We looked last week at the familiar story of the woman caught in adultery in the beginning verses of John chapter 8. We talked about the fact that that story does not appear in the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament. This story is missing from all the Greek manuscripts of John before the fifth century. Most New Testament scholars do not think it was part of the Gospel of John when it was first written, but was added centuries later.
I personally believe that this event happened in the life of Yeshua and was passed down orally from person to person to person, and eventually, someone decided that the story ought to find its way into the New Testament, even though it wasn't in the original.
So let's go alone with the majority of New Testament scholars and assume that when Lazarus wrote this Gospel he did not include the material of 7:53-8:11. Let's say that this story wasn't originally in this Gospel and take the brackets at face value so that after verse 52 of chapter 7 we jump to verse 12 of chapter 8. That's what we're going to do this morning.
They answered him, "You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee." John 7:52 NASB
Then Yeshua again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." John 8:12 NASB
Who is the "them" that Yeshua spoke to again?
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. John 7:37 NASB
"Then Yeshua again spoke to them, saying"—I think the "them" is the crowd in the Temple on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. He has just said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink." Then in verses 40-44 there is a discussion among the crowd and then some exchanges in the Sanhedrin in 7:45-52 then 8:12 follows nicely from 7:37-39. So now He says to the same crowd, "I am the Light of the world"—it's the same day (verse 53 "everyone went to his home" is not part of the text) and the context here is the Feast of Tabernacles.
Let me give you some information about this feast to set the context for our text.
The Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated for a week in the fall from Tishri 15-22, five days after the Feast of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The Feast of Tabernacles was the most joyous and the longest of the festivals, and was also considered to be the greatest of the feasts. It was designated by Yahweh as one of the three pilgrim feasts in which all men of the Covenant nation Israel must appear before Him at His holy Sanctuary in Jerusalem (Exodus 23:14, 15, 17; 34:18-23). The actual feast lasted 7 days with a Sacred Assembly on the 8th day (Leviticus 23:34-36). Each day of the feast sacrifices and offerings were made to Yahweh on His altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. (see Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 12-38) By the end of the 7-day feast, 70 bulls had been offered to Yahweh in sacrifice. Do you remember why that is significant?
The Feast of Tabernacles, not only looked backward to the Exodus experience and God's Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant that guided the children of Israel through the desert wilderness to the Promise Land, but the feast also reminded Israel of her mission to the nations of the world. This is the reason 70 bulls were sacrificed during the feast, one bull for each of the 70 nations which originally composed the nations of the world before the tower of Babel when Yahweh turned these nations over to lesser gods and called Israel to be His people.
At the formation of the covenant at Sinai, Israel had been set apart as God's holy nation to be a witness of the One True God to the other nations of the earth. That is why the Temple in Jerusalem was built with a special court for the Gentiles to allow them a place to come to be instructed in the holy Covenant, and as a place for the Gentiles to pray to the God of Israel who was the "light" of the world.
It was during the Feast of Tabernacles that Solomon dedicated the newly built Temple to Yahweh. At that ancient observance of Tabernacles, the Shekinah glory of Yahweh descended from Heaven to light the fire on the altar and fill the Holy of Holies.
These are all things that we learn about this feast from the Scripture. Beyond that the Mishnah [oral tradition of the Jews] indicates that during the intertestamental period two other major rituals were added to the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. There was a procession with a pitcher of water up to the altar where the water was poured out. We looked at this in John 7. There was also a special ceremony involving the lighting of the Court of the Women.
