The controversy of John chapter seven now becomes more focused and formalized in chapter eight. Jesus’ claims concerning his identity are now joined with warnings of the consequences of unbelief. Specifically, Jesus warns that all who do not believe that he who he claimed to be will be condemned to hell. It was a message as unpopular then as it is today. In addition, the whole scene takes on the feel of a courtroom drama with charges being brought against Jesus and Jesus naming himself and his Heavenly Father as witnesses against his sinful opponents. Here we see themes of accusation, interrogation, and judgment. And in the process Jesus, once again, declares who he is in the presence of many witnesses.
There is a darkness that hangs over chapter seven as the religious leaders of Judah continue to plot Jesus’ death. That darkness continues in chapter eight as the conflict heightens and the sin of the human heart is exposed. Here Jesus instructs no only on the nature of his divine essence but about his mission to save sinners from hell.
Within this passage Jesus makes another one of his great “I Am” statements. Specifically he declares, “I am the light of the world” (vs. 12). This harkens back to the prologue when John writes of Jesus: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:4-5). Jesus is the everlasting Judge of all creation. But he is also the Redeemer who will be “lifted up” for the sake of sinners. Indeed, the darkness of the wickedness perpetrated against Jesus in the crucifixion will become the very means by which God will shine the brilliant light of his saving grace.