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.’ 13Then the Pharisees said to him, ‘You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.’ 14Jesus 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. 15You judge by human standards;* I judge no one. 16Yet even if I do judge, my judgement is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father* who sent me. 17In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. 18I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.’ 19Then they said to him, ‘Where is your Father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ 20He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
Jesus has said “I am the bread of life”; now he says, “I am the light of the world.” He identifies himself with the Father, who gives food and light to the world, in these sayings, at one level, and with life in the Spirit, where he is that which nurtures and illuminates our souls when we are in relationship to him, at a second level. Light is a theme used frequently throughout John’s Gospel, “in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:3-5) That he proclaims himself “Light of the world” during the Feast of Tabernacles is not accidental, for during that feast lamps were lit in the temple representing the Light of God; Jesus is claiming to be the fulfillment of the joy of this feast. And he is the fulfillment of light in our souls and in our lives. Without him we are lost in the darkness of selfishness and sin.
But the religious leaders say that he cannot testify for himself. And he says that the Father testifies for him; and he testifies with the Father, which makes two valid witnesses. They are still on the wrong plane – thinking of a human father – while Jesus speaks of his heavenly Father. They ask where he is. And Jesus replies that they don’t even know the Father, which is ironic since their defensiveness and their attacks on Jesus, are purportedly aimed at maintaining the true worship of God, the Father. Do they seek to defend and support their “religion” at the cost of their relationship with God? Instead of seeing what God was doing among them? Do we at times fail to see God’s work among us?