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LIFE OF OUR LORD ON EARTH,
IN THE WORDS OF THE EVANGELISTS.
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
St. John viii. 12.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
To take up the thread of the narrative we must go back to that early morning time when the Lord, after the night in Olivet, came again to the Temple, and spake again to the people who resorted to Him there. The Sun, we may well suppose, was now coming forth out of his chamber in the East, and beginning to enlighten again that world which had been for the time bereft of his presence. What significance would this lend to the Lord's language here! How cheering the announcement to those who had been walking in the dark, whether physical darkness or spiritual; to those who had been toiling during dark or dimly-lighted hours of the night, to provide bread for their families during the coming day, or plodding their dangerous and weary way through the dark narrow lanes of the old city after night-fall with their heavy burthens; to those who had been groping in the darkness of spiritual bondage with the yet heavier burthens which their
Scribes and Pharisees were wont to bind upon their shoulders! Our Lord in this figure gathers up, and applies to Himself, the substance of prophecy and of history concerning Him.2 He, the I am, is not only the Light, the Fountain and Source of light, the true, original, living light,3 the Light as distinct from all temporary or lesser lights deriving their brightness from Him,*—He is also the Light of the world. The blessings He brings were not to be confined to Jews, as they selfishly supposed. He is a light to lighten the Gentiles. From the region of eternal day He came to visit a world lying in a long night of darkness. Physical darkness consists in the absence of light, and spiritual darkness proceeds from the want of the presence of Christ. But if we only follow Him, walking in the light of His truth, we shall in due time be delivered from this darkness, and attain finally to the light of everlasting life. To the sons of light there is day even in the midst of night. When indeed is it not day with him to whom Christ is sun and day?
HE DEFENDS HIMSELF AGAINST THE PHARISEES.
St. John viii. 13-20.
The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment
1 "The sun itself is but the dark simulachrum, and light but the shadow of God."-Sir Thomas Browne.
2 St. Luke i. 78, 79; Is. ix. 2; Ix. 1-3; 2 Cor. iv. 6.
3 St. John i. 4.
St. John v. 35.
5 St. John i. 9; ix. 5.
1 St. John ii. 8.
7 Collect for St. John the Evangelist's Day. St. John xii. 35, 36; Ps. cxix. 105; Prov. vi. 23; Is. 1. 10. Cyprian de Orat. Dominica.
is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him, for his hour was not yet come.
Scarcely had the Lord begun His Sermon when He was rudely interrupted by the Pharisees, bringing up a former saying of His,' with which they supposed His present words to be inconsistent, and casting it in His teeth. But that former saying meant no more than that if He advanced such claims without proper proofs to substantiate them, they would be justified in withholding credit. Calmly the Lord replies to them, unreasonable as their objection was. He admits that He bears witness concerning Himself; for there were things which but for this they could not know. How could they tell His past or His future if He, who alone knew, were silent on the subject ?2 And then He proceeds to show how these statements of His concerning Himself are substantiated by external testimony; first reproving them for their carnal manner of judgment; for judging, as they did, according to the appearance; pronouncing against His claims because He was clothed with humility, and disdained human honour, and declined to put Himself forward as a judge among men.3 Yet when the Lord did judge, on those occasions when He pronounced any statement, what He said must, even according to their own laws of evidence, be admitted as true, being witnessed not by Himself alone, but by the Father who sent Him." At this mention of the Father, they proceed in their accustomed strain. Again they seem to be asking, "Is not this the Carpenter's son?"
Still they seem to be
3 Vv. 6, 11, above.
Note again the "I am" of v. 18. 5 St. John v. 37.
St. Matt. xiii. 55; St. John vi.