Starting a conversation about spiritual beliefs with a couple of women at King’s Lynn town centre. I soon came to find out about the Christadelphian faith which I had zero knowledge about. They viewed scripture as God’s word and Jesus as just a man submitted to God. Jane and I discussed several scriptures with both women which unfortunately appeared to fall short of convincing them toward reconsidering their opinion of Jesus’s identity. They believed in salvation through Jesus but not in Jesus as God, which is baffling when considering much of what New Testament scripture tells us of Jesus.
Today’s scripture is one of those chapters in the bible that shines a bright spotlight on Jesus’s identity. We read the back and forth dialogue between Jesus and the pharisees, who are trying their best to catch him out as he teaches the crowd who’ve poured into the temple at the Mount of Olives to listen to him teach. Jesus shares several gobsmacking revelations about himself:
“I am the light of the world” (v12)
The significance of this phrase can be gleaned from John 1:4, which defines the light of Christ as life: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus is the light that not only shows the way to salvation, but that is our salvation. We see this trumpeted in John 5:26 where Jesus reveals that he possesses life just as the Father does and he gives it to those who follow him.
“The Son (of God)”
Jesus declares all authority when he describes himself as “the Son” and states “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” The logic here is that whoever Jesus sets free, is free and no one and nothing else can offset that person as free! Jesus having full authority over life has in effect full authority over freedom, which we all crave for! But what is this freedom that Jesus speaks of? Firstly, as bible teacher Clarence Haynes points out, there are things Christ has freed believers from:
- The bondage of sin (Your captivity) – for someone to be liberated they must have first been imprisoned or bound. The bible tells us that we’ve all been held captive by the impulses and instincts of the sinful nature that we’ve inherited from birth. However, Jesus has broken the power of sin over us through his finished work on the cross. As a believer you are free from your old sinful nature and now possess a righteous nature that pulls you towards Christ-likeness.
- The guilt and shame of sin (Your vitality) – Sin produces all sorts of negatives including guilt and shame. However, through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we have full forgiveness for every sin. Our sins shall be remembered no more by God, and therefore we are free from guilt and shame. We are seen as righteous by God. We simply have to appropriate this by believing it and enjoying the vitality that comes from this new reality.
- The penalty of sin (Your eternity) – as we’ve all sinned, we all have faced the penalty or consequence of sin which is death (Roman’s 6:23). However, the bible states that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Our death sentence was taken by Jesus on the cross and he gifts every believer his “life sentence” – we have eternal life (forever freedom from the penalty of sin).
Secondly, there are things Christ has freed you to.
- Freedom to live (Your capacity) – through Jesus’s eternal life given to us we have God in us by way of the gift of the Holy Spirit who enables us to live life at an abundant capacity. We’re able to experience and reflect the characteristics of God such as love, joy, peace and goodness.
- Freedom to serve (Your Activity) – We read in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Another reason Christ has freed you as a believer is because he has work for you to do. He has a good plan for your life and through the power of God’s transformative word and the Holy Spirit you are able to do every good work he has for you.
The “I AM” (v58)
In responding to the Pharisees’ question “Who do you think you are?” Jesus said,
“…Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am”“(v58). Here Jesus reveals himself as God in human flesh as he clearly equates himself with the “I AM” title God gave himself in Exodus 3:14. We see that the pharisees understood what he meant by this through their aggressive response, “ they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (v59). Of course in that era of the Mosaic law to equate oneself with God was rendered blasphemy and this was punishable by death. However, Jesus being God in human flesh committed no sin in saying so.
So the next time you bump into a Christadelphian, JW or mormon etcetera you can celebrate through John 8 that Christ is the Great I AM who created existence, the Son of God who gives light and life to the world, and whom all who believe will enjoy forever, hallelujah!