Both "light" and "water" played an important part in the symbolism of this feast. "Light" recalled the light of the Glory Cloud as Yahweh led Israel through the wilderness—the Pillar of Fire. It was the light of the presence of God, the Shekinah in Hebrew, which made the cloud shine with light. "Light" was a symbol of His presence and in the Temple. In the Tabernacle Yahweh commanded that the light of the golden Menorah [candelabra] be kept burning continuously as a sign of His presence. (Leviticus 24:1-4)
In the center of the court of the Women stood four towering menorahs [7-branched lamps that stood on bases that were 50 feet tall]. According to the Mishnah, The flames of the Menorahs were holy fire that burned from wicks made from the worn out fabric of the priestly garments. (Mishnah, Sukkos 5.2-4) Each menorah had four long ladders leading up to the lamps, which were periodically refilled by young priests carrying large pitchers of olive oil. The Feast of Tabernacles began in the middle of the lunar month, when the harvest moon was full and the autumn sky was clear. The outline of the surrounding Judean hills was clearly visible in the moonlight. Against this backdrop, the light of the Temple celebration was breathtaking. All night long the elders of the Sanhedrin performed impressive torch dances, while the steady yellow flames of the menorah oil lamps flooded the Temple and the streets of Jerusalem with brilliant light.
Soon after the celebration was underway, a group of Levites gathered in the Inner Court in what was known as the "Court of the Israelites." Once formed, the group of Levites moved through the Nicanor Gate to stand at the top of the 15 steps leading down to the Court of the Women. The sound of Temple flutes, trumpets, harps, and other stringed instruments played as the Levites sang the 15 Psalms of Degrees [Psalms 120-134]. With each new Psalm they descended to the next step.
This celebration was repeated every night from the second night until the final night as a prelude to the water drawing the next morning. Nothing in ancient Israel compared to this light celebration. It was so spectacular that the ancient rabbis said, "He that hath not beheld the joy of the drawing of the water [the Simchet Bet Hasho'ayva celebration] hath never seen joy in his life. (Sukkah 5:1) The light celebration was reminiscent of the descent of the Shekinah glory in Solomon's day, and looked forward to the return of the glory of Yahweh.
Scholars do not agree if the "Fire Ceremony" took place the night after the final "Water Libation Ceremony" of the 7th day of the Feast or the night before. The day began at sundown for the Jews, and so it is unclear if the Feast began with the "Fire [or Torch] Ceremony and ended with the 'Water Libation Ceremony,' or if it began with the 'Water Libation Ceremony' and that night of the Great Hoshanna marked the last 'Fire Ceremony.'"
What we do know is that on the last night of the fire ceremony, whenever it was, all the Scripture readings are about "the light" and the people are once again reminded of God's presence as He faithfully led them through the wilderness enthroned in the great Pillar of Fire and His promise to them in:
'Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. Leviticus 26:11 NASB
The people looked forward to the time when the true "Light," the promised Messiah, the anointed of God, would bring an end to their suffering and restore Israel, God's holy covenant people, to reflect His light into every nation of the earth!
On the last night light will come from only 3 of the 4 great 7 branched Menorahs. This was to be a reminder to the people that Israel had not yet experienced full salvation, and God's light had not yet spread to all the nations of the world as the prophets had promised. (Mishnah Sukkos 5.2-4) But it was understood that when the Messiah came God's holy light would reach every corner of the earth. According to tradition "Light" was one of the names of the long awaited Messiah:
"Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. Isaiah 42:1 NASB
"I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, Isaiah 42:6 NASB
So we notice that He's to be a covenant for the people, the people of Israe,l and a light for the Gentiles, that is for the nation and for the nations. The Servant of Yahweh, the Messiah was to be a light to the nations:
He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Isaiah 49:6 NASB
Here we see that light is something that is specifically said to represent the Messianic ministry, not simply to Israel, but to the Gentiles, to the ends of the earth
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. "Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3 NASB
The events of the last night of the Fire Ceremony in the Temple recall the manifestation of God's physical presence with them as He led them in the Pillar of Fire through the wilderness.
So in our text Yeshua is in the Temple in the Court of the Women with these huge Menorahs and He cries out:
Then Yeshua again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." John 8:12 NASB
"Then Yeshua again spoke to them"—He was speaking to the Jews who had assembled there for this great feast, some of whom were residents of Jerusalem, and others, pilgrims from other parts of Palestine and the world.
