25: The Exit of the Light

Studies in the Gospel of John

Lesson 25

“The Exit of the Light”

John 8:48 -59


Toward the end of his life, John wrote 3 letters to his students in addition to this gospel – “famous last words,” more or less. In these he characterized Jesus as “light.”  It is possible that he got that idea from observing and hearing the conflict with the Jewish religious leaders which is recorded in chapter 8 of his gospel. The whole theme of the chapter is light – specified in verse 12, where Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” In fact, the word “light” forms the outline for the whole chapter.  In verses 1 through 11 we have the exposure to the light, in which Jesus shined the light of His omniscience and grace into a practical situation. Then in verses 12 through 20 we see the explanation of the light in which He explained how He had done it; stood up under the Jews’ cross examination. In verses 21 through 30 we see an examination of the light in which the Jewish leaders continued their examination. In verses 31 through 47 we see the extension of the light in which Jesus explains how they (and we) can share in shining that light. That brings us, then, to the exit of the light in verses 48 through 59 .  These last verses demonstrate an important and sobering principle: light rejected will be withdrawn (on God’s timetable)

The principle is spelled out in Proverbs 29:1, which is a summary of II Chronicles 36:16, which is a summary of the principle.

He who is often reproved and hardens his neck shall suddenly be cur off, and that without remedy.”

The same principle is enunciated in several other places. For example, Matthew records Jesus’ statement of the principle in Matthew 23:37 through 39:

Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; For I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” (which will be at the return of Christ to set up His millennial kingdom.)

The principle continues into the New Testament, in Titus 3:10 and 11:

Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self condemned.

The context of this verse is people who were continually arguing about the place of the Old Testament law after the resurrection of Christ. But an application of it would be “If a person continues to argue after a clear explanation of the gospel, take the gospel elsewhere! You have better things to do than argue. With someone whose mind is made up. There are plenty of people who have never heard the gospel one time, so go tell it to them.

In verse 48 we find the Jews’ analysis of Jesus.

Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?

Demons were more active then than they are now – they caused all kinds of aberrant behavior – and still may cause more than we realize. So this was tantamount to saying He was crazy! Don’t be too critical of them, if He wasn’t God He was crazy. But they were more discerning than the liberals today. Jesus’ answer is in verses 49 through 51. First He explains the problem behind this whole argument.

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father and you dishonor me (50) And I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks and judges.

The whole problem is a matter of perspective: Jesus was simply honoring His Father. But they were dishonoring Jesus, so it appeared to them that He was crazy. Then in verse 51 He makes a promise.

Most assuredly I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he shall never see death.”

Think what a bombshell this would have been to these people. They were hearing it for the first time. By looking at verses 52 and 53 we can see what their assumption was:

Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; You say, if anyone keeps my word he shall never taste death. (53) “are you greater than our father Abraham who is dead? And the prophets are dead, whom do you make yourself out to be?”

Don’t be too hard on them – we have had opportunity to be taught that “death” is a reference to spiritual death. We understand that if a person accepts the gospel he will have eternal life. But they were hearing this for the first time and thought He was talking about physical death. And their argument progresses from that assumption. The godliest people they knew about had all died – Abraham and the prophets, etc.

So if He could keep people alive He would be greater than any of them! Who does He think He is? (verse 53) Jesus’ further argument is as to its source – verse 54


 Jesus answered, “If I honor myself, my honor is nothing. It is my Father who honors me, of whom you say that He is your God.


A person who honors himself is easily recognized and rejected – that kind of honor is nothing. But Jesus’ honor comes from the Father (at his baptismal announcement if nothing else.) The implication is that if they really knew God they would recognize the truth about Jesus.


The second part of the argument is as to simplicity in verse 55.


“Yet you have never known Him, but I know Him. And if I say “I do not know Him” I shall be a liar like you; but I do know and keep His word.


It would have been simpler to say He was no greater than Abraham, but He can’t say that because it isn’t true. The third part of the argument is as to spiritual sight in verse 56:


Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.”


Scripture doesn’t record a specific incident in which he “saw” this, but the implication is that through all of his experiences he understood the whole concept of Christ’s atoning work. Partly just because of God’s continuing guidance, then the birth of Isaac, and then the sacrifice of Isaac.


In verses 57 and 58 we see the Jews astonishment. They “just don’t get it, because they weren’t willing to try. Verse 58 is an absolutely clear statement of Jesus’ claim to be God. (although He made other indirect claims, as well.


Then the Jews answered and said to Him, You are not yet 50 years old, and have you seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am”


This was the term that God had given to Moses to use with the Israelites and Pharaoh in Exodus 3:14. Jesus used it again at His trial in Mark 14:61 and 62, And the violent reaction of the High Priest shows the significance of the term. And the reaction of the crowd here shows that they clearly understood it too. – they took up stones to stone Him.”


Jesus authentication is demonstrated in verse 59:


Then they took up stones throw at Him; But Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple going through the midst of them and so passed by.


The same thing had happened in chapter 7, verse 30 and explains “how,” but not “why” –


Then they sought to take Him, but no one laid a hand on Him because His hour was not yet come.


This authenticates who Jesus was, and underscores the over-all plan of God – “before the foundation of the world.”


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