The Exit of the Light
Tim Temple

Introduction

Toward the end of his life, John, the author of this Gospel that we have been looking at, wrote three letters to his students. These letters, I, II, and III John are what we might think of as famous last words from John. In I John, chapter 1, verses 1-7, he said that he was writing to them to tell them about Who Jesus was from his own eyewitness account. In verse 5, he summarized that by saying:

I John 1

5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Then he goes on to talk about walking in the light and having fellowship with God and fellowship with each other. I think that John may have gotten that concept about Jesus Christ from hearing Jesus in the confrontation that we find Him in here in the Gospel of John, chapter 8.

Jesus had as the theme of this confrontation the fact that He is Light. He specified in verse 12 of chapter 8, “I am the light of the world.” In fact, the concept of Light forms the theme and the outline of this whole chapter. We have talked about all of these verses down to verse 47. In this lesson, we want to look at verses 48-59.

If you have been with us in this study, you are familiar with the outline. First, in verses 1-11, Jesus shined the light of His omniscience and of His mercy into the life of a woman who was taken in adultery. We have referred to those first eleven verses as Exposure to the Light . Jesus showed the Light of His presence in the sinfulness of men and women around Him. Then in verses 12-20, He gave an explanation of how He had done that. He stood up under the Jews' cross examination in an explanation of the Light. In verses 21-30, the Jews continued to argue with Him, and we called that part of the chapter the Examination of the Light . In verses 31-47, which we looked at in our last study, He made an extension of that Light to those very ones who were rejecting Him. He said to them, “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed.” He offered salvation to them. He offered fellowship with Himself. He extended the Light to them, but again that was argued away by the Jews.

Light Rejected Will Be Withdrawn

That brings us to the last point in the outline—the exit of the Light, in verses 48-59. I have pointed out as we have been going over this outline in advance that this is not the extinguishing of the Light, but it is simply the exit of the Light. Jesus' life and ministry did not end here. The Pharisee's arguments and debates didn't extinguish the Light, but He simply exited from their presence.

That exit of the Light demonstrates a very important but often overlooked principle of Scripture—that is the principle that Light rejected will be withdrawn. I want to talk about that for a few minutes, because it is easily misunderstood. I want to ask you to listen carefully to what I am saying. This passage demonstrates that when a person continues to reject the Light that he has, God retracts that Light on His timetable. Who can say when the last hearing of the Gospel has been had? Only God can say that. It is summarized in Proverbs, chapter 29, verse 1.

This verse is probably a summary of what God wrote at the end of II Chronicles. You remember that II Chronicles covers the history of Israel after they had turned away from God and during the years that the prophets were coming to them. In II Chronicles, chapter 36, verses 15-17, the writer summarizes how God had sent prophets to them again and again and pleaded with them to come back to Him and pleaded with them to return to Israel's foundational truths of the Scripture. They simply hardened their hearts and refused to hear him. Because of that, God withdrew the glory from Israel and withdrew His guidance from Israel. For many years they wandered in captivity to other nations. Proverbs, chapter 29, verse 1, builds on that situation and summarizes it in this way:

Proverbs 29

1He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

We focus, perhaps, on the “suddenly be destroyed” part, but notice the prelude to that: “He, who is often reproved…” God reproves us in His grace over and over again and often. But one who is often reproved and hardens his neck and refuses to accept the reproof shall suddenly be cut off without remedy. That is one passage of Scripture that articulates this principle of Light rejected being withdrawn.

Another illustration of the principle is in Matthew, chapter 23. Toward the end of His time on earth, the Lord Jesus went out on the hillside overlooking Jerusalem. In verses 37-39, He said:

Matthew 23

37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

The rejection of Light brings the exit of the Light. Farther over in the New Testament, Paul wrote to Titus in Titus, chapter 3, verses 10-11, and he said:

Titus 3

10A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
11Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

Notice what he said. There is a certain kind of person who is to be rejected. This is in the context of contentions and strivings about the law Paul wrote to Titus, and what he is saying to Titus—God recorded it for our use—is that a person who continues to insist on his own interpretation of doctrine, a person who continues to reject the Gospel and is divisive about that is to be rejected. The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to his protege, Titus, and said, “Take the Gospel elsewhere when a person continues to reject.” Notice what he says: “…after the first and second admonition…”, but the time comes when the Gospel is to be taken from that person and given to somebody else.