"I am the Light of the world"—in light of all we have said about this feast and the great light ceremony, the Pharisees didn't question the meaning of His statement. They knew it was a messianic claim, for they immediately called Him a liar. They were familiar with the many titles in Scripture which ascribed LIGHT to the Messiah. He is called the "Star out of Jacob," the "light of Israel," the "light of the nations [Gentiles]," a "refiner's fire," a "burning lamp," and the "Sun of righteousness."
According to the idioms and symbols understood and practiced by the writers of the New Testament, the symbol of light spoke of the Menorah in the Temple. The Menorah, which is one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith, is a seven-branched candelabrum used in the Temple. It has been said that the Menorah is a symbol of the nation of Israel and their mission to be "a light unto the nations."
Let's look at the word "Menorah" in the ancient Hebrew. The first letter is the "Mem," depicted as a series of waves on the sea, which can suggest the various potential meanings of chaos, mighty, blood, or simply water or waves. In this instance, we'll choose "mighty," and the reason will be apparent in a moment.
The second letter is the "nun," which is a picture of a seed. This letter can mean: "either continue, heir, or son," since all of these come from a man's seed. Or, it can simply mean: "seed." But we'll choose "son" in this instance.
The third letter is a "resh," which resembles a man's head. This letter can mean: "first, top, or beginning," since in the ancient world a man was the first or top of his household. In this case the meaning of "first" fits our purposes best.
The last letter is the "hey," which is a picture of a man trying to get your attention. This letter has the alternate meanings of: "look, reveal, or breathe," but can also mean: "praise or behold," depending on how and where it is used. But here we'll choose "reveal."
So the Menorah in the Hebrew pictographs means: "The Mighty Son First Revealed." The Temple Menorah had seven candles with seven flames, and we know that these flames were to remain lit at all times. This menorah was intended to represent the seven Feasts of Yahweh. So we see the symbolism that refers to Yeshua the Christ, since the two advents of Yeshua fulfill all of these festivals in their entirety. So Yeshua was first revealed by the symbolism behind this Menorah.
If we look at the name "Yeshua"' in the Hebrew letters, we see additional Menorah symbolism is revealed: Notice how the Lord's name has seven flames on top of the letters, just as the Menorah was always to have seven flames burning on top of it. Hebrew letters are somewhat unique in this manner, in that several of them have this flourish at the top that looks like a flame. But the name Yeshua is one of the few words in Hebrew that would exhibit this effect.
So Yeshua is making a direct claim to be the Messiah, and they knew it. They were very familiar with the Messianic promises that came through the Prophet Isaiah, that we just looked at, where Messiah is called the "Savant of Yahweh." But look with me at a passage in Isaiah that we didn't look at that I think as special significance:
But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. Isaiah 9:1-2 NASB
Here the prophet has given us a picture of the ministry of the Messiah as beginning in Galilee of the Gentiles, and that this light is a great light. Now the Lord Yeshua came from Galilee and He is the One who fulfilled that prophecy, He is the Light. And Matthew writes in Matthew chapter 4:
Now when Yeshua heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: Matthew 4:12-14 NASB
Then he quotes Isaiah 9:1-2. Yeshua is the fulfillment of Isaiah 9, He is the great Light who comes from Galilee. Remember what the Pharisees said at the end of chapter 7:
They answered him, "You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee." John 7:52 NASB
The Messiah, the Light comes from Galilee.
The "Light Metaphor" was ancient in Israel's history. The Jews associated light with God's presence. This statement, like those Yeshua made in preceding chapters, is rich with Exodus imagery. Yeshua said in chapter 6 He was the manna on which the children of Israel fed as they went through the wilderness. He said in chapter 7 that He was the rock, which Moses smote and out of which came rivers of living water. And now in chapter 8 He is saying that He is the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud by which the children of Israel were guided through the wilderness.
