8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

13 Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.”

14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.

The Pharisees are always looking for an excuse to pick a fight with Jesus. They will take almost any line of attack to put him in the wrong. But their approach in response to Jesus’ statements in verse 12 is particularly odd.

Here they attack Jesus for “testifying” on his own behalf when he claims,

I am the light of the world.

But Jesus’ claim is not as startling or as exalted as it might at first appear. Had these Pharisees been listening more carefully, they might have heard Jesus on occasion turning to his disciples and saying,

You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)

The Greek words are identical, “I am the phos kosmou”; “You are the phos kosmou”. What Jesus is, his disciples are.

Not only have the Pharisees failed to see that the claim Jesus is making for himself is not nearly as shocking as they might have wanted to believe, but they have also completely missed the fact that, much more than bearing testimony to himself, Jesus is bearing testimony to those who are his followers,

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

This is a pointed criticism of the Pharisees who certainly are not following the light that is embodied in Jesus and are therefore walking “in darkness”.

Then Jesus increases the sting of his rebuke drawing an unfavourable comparison between himself and the Pharisees saying,

I knowbut you do not know.

The Pharisees were appointed by the community to be the ones who “know”. Jesus’ accusation here is a harsh criticism. There is a kind of knowing that Jesus knew about which the Pharisees have no idea. Jesus had an inner knowing, a confidence in his true identity. He knew where he came from and where he was going.

When our identity is uncertain and insecure, we always resort to position, status, external form, and power in an attempt to shore up the shaky edifice of our superficial identity. Jesus had no need for these futile strategies. No matter how much doubt was cast upon him, how much criticism was levelled or violence threatened against him, he was able to stand his ground and state the truth he knew.  He depended upon the affirmation or validation of no person and no human construct. This was the source of Jesus’ freedom. It came from within.

This kind of freedom is infuriating to those who depend for their identity upon external form.

Where do I locate the source of my identity?

What shaky identity supports do I spend my life seeking to shore up?