An admonition, in the sense of this context, would be a complete understanding of the Gospel. What God says is, “If you have dealt with a person and have given him the Gospel in a way that you are sure he understands the content of the Gospel, and you have given it to him twice, and he still wants to argue about that and reject that, then you have got better things to do than to continue to give the Gospel to a person who is going to reject it.”

That does not mean that someone else may not come along and give him the Gospel later, but God's instruction is, “You leave him alone. Take the Gospel and go somewhere else.” If you haven't been exposed to this doctrine before, this may sound pretty harsh, but all I have done is read from the Scripture to you God's instruction about removing the light when it is rejected.

From a theological standpoint, what we are talking about is what some call the irresistibility of grace , meaning that grace is irresistible. I am on thin ice when I submit this to you, but I submit to you that grace is resistible. God allows a person to hear the Gospel and to hear it many times, perhaps, but the time comes when God's Spirit no longer strives with man, and God takes the light and goes elsewhere. The light is not extinguished, but the light exits.

That is what we find in these verses in the life of Jesus. In the previous verses, Jesus had made this gracious extension of Himself to these men who were arguing and debating and rejecting Him. He clearly told them that He was God. He explained the offer of salvation, and they continued to reject Him.

The Jews' Analysis of Jesus

In verse 48 of John, chapter 8, the first thing that we see is the Jews' analysis of Him:

John 8

48Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

In the verse just before this, Jesus had once again said that He was God. He had used the name of God which is I AM , so they labeled Him as having a demon. Demons were much more active in that era of history than they are today, and demons caused all kinds of abhorrent behavior. I believe demons, even today, may cause a lot more abhorrent behavior than we may realize. I believe some of these random acts of violence, some of these senseless killings that we hear about are very likely the work of demonic powers—demons that work in our world today. But we are so sophisticated, and we have things so carefully analyzed that it is a lot harder for us to see the work of demons in our day. On the other hand, demons were so active in the time that Jesus was on the earth. That is an interesting concept in itself.

Some Bible scholars have demonstrated that as far as any records that we have, demons were much more active during the years that Jesus was on the earth than they were before or after that time. That demonstrates that Satan was most anxious that Christ die by some means other than by going to the Cross, because it was His death on the Cross that had been prophesied, and it is His death on the Cross that brought about our salvation. At any rate, when these men said that Jesus had a demon, what they were saying in their own vernacular was, “You are crazy.”

Don't be too critical of these men because Jesus Christ was claiming to be God, and He is going to claim that again in the next few verses. He had made it clear that He was claiming to be God. Let me tell you something. If Jesus Christ was not God, then those men were right. He was crazy. All this silly stuff about Jesus being a great teacher, great humanitarian, and a great peacemaker is baloney. If Jesus Christ was not God, He was crazy. Someone has coined the phrase, liar, lunatic, or Lord . It just doesn't fit the truth of God's Word to say that Jesus was a great teacher, but He wasn't God. These Jewish leaders, even though they were mistaken were on the right track. They were a lot more discerning than liberals today. They didn't say, “Oh, you are a great teacher, but you are not God. They said, “You're crazy. You're claiming to be God; you're crazy.”

Jesus Was Honoring the Father

Jesus' answer to that is in verses 49-51. First, Jesus explains the problem behind this whole argument, in verses 49-50. Look at verse 49:

John 8

49Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
50And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

Jesus is saying that the whole problem is a matter of perspective, a matter of how you look at things. You see, Jesus was simply honoring His Father. Jesus, in His teaching and His confrontation of the Jewish leaders, was simply doing what the Father had given Him to do. All through the Gospel of John, He has been saying this: “I do those things that please Him. I'm not doing My will, but I am doing the Father's will.” So, He said, “All that I am doing is honoring the Father.” At the same time, He said, “You are dishonoring Me, and since I am honoring the Father, and you are dishonoring Me, you can't see Me or the Father correctly. No wonder you think I am crazy. You have this whole thing out of perspective. I am honoring the Father, but you are dishonoring Me, so you can't see things as they really are.”

