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John 8:12-30 Study Guide: I am the Light of the World

Community Group Study Guide — The Light of the World
John 8:12-30

Study Information:

John 8:12-59 continues the themes around the Feast of Tabernacles that we learned about in John 7. The people of God would reenact their wilderness wandering from Exodus and Numbers by living in tents for a week. The priests would lead them in joyous corporate song and various rituals that reenacted the wilderness time, particularly the times when God gave his people water from the rock. They did this through an elaborate pouring out of water onto the altar in the temple. Another ritual was one that involved torches to illuminate the temple. This could have pointed to God’s presence with them as fire by night in the wilderness. John 8:12-59 took place in an area of the temple called “the treasury”, which was a place called the “court of women” (John 8:20). This part of the temple was really busy because it contained 7 chests for various gifts and offerings. During the feast they would set up large torches that were as high as the temple walls in the courtyard and each night refill them with oil so they’d continue to burn brightly for everyone around to see. Jewish literature tells us that people would dance with torches in their hands and sing songs as the Levites led them in music each night. 

Once again, Jesus interrupted the celebration and used the imagery of the Feast and applied it to himself. Jesus declared “I am the light of the world! Whoever follows me will no longer walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” As we work through this passage we read that Jesus is the image and glory of God and reveals to us who God is and how we can be free from darkness.

The Glory of God
John 8:12-20
When Jesus said that he is the light of the World he was saying that he was the one who revealed God and guided God’s people into truth. Just as God showed up and revealed his presence and guided them in the wilderness, so now Jesus does that with his people. Our default state is walking in darkness. Sin turns our eyes inward and as Jesus said earlier in John 3, we do not come to the light out of fear of being exposed. Our tendency is to stay in darkness and to hide from God which is separation from him. Jesus came so that we would not longer be separate from God. As John said in John 1:14 and 18, Jesus is the glory of God and has made him known. That is what it means for Jesus to be light; he reveals God’s presence and God’s truth to us and at the same time exposes our sin and need for God so that we’d no longer walk in darkness but in the light of life. 

The Pharisees reject the Light of the World. Their complaint against him was that Jesus bore witness about himself making him a false witness. In their Law you had to have more than one witness for something to be considered true and at the moment their claim is that Jesus alone was testifying to his deity and the salvation in him (John 8:17). Where was his support? Jesus did have two witnesses though, Christ and the Father. God the Father bore witness about Jesus in the scripture and the actions of Jesus are meant to reveal to us what the Father has taught. Jesus says to this crowd that complained about him, “if you knew the Father you’d know me.” Light reveals, and Jesus as the Light of the World reveals God’s character and glory in a deep and real way. Their issue is that since they did not truly know God the Father, they did not recognize Christ as the Son of God. 

Christ Desires to Make us Heavenly People
John 8:21-30
Another reason the religious leaders were unable to receive Jesus as the Light of the World is that they were worldly people. We often do not think of religious people as being worldly because they can give off an air of spirituality, but Jesus corrected the religious leaders for being “of this world” (John 8:23). Jesus pointed forward to his going back to God the Father’s side and how they could not follow him. They debated about whether he would commit some sort of self harm; in previous passages they got confused and thought he would go into exile out of Israel. But, Jesus was pointing out that since they rejected the truth of him, they could not enter heaven nor understand heavenly truth. 

The Pharisees were shocked and asked him “who are you?” It was a "who do you think your are?!” moment. Jesus’ response pointed back to his heavenly identity. First, he was from the beginning (John 8:25). This statement is less about him referring back to the start of their conversation and more about pointing to who he is, and this view is backed up by how John 8 ends where Jesus said “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Second, Jesus is united to God the Father. He speaks as the Father taught him, under the Father’s authority as a way to reflect God’s glory, character and truth to them. The result of all of this is that God the Father is pleased with Jesus (John 8:29). Through faith and believe we too can be united to Christ and made heavenly people and live out lives that are pleasing to God. Jesus came as the Light of the World to reveal truth and guide us into holiness as redeemed and renewed people. The religious leaders rejected this and wanted to snuff out the light and live in darkness. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
Read John 8:12-30

Have you had a time when you’ve been in literal darkness? What was that like? What role does light play in revealing and guiding you?

What does the light of the world image point back to in the biblical storyline?

How did Jesus challenge the Pharisees attachment to the world? Why did the religious leaders miss the identity of Jesus?

Look at John 8:23-30. In what ways did Jesus reflect the Father?

How does the truth that God wants to make himself known and guide us into a life that please him encourage your faith?