keeping one’s position of leadership and power and prestige is important maybe we like it that way. (O Lord, protect me from wanting to live in the dark and hold anyone else in there with me!)
So the Pharisees: “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” Here’s a rule you are breaking and so we don’t have to believe you.
Jesus’s message is always the same: I’m not here by myself or even for myself. I’ve been sent by the Father. The Father is the One you say you follow and since you don’t recognize that He is here maybe you should consider if you are in the dark.
Jesus: Let me put it another way. I could but frankly I’m not here to judge you. You are trying to figure me out on the earthly plane – I’m talking about another vantage point. Guys, the building is burning and the Father has sent me and if you don’t believe me and follow me out of here – well, you’re gonna die!
“Who are you?” There it is again – the 64 thousand dollar question. It says they didn’t understand He was talking about the Father. Why is that connection so important? Over and over Jesus points to the Father and the Father’s authority. (Lord, where is it that I don’t get this connection in my life. What am I missing?)
Jesus’ reply to their failure to understand is: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” I could easily get lost in this verse for days, taking it all apart but the thing that strikes me is “lifted up”. When I read in another translation this morning the footnote said “same word as exalted”. When you have exalted the Son of Man…then you will know all these things…
As he was saying these things, many believed in him. The Light came into the darkness.
There is this simple but mysterious relationship between the Father and the Son.
What does it look like, in practice, for me to exalt Jesus today?
About the World?
Living in the dark is a dangerous position.