Jesus Promises They Won't Die

In verse 51, He makes a promise. He says:

John 8

51Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

All through this passage, one of the things that most of us have to battle with is remembering we are familiar with these things, but they were not. Think what a bombshell this would have been to these people. They were hearing it for the first time, but here Jesus says, “Anyone who keeps My Word will never see death.” Jesus just wouldn't let up on these people. He is about to withdraw from them, but they don't know it, and we wouldn't know it except we have read ahead in the story. He is giving them one last chance to hear what He has to say, and He is making sure that they understand what He has to say. He is going over it several times. “If anyone keeps My Word, he shall never see death.”

By looking at verses 52-53, we can see what their assumption was. Look at verse 52:

John 8

52Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
53Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

We need to remember that Jesus is talking about spiritual death, not physical death. In verse 51, when He talks of never seeing death, we know from the consensus of Scripture that He was talking about spiritual life and spiritual death. These men, to give them the benefit of the doubt, apparently didn't immediately understand that. Their assumption was that He was talking about physical death, and they prove it. We understand that if a person accepts the Gospel, he has eternal life spiritually. We fully expect anyone who has accepted Christ to die physically. We are not shocked when a Christian dies, even though we talk about him having eternal life. We know that eternal life is spiritual life. But these men were hearing this for the first time, and they thought that He was talking about physical death. Their argument progresses from that assumption. In verse 52, they point out that the most godly people they knew had all died—Abraham and the prophets, the greatest people they could think of.

Their point, in verses 52-53, is if Jesus could keep people alive, He would be greater than all those great godly men who did not triumph over death. In verse 53, they say, “Who do you think you are?”

In verses 54-57, there is further argument. I am using the word argument not in the sense of being argumentative, but in the sense of a logical argument. When we talk about building a case logically, we talk about the argument. We are not talking in terms of someone being argumentative. Jesus is not just arguing with them; He is logically arguing His case before them to make sure that they don't misunderstand.

The Source of Jesus' Honor

The first part of His logical argument is as to His source, in verse 54.

John 8

54Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:

Obviously, a person who honors himself is easily recognized and rejected. We have all seen people who are constantly seeing to it that you know how important they are and constantly making sure that everybody hears about the honors that they have won and the awards that have been given to them. Those kind of people honor themselves, and we don't like to be around a person who is honoring himself. The Proverbs say, “Let another speak your praise, and not you yourself.” It is a principle of Scripture.

Jesus reminds them of that principle: “I am not honoring Myself when I say these things.” Jesus' honor came from the Father. Someone might say that Jesus was claiming that, but when did His honor come from the Father? At the time of His baptism as Jesus came up out of the water, the dove appeared, and the voice from Heaven said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

Seminary students argue about who actually heard that voice. We know that Jesus heard it. John either heard it or was told by Jesus about it, but it is a matter of record that Jesus Christ received honor from the Father. Another incident in which He did was in Luke, chapter 9. Mark records it on the Mount of Transfiguration. You will remember that Jesus took Peter, James and John up on the mountain with Him, and there they were allowed to see His glorified body. Peter said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Peter is the master of understatement. I'm sure it was good to be there and see Jesus in His glorified body. He said, “Let's build three tabernacles [tents]—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

Apparently, Peter, James and John would have just slept on the ground. “Let's just stay here,” He said. If you remember the passage that we have talked about before, the voice of God interrupted Peter and said, “This is My beloved Son; hear Him.” Jesus had received honor from the Father in one case which specified that there were eyewitnesses, and years later, those men all each wrote about having been eyewitnesses of His majesty. It was something that they were still claiming years later, even after persecution and after time might have caused them to drop something that they had just made up. Jesus' honor came from the Father. He wasn't making it up.

Simplicity of Jesus' Argument

That is the first part of His argument—the source of His honor. The second part of His argument is as to its simplicity. Look at verse 55. He says:

John 8

55Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.

