It was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus stood in the middle of a crowd at the temple in Jerusalem in front of the giant torches that were used to light the entire city. He declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 NIV
His bold claim provoked three responses from those who heard him. The first response was to challenge Jesus. The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid” John 8:13. According to the Law of Moses, there must be two witnesses to make a legal claim so the Jews tried to trap Jesus with a technical foul. The Pharisees wanted to point Jesus to the law, but he said that His heavenly father testifies on his behalf. He was sent to fulfill the prophecies because he is the Messiah. It is wildly popular to question Jesus' claim to deity. Books have been written to dispute his existence, his authority, his miracles, and his perfect life. Yet even in spite of all the attacks and all the interrogations and investigations, God’s word stands true.
The second response was to argue against Jesus' claim. Jesus claimed that God is His father. The Jews claimed Moses as their father. They were looking at their physical blood line and Jesus is talking on a spiritual level. So they accused Jesus of being demon possessed. “52 At this they exclaimed, 'Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?' ”
People still want to argue against Jesus today. Many want Jesus out of public schools and off public property. They want him off courthouses even though our entire legal system is based on Judaeo-Christian ethics. People are still trying to kill Jesus and twist every truth he taught. I have never met a happy atheist. I’m sure there are some out there, but every atheist I have ever met is angry at a god they don’t even believe in.
The third response was to draw closer to Him because of his claim. “30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him” John 8:30. Today people still respond by challenging Jesus, arguing with him or drawing closer to him. From experience, I can tell you that drawing closer to Christ is far more pleasurable than fighting against him or challenging him. Nobody has ever fought God and won, and this isn’t bad because God knows what’s best for us and he wants us to prosper in the biblical sense.
“31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:31-32.
If you want to experience true freedom, come to Christ. He is the light of the world providing freedom from legalism, shame, and guilt. He offers hope and healing from darkness and despair.