Let's look at Exodus chapter 13, the context of this chapter is the children of Israel's deliverance from the land of Egypt. And one of the ways in which God gave them direction was by means of the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire:
The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. Exodus 13:21-22 NASB
As the children of Israel make their way out to the Red Sea with the Egyptians following after them we read:
The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night. Exodus 14:19-20 NASB
The angel of God moved himself from the head of the company to the rear of the company and the Egyptians were not able to penetrate. The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire abode over the Israelites, and they had light. The Egyptians had utter darkness.
Then in Numbers chapter 9 Moses gives some instruction to the children of Israel concerning guidance by the pillar of cloud and fire:
Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. Numbers 9:15-17 NASB
When Yeshua said, "I am the light of the world." "I am the fulfillment. I'm the antitype" of all that was signified by the Pillar of Cloud and the Pillar of Fire. In the Exodus experience, the themes of Yahweh enthroned on the Pillar of Fire guiding the way for the children of Old Covenant Israel to travel through the "darkness" of the wilderness toward the "light" of the Promise Land prefigures Christ lighting the way for the New Covenant children of God journeying through life to the true Promise Land of salvation and Heaven.
The Psalms speak of Yahweh as the "Light of Life" and "the Light that gives Life" in Psalms like 56:13, which contrast life and light with death and darkness and in Psalms 27:1: "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear?" Psalms 119:105 describes the Law of Yahweh as "a light for our path" whereas "the absence of the Law brings darkness."
So as I said, the Jews associated light with God's presence and Yeshua intensified this by saying, "I AM the Light"—Yeshua is here identifying Himself with the significant words: "I AM," ego ami, which reminds us of Yahweh's revelation of Himself to Moses 3 times as "I AM" in Exodus 3:13-14. In John's Gospel Yeshua will use these words 26 times and in 7 different metaphors; each metaphor used with a predicate nominative.
Yeshua has already said, "I am the bread of life," and when He was walking on the water and came to the ship, and they were afraid, He said to them, "I am, so be not afraid." The Lord Yeshua claims to be the "I Am" of the Tanakh, the One who is the beginning and the end, the One who is the first and the last, the One who is the Alef and the Tav, I am He. So when men heard the Lord Yeshua say, "I Am," they couldn't help but reflect that this person is making claims for deity.
"Light" is one of the three things which God is said to be. In John 4:24 we are told, "God is spirit." In 1 John 1:5, "God is light"; and in 1 John 4:8, "God is love." Hence, when Christ said, "I am the light of the world," He announced His absolute Deity. By using the
tetragrammaton, the "I am", and by claiming to be light.
In Matthew's Gospel the disciples are told "You are the light of the world." Paul also speaks of Christians as "lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15). This is not a contradiction because the disciples, like John the Baptist, are the light of the world only as they reflect Yeshua the Christ, the true Light.
"I am the light of the world"—not a light, but the light. The definite article is very important. "World" here is kosmos, which Lazarus uses 78 times in this Gospel, in contrast to the other three evangelists who used it a total of only 15 times, indicating Lazarus' global perspective and interest. Yeshua's being "the Light of the world" means the world has no other light than Him. If there is going to be a Light for the world, it will be Yeshua. It is Yeshua or darkness. He is the Light for both Jews and Gentiles.
Yeshua goes on to say, "He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life"—the Greek verb for "follow" is a present tense, indicating a continuous action. What does it mean to follow Him? Well our Lord answers that question for us in:
"I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. John 12:46 NASB
"He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness"—so He lets us know that to follow Him is to believe in Him, to believe in Him is to follow Him.
"But will have the Light of life"—this is the light that produces life.
Israel's possession of the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night mark them out as the people of God. The Egyptians didn't have that. Israel had Yahweh with them, and they had Yahweh with them as their guide. The thing that marks out one man from another today is the presence of God the Holy Spirit who has united believers with Yeshua, and they are marked out from the whole of the world as the people of God.
