Reader: “I am the light of the world.”
Response: “If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness.”
Scripture: John 8:12-19
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”
Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”
“Where is your father?” they asked.
Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
I have mentioned in other years and on other occasions, the more we know of Jewish practice and mindset, the better we’ll understand the Scriptures. Such is the case here. This discourse of Jesus took place in the fall during the Feast of Tabernacles or, as it is sometimes called, the Feast of Booths or Shelters (also known in Hebrew as Succoth or Sukkot). It is significant in Jewish religious faith because it was one of three required pilgrimage feasts, which meant Jews from near and far would be at the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate. (Remember the opening day devotional?) One of the ceremonial celebrations of this feast was the lighting of sixteen golden bowls on four menorah stands each filled with olive oil giving great light in this part of the Temple court, a place where the people were allowed only for this festival during the year. To quote, “The light celebration was reminiscent of the descent of the Shekinah glory in Solomon’s day and looked forward to the return of the Shekinah in the days of the Messiah (Exek.43:1-6).” It is in this context that Jesus spoke the above passage. His words would have registered with the Jews as the words of Isaiah pointing to the coming of the Messiah. As proof, the Pharisees immediately picked up the Messianic claim of Jesus and accused him of lying in his claim. So Jesus answered them using the Torah which says there must be at least two witnesses to validate any claim to truth (Deut. 19:15). Jesus and his Father were the witnesses. The logical question was what they asked. “Where is your father?” What immediately comes to mind is Jesus’ words, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” It then becomes very clear the Pharisees do not recognize who Jesus really was because they really do not know the God the Father, but are lost in keeping all their man made regulations and rules. Had they truly known God, they would have recognized who Jesus was.
I have to wonder how often God is moving in our midst and we are so oblivious and engrossed in our small world, that we fail to recognize his working among us. We don’t see him working through those around us. We live with such a low expectation. The other morning when I started working on these devotionals again, I had a bright kind of flash in my eyes that wouldn’t go away. It affected my reading and I had difficulty reading my screen. I had to stop. I was scared. I prayed and asked the Lord to heal the problem. I immediately told Nancy and she prayed. I looked up what the trouble could be. What I found was not comforting, I needed to act. So I pulled up our insurance page to find an eye doctor. When “Finding an Eye Doctor” came up, the flash in my eyes immediately went away as did some floaters that I’ve had for several years. My eyes have been fine ever since. Do I think God had a hand in this? Yes. What’s the point? The Light of the world is alive and well. We need to keep our eyes and ears open. His witnesses indwell us.
Music: “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” Mahalia Jackson She is singing to Jesus and we get to listen! Don’t miss this. There was only one of her. The best.
Bonus: “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” The Ladies of Lee University Beautiful
Prayer: An Evening Prayer
O Divine Father, whose mercy ever awaits those who return unto Thee in true lowliness and contrition of heart, hear now one humble suppliant who needs Thy help. Bravely did I set out this morning upon the life of a new day; now I lie down ashamed and burdened with memories of things undone that ought to have been done and things done, others that ought not to have been done and things you did which I missed entirely, not even recognizing your hand working in my midst. Bring to me afresh, O God, Thy healing and cleansing power so that again I may lay hold of the salvation which Thou hast offered to me through Jesus Christ my Lord. Quicken my heart to look for your presence and working as I go through the day tomorrow. Thank you for your grace, mercy and protection as I close my eyes at the ending of this day. In the name of the Good Shepherd, Jesus I pray. Amen. ―A Diary of Private Prayer, p.79, adapted Daniel Sharp