Think about Jesus' situation here. Here were these Jewish leaders and they were saying, “Abraham is our father. Moses is our father. These are great godly men, and you say that you are greater than they are.” There is a real sense in which it would have been a lot simpler for Jesus just to say that He was no greater than Abraham. They could have all gone home to lunch if He would have just admitted that. It would have been a simpler thing to say, but Jesus says here, in verse 55, “I can't say that for one simple reason; that is, it is not true. If I said that I was no greater than Abraham, I would be a liar like you. If I said that I don't know the Father, I would be a liar. The simple truth is,” Jesus says, “I am from God, and I am God.”

Spiritual Sight

The third part of the argument is the one that puts it all in perspective, and that is as to spiritual sight in verse 56. Notice the verse:

John 8

56Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

This must have really blown the Jewish leaders away. Abraham saw this Jewish carpenter? The Scripture doesn't record a specific incident in which Abraham saw this, but Jesus understood because He was God, and the Holy Spirit inspired John to write that Abraham understood all that was involved in the Messiah, the Savior, coming some day. He may or may not have known that his name would be Jesus. In the progressive revelation of God, we don't know exactly how much Abraham knew about the Messiah, but he knew that a Savior was coming. He knew that that day in which Jesus was living was going to come some day. He rejoiced in that. He looked forward to salvation just like we look back on it. He looked forward to it by faith, just as we look back on it by faith, and he rejoiced in his salvation like we rejoice in our salvation.

Probably through all of his experiences put together, Abraham came to that understanding. Little by little, God caused him to understand the truth by guiding him step by step, day by day. The birth of Isaac, born to a man and a woman who were both too old to have children—surely that communicated part of God's truth to Abraham about the miraculous power and the promise He had made originally to Adam and Eve all those thousands of years before Abraham's time that someday there would be a Redeemer Who would redeem Adam and Eve from their sins. The birth of Isaac was another miraculous step in that direction.

Many Bible scholars think that the sacrifice of Isaac, where Abraham took Isaac and laid him on an altar and was ready to plunge the knife into his chest, and God stopped him and provided a ram caught in the thicket close to the altar that Abraham had built, was the point when Abraham understood Jesus' day. When God provided the sacrifice in Isaac's place, many scholars believe Abraham understood and rejoiced in Jesus' day. Whatever it was, the truth is that Abraham understood what these Jewish leaders did not understand—that a Redeemer would come some day and would provide the sacrifice for us that we cannot provide for ourselves.

A Clear Statement of Jesus' Claim

In verses 57-58, we see the Jew's astonishment. They just don't get it. They don't understand what Jesus is talking about. But it is because they were not willing to try to understand it. Verse 58 makes an absolutely clear statement of Jesus' claim to be God. He made other indirect claims, but here He says:

John 8

58…Before Abraham was, I am.

The term I Am , of course, is one of the most important names of God. It is the term that God assigned for Moses to use. In Exodus, chapter 3, God had been speaking to Moses and telling him that he was going to go and be God's representative to lead the people out of their slavery in Egypt. Moses was so much like us. It is interesting to read that chapter. All through that chapter it says, “God said, and God said, and God said, and God said.” Then Moses, just like you and me, said, “But God, what will they say?”

You know, we have God speaking to us through His Word any time that we will take the time to sit down and hear what He has to say. Moses had the physical, audible voice of God speaking to him. Moses was not so impressed by the voice of God speaking to him, and he was worried about what men were going to say. Aren't we just like that? God makes it completely clear to us what He wants us to do, the principles that He wants us to live by, the attitudes that He wants us to have, and we are worried about what men will say.

It is out of that context that God said to Moses, “Tell them that I Am has sent you unto them.” Of course, He meant by that, the God Who always was, Who is now and always will be. God lives in the eternal present to the extent that He refers to Himself as I Am . In fact, it is interesting to notice that there in Exodus, He says, “I Am the God of your fathers. I Am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” He didn't say, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” He said to Moses, all those years after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “I Am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Listen! This God to whom we have prayed today and to whom, hopefully, you have prayed during the course of this day, this God about whom we have been singing in our service, this God whom we claim to know as our Father, is just as much alive and active this moment as He was when Jesus was saying these things to these leaders and when God the Father was speaking to Moses and to Adam and Eve. God is the I Am God. That is the God with whom we have to do. That is a thrilling thing, isn't it? The name of God, I Am, is the most thrilling name that He has, in my opinion.

