Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Further Teaching on the Seventh Day
THE last day of the Festival of Tabernacles, the seventh day, is still in progress. Jesus is teaching in the portion of the temple termed “the treasury.” This is apparently in the area called the Court of the Women where there are chests in which people deposit their contributions.
Every night during the festival, there is a special illumination display in this area of the temple. Four giant candlesticks are installed here, each with four large basins filled with oil. The light from these 16 basins of burning oil is strong enough to illuminate the surroundings to a great distance at night. What Jesus now says may remind his listeners of this display. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus proclaims. “He that follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.”
The Pharisees object: “You bear witness about yourself; your witness is not true.”
In answer Jesus replies: “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my witness is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I came from and where I am going.” He adds: “I am one that bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”
“Where is your Father?” the Pharisees want to know.
“You know neither me nor my Father,” Jesus answers. “If you did know me, you would know my Father also.” Even though the Pharisees still want Jesus arrested, no one touches him.
“I am going away,” Jesus again says. “Where I am going you cannot come.”
At this the Jews begin to wonder: “He will not kill himself, will he? Because he says, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’”
“You are from the realms below,” Jesus explains. “I am from the realms above. You are from this world; I am not from this world.” Then he adds: “If you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”
Jesus, of course, is referring to his prehuman existence and the fact that he is the promised Messiah, or Christ. Nevertheless, they ask, no doubt with great contempt: “Who are you?”
In the face of their rejection, Jesus answers: “Why am I even speaking to you at all?” Yet he goes on to say: “He that sent me is true, and the very things I heard from him I am speaking in the world.” Jesus continues: “When once you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing of my own initiative; but just as the Father taught me I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to him.”
When Jesus says these things, many put faith in him. To these he says: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“We are Abraham’s offspring,” his opposers chime in, “and never have we been slaves to anybody. How is it you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Although the Jews have often been under foreign domination, they do not acknowledge any oppressor as master. They refuse to be called slaves. But Jesus points out that they are indeed slaves. In what way? “Most truly I say to you,” Jesus says, “every doer of sin is a slave of sin.”
Refusing to admit their slavery to sin puts the Jews in a dangerous position. “The slave does not remain in the household forever,” Jesus explains. “The son remains forever.” Since a slave has no inheritance rights, he may be in danger of dismissal at any time. Only the son actually born or adopted into the household remains “forever,” that is, as long as he lives.
“Therefore if the Son sets you free,” Jesus continues, “you will be actually free.” Thus, the truth that sets people free is the truth regarding the Son, Jesus Christ. It is only by means of the sacrifice of his perfect human life that anyone can be freed from death-dealing sin. John 8:12-36.
◆ Where does Jesus teach on the seventh day? What occurs at night there, and how does this relate to Jesus’ teaching?
◆ What does Jesus say about his origin, and what should this reveal about his identity?
◆ In what way are the Jews slaves, but what truth will set them free?