Just as Yahweh lead and guided the children of Israel by the pillar of fire so today He leads and guides all believers by His Holy Spirit. Paul said in Romans chapter 8:
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:14 NASB
This is the possession of every believer, the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Now often we don't follow Him, but He guides. Every believer has the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that's the mark of a Son of God.
So when Yeshua said, "I am the Light of the world" He was saying that He is the source of life, and He also means that He is the guide of life. Light essential for life, and light essential for the preservation and continuation of life.
If any of the members of religious community at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scroll were discovered, had heard Yeshua, they would have responded to His message with enthusiasm. It was this kind of language that filled their community letters and religious treatises. They described themselves as the "Sons of Light" and their hearts as having been "illumined with the wisdom of life" [1QSII, 3]; while they regarded the Temple priests as illegitimate "sons of darkness." They also looked upon their interpretation of the Mosaic Law as the "light of life' [1QSIII, 7]. The spirit of God which guided their lives was "the prince of lights" [among other titles] while the evil one who fights against them is called "the angel of darkness" [QSIII 20-21,] and it was their teaching that men walk according to either one or the other of these images of "light" or "darkness".
There are so many similarities in vocabulary and concept between Lazarus' writings and the sectarian documents found at Qumran that some scholars believe the author of John was in some way associated with their community.
Very different from the views of Qumran were the views of the Pharisees as we see in the following verses. Almost as suddenly as the theme of Yeshua as Light was introduced in verse 12, it is dropped in verse 13. Verses 13-20 return to a set of arguments very similar to those found in John 5:30-47. The remainder of chapter 8 shifts from the light/darkness imagery in this verse [resumed in chapter 9] to questions over Yeshua's authority:
So the Pharisees said to Him, "You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true." John 8:13 NASB
Notice that the Pharisees don't ask, "What do you mean by using the tetragrammaton and saying that YOU are the Light of the world? What are you saying? Are you claiming to be God? Are you claiming to be the Messiah?" They don't ask a single question. And let me tell you something, Bereans ask questions.
The Pharisees challenge Yeshua, they bring up His own words from 5:31:
"If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. John 5:31 NASB
What He meant here is: If my testimony comes from myself, if it originates with me, if I am a witness to myself disconnected from the Father, I am false. Deuteronomy 19:15, talks about needing two or three witnesses. But that was written for people who are liars. That is written for men because we're all liars. We all live in a world of lies and deception. We've got to confirm things with several people hoping to get the truth. But that doesn't apply to God. Yeshua said:
Yeshua answered and said to them, "Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. John 8:14 NASB
Yeshua said, "Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true"—I'm not subject to those laws that are meant for a world of liars. I know where I came from, and I know where I'm going," and He's saying there, "I'm eternal. I'm transcendent." The law was made for man, not for God."
D. A. Carson puts it this way, "But in fact, the Pharisees have misunderstood Jesus' earlier utterance (cf. notes on 5:31). He was certainly not saying that if He spoke without supporting witness He was necessarily a liar, but that if He testified about Himself—i.e. outside the framework He had just established, in which everything He says is nothing more and nothing less than what the Father gives Him to say—then of course the kind of claims He was making could not possibly be true." [Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (pp. 337-346). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.]
The first qualification of a witness is that they must have personally experienced that of which they testify. The Jewish religious leaders spoke with great authority about things they never experienced. Yeshua claimed to offer "true testimony" because He knew His own origin and destiny. His critics knew neither of these things:
"You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. John 8:15 NASB
The Pharisees were evaluating Yeshua only by using the external facts about Him that they knew. Yeshua was "not judging" [Gr. krino] "anyone" superficially, as they were. He seems to be contrasting His true judging with the Pharisees' superficial judging.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:16, "I judge no man in the flesh." What did he mean by that? He meant, "I don't judge people superficially." Yeshua does not judge the way His opponents:
"But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me. John 8:16 NASB
His judgment would be in perfect accord with the Father who sent Him. At least seven times in this passage, Yeshua points to the fact that He is from the Father, and speaks on the authority of the Father, and is going to the Father, and does nothing on His own. He claims, in other words, that His authority is not owing to any human origin. It's owing to His relationship with God the Father.
"Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. John 8:17 NASB
Notice that He calls the Torah "your law". He does that because in Him the Law is being fulfilled and He is instituting the Law of the Spirit:
"I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me." John 8:18 NASB
No human witness can authenticate a divine relationship. Yeshua therefore appeals to the Father and Himself, and there is no other to whom He can appeal. He is saying, "Two reasons that my claim is valid. Number one, who I am, and number two, the testimony that my Father corroborates."
So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Yeshua answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also." John 8:19 NASB
D. A. Carson writes, "Not infrequently in John, Jesus says something profound only to have it misinterpreted by others. So here: Jesus has been explicating the unique relation He enjoys with His heavenly Father as He bears witness to the truth, and His opponents want the Father identified, apparently thinking on a purely human plane." [Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (pp. 337-346). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.]
"Where is Your Father?"—this was meant to be an attack on Yeshua. They may have been saying your father Joseph has been dead for some time. Are you claiming to talk to the dead. That is forbidden in the Law. Or they may have been accusing Yeshua of being an illegitimate child, as they do again later in this same chapter:
"You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God." John 8:41 NASB
No matter which way they are going with this, they are still thinking in physical terms.
"You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also"—this is a second class conditional sentence. It is often called "contrary to fact." "If you knew Me, which you do not, then you would know My Father, which you do not." They prided themselves on knowing God. They thought they knew God better than anyone. Yeshua tells them, "You don't know Him at all."
Back in chapter 5, He said similar words:
so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:23 NASB
Yeshua is telling them, "If I produced my Father, you wouldn't even know Him. You know why, because you don't know me. If you had known me, you would have known the Father. One knows the Father only as he knows the Son." There is no other way to the Father, except through the Son. Anyone who claims to know God, apart from Yeshua the Christ, does not know God, does not know the God of the Scriptures. The God of the Scriptures is only known through the Son.
The Lord later on will say, after Phillip asks Him, "Lord, show us the Father." He will turn to Phillip and say:
Yeshua said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? John 14:9 NASB
And then later on He will say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but through me." It's impossible to know God except through the Son.
The "Father" theme, and the corresponding question as to what paternity Yeshua and the Pharisees may legitimately claim, dominates the rest of the chapter.
These are explosive and dangerous claims that Yeshua is making about Himself and God. So Lazarus pauses to comment in verse 20, "How amazing it is that no one is stoning Him or arresting Him":
These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come. John 8:20 NASB
He spoke these words in the Treasury. The Treasury was located in the Court of the Women. This court carried this name not because it was appropriated only for the worship of women, but because they were not allowed to proceed further into the Temple precincts except for sacrificial purposes. This court covered a space of more than 200 square feet and was surrounded by a colonnade within which, and located against the wall, there were 13 trumpet shaped chests for collecting charitable contributions. This court was the most public part of the Temple.
"No one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come"—they are now so infuriated that again they want to seize Him to kill Him. But they can't. They tried three times in chapter 7 unsuccessfully. Yeshua is in charge of His own destiny. It is the Father's plan and man does not, and indeed cannot, control these events.
William Hendriksen, commenting on this passage, says, "Against the wall in the Court of Women stood thirteen trumpet-shaped chests in which the people deposited their gifts for various causes. Hence, taking the part for the whole, this court was sometimes called the Treasury. Here Jesus was teaching, in the immediate proximity of the hall in which the Sanhedrin held (or: used to hold) its sessions. And, though it is possible that this august body, so thoroughly hostile to Jesus, could almost hear the echo of His voice, no one arrested Him, because His hour had not yet arrived." [William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-1954), vol. 2, p. 44.]
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. Psalms 32:7 NASB
Psalm 32 tells us that, "Our times are in His hands." That's beautifully illustrated here. That's true of every believer. There is not a thing that can happen to the saints of God that is not within the sovereign will of our great God. Amen!