Jesus was going to use this term again at His trial, in Mark, chapter 14, and the high priest reacted violently against that. That shows that they understood the significance of that name: I Am . It shows that they understood exactly what Jesus was saying. The silly liberals say that Jesus never claimed to be God. They just must not read their Bibles, because Jesus used the term I Am , and it brought about a violent reaction when He did it in front of the high priest.

Look at the reaction it brings here. The reaction of these Jewish leaders, in verse 59, provides Jesus' authentication. Look at verse 59:

John 8

59Then took they up stones to cast at him…

Do you think they didn't understand what He was saying? Do you think that He wasn't claiming to be God? The penalty for blasphemy was stoning. These men were doing what the law told them to do, except that He wasn't blaspheming. They were unwilling to admit that He wasn't. They were insisting to themselves that He was blaspheming. They understood what He was saying. There was no question that Jesus called Himself God, and their very reaction authenticates that.

The Light Exits

Look at the last part of verse 59. This is where I get the name for this section of the chapter—The Exit of the Light . Notice the second line of verse 59:

John 8

59…but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Jesus simply left them. Here is the miraculous again. As they were picking up their stones, He simply vanished and got out of their way. It wasn't that He was able to sneakily weave His way through the crowd like a good running back; the idea is that He was just gone. He just vanished.

The same thing happened back in chapter 7, verse 30. It says:

John 7

30Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him…

His Hour Had Not Yet Come

John, chapter 7, verse 30, is a valuable verse because it says why it happened. Here, in chapter 8, he doesn't say why; he just says that it did. Chapter 7, verse 30, explains why it happened, though it doesn't explain how. It says:

John 7

30Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

This is another reason that verse 59 provides the authentication of Jesus' ministry. God the Father delivered God the Son from a premature death, because His hour was not yet come.

That is a wonderful thought, too, even though it is a simple, little phrase, “His hour was not yet come.” Even such a detail as the timing of the death of Christ is extremely important. I referred to this in passing a while ago, but think about the timing of the death of Christ. Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 4, tells us that it was planned before the foundation of the world. One Bible teacher years ago called it the eternal life convention . God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit had a meeting, and they decided what they would do in advance when the human race sinned. They decided exactly how they would provide eternal life for sinful human beings before the world was even created.

The provision of the death of Christ in our behalf was not a knee-jerk reaction in that when humans began to sin, God said, “Oh my, what will we do now?” God knew exactly what He was going to do, and God planned it out step by step so that, as Paul wrote, “In the fullness of time, at the exactly right time, Christ was born of a virgin, born into the world, born under sin—not sinful, but under sin in a sinful world. Then, all through Jesus' earthly life, Satan was anxious to kill Him, because Satan understands the Gospel. The demons believe and tremble, and the last thing that Satan wanted was for Jesus to die on the Cross. Satan thought that if he could kill Jesus and do away with Him before the Cross, he would win.

You see, Satan was the one who lost at the Cross. God had to protect and provide for Jesus Christ, as a human being, to keep Him alive until He died at exactly the right time. If Jesus had been killed prematurely, it wouldn't have been the sacrifice for our sins, because all of the prophecies pointed to the fact that He would die as a criminal on a cross. God knew exactly how and when it was going to take place, and God provided even in the timing of our salvation. Isn't that a wonderful thing to be thankful for?

When you are making your list of things to thank God for, thank Him that in John, chapter 7, Jesus passed by and went out from them, and no one laid a hand on Him. The same thing happened again in John, chapter 8. It is going to happen again a couple of times that are recorded. It may have happened other times, but wasn't recorded before the death of Christ comes in the narrative that we are studying. God protected Him, so that you and I could have salvation, even seeing to it that He died in the right way, in the right place, and at the right time. That is how much God loves you and me—that He provided our salvation even down to those tiny degrees, planned, provided before the foundation of the world, brought into action at exactly the right time. So, the fact that He was able to escape from them, in verse 59, provides Jesus' authentication.

Conclusion

Our God is a great God. He is a God of light. He is a God of truth, and He is a God of timing. Thank God for His provision, even down to those minute details.


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