Reflection Questions: The Divine Seconder (John 8.12-20)
by Pastor Gene
- In John 8:13, the Pharisees accused Jesus of “bearing witness” about Himself. Therefore, they argued, His testimony was not valid. The Law of Moses forbad receiving the testimony of only one witness (Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15). But in Jesus’ case, self-testimony was really the only option, for who else could know the things about which He was speaking? C.H. Dodd explained this using the concept of ‘light’: “while all other things are seen and known by means of light, light is known by itself alone.”1 He’s saying, ‘light reveals everything, but nothing but light can reveal light.’ This is a wonderful explanation of Jesus’ self-testimony, right? So, think of ‘light’ as the revealer of things. Consider these verses in the context of ‘light as the great revealer’ of things: John 1:9, 8:12, 12:35-36, Ephesians 5:13. What are these verses saying?
- In John 8:18, Jesus asserts that, actually, He is not bearing self-testimony; another witness is present: “I am the One who bears witness about Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness about Me.” So, the Second Witness was the Father Himself – but, if they couldn’t hear Jesus who was standing right in front of them, they certainly couldn’t hear the Father! This speaks to an important truth: all the religions and cults of the world seek to ‘know God,’ but Jesus is the only Revealer of the Father. Consider the following verses in view of the idea that the only way people can ‘know God’ is through Jesus: John 1:18, John 5:37, Acts 4:12, and 1 John 2:23. How does this help us to respond to the ‘truth claims’ of Islam, Buddhism, and the other religions of the world? How does it inform and prepare us for sharing our faith?
- From Jesus’ words here we see that the Father is always accrediting the words of Jesus. A number of times in John’s Gospel we see that when Jesus speaks, the Father speaks “a second word” as the great Divine ‘seconding witness.’ It’s the same with us too! As we share the Gospel of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, Another comes along with us – the ‘Divine Seconder,’ the Father Himself – who always bears witness to His Son. Jesus was telling the Pharisees things that could not be ‘proved’ by sight – and we do the same! We speak of invisible realities: a holy God offended by our sin, the Divine Creator and Architect of the universe who also became a Man and died as a Lamb, etc. There is no way we can prove these things; we can only say them. It is Jesus who is the Revealer of the Father, and the Father is the Revealer of the Son. WE know these things are true because Jesus has opened our eyes to see (Matthew 13:11) them and the Father, the ‘Divine Seconder,’ has affirmed them within us. Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:25-27 & Luke 10:21-24. How does this idea of Jesus as the only Revealer help us with our witnessing? How does it ’take the pressure off’ of us? As a result of this truth, who is glorified when we lead a soul to Jesus?
- Let’s think about the wonderful word ‘mystery.’ What’s wonderful about not having the answer to every question pertaining to our faith? Read these verses aloud and discuss them: Job 11:7, Ephesians 3:4-6, 5:31-32, 6:19, 1 Cor. 15:51-53, 1 Timothy 3:9, 3:16, Colossians 1:27, 2 Thess. 2:7-10. What’s the mystery they’re hinting at, as well as we’re able to understand them? How has the devil hurt believers by their unwillingness to accept ‘mystery’?
1 Dodd, Charles Harold, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (1953) ad loc.