Friday, January 14, 2011

Jesus the Light of the World (Jn. 8:1-20)

This is a personal summary of the preaching of Rev Dr Stephen Tong on 9 January 2011 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 8:1-20

In this passage, Jesus was asked if this woman who committed should be stoned to death based on the law of Moses. The law of Moses would require that both the man and woman who committed adultery but the Pharisees brought only the woman to Jesus. This is very unjust. They looked for righteous punishment with unrighteous attitude. They were self-serving and not truly looking for God’s righteousness.

If Jesus said the woman should be stoned, it would with His mission to save sinners. If He said the woman should not be stoned, it would be contradicting the law of God. Instead, Jesus said that the one who had never sinned should be the first to cast the stone. It was gentle but stern statement. All of them realised they were unworthy to judge others so they left, from the oldest to the youngest. We often defend ourselves with the love of God but judge others with the righteousness of God. This is very unjust.

After everyone left Jesus asked had nobody condemned her. On one hand she was shameful, on the other hand grateful. Philosophers have discoursed on the purpose of punishment, whether it is to execute justice, to deter or to reform. Is it concerned for the past or the future?

The answer is in the words of Jesus which put everything in balance. He said, “neither do I condemn you, go and leave your life of sin.” More punishment does not mean the person will change. There is power in the words of Jesus which convicts the woman not to commit the sin anymore. This is the greatest lesson she learnt.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn. 8:12)

People do not understand His words because it sounds so simple yet nobody has ever spoken like that before, it is actually too profound and difficult to understand. No wise teacher ever declared himself to be the light of the world, not Plato nor Socrates. How can a Galilean declare He is the light of the entire world?

The Westminster Confession acknowledges that there is the light of nature but it is not sufficient. The Scriptures give the answers that philosophers are seeking after.

Jesus also said that whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. What does it mean to walk in darkness? It is something frightening. Even a sprinter cannot move confidently in darkness. If people who heard truly understood this would kneel down before Him in worship. But they did not understand hence they accused Him of making invalid testimony as He spoke of Himself. The Pharisees hated Jesus, no matter what Jesus said and did, they could not see the hand of God.

“Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.””

In that reply, Jesus gave three principles. The first principle is the Source. Jesus said even if He testified of His own it is still valid as He knew where He came from and where He is going. He came from the Source therefore all He said is true. But His audience did not know where He came from and where He was going, therefore they accused Him. There is a relationship between the source of the truth and the validity of one’s testimony.

The second is the reference. Jesus said His Father is with Him. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting His Father.

The third principle is multiple witnesses. Jesus said He is not the only witness. In Chapter 5, Jesus said His works, the Holy Spirit, His disciples, His Father, and the Scriptures all testify of Him.

From the book of Moses to the New Testament, there is never a singular witness. In the New Testament, there are four gospels instead of one. God honor His own principle. Other religions are established on the foundation of singular witness, like Jehovah’s witnesses (only Charles Taze Russell), Seventh Day adventist (only Helen White), Mormon (only Joseph Smith), Buddhism (only Sakyamuni), Islam (only Mohamed), etc.

Singular witness cannot be the truth. It is necessary to have two or three witnesses. This is the principle from God. May we learn to establish the foundation of our faith.


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