Here it is—the end of the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast focused the attention of God’s people on God’s works: past and future. The prophetic message is that there is shelter (in the tabernacle of God) under the wings of the Shekinah glory. The temple was lit up with brilliant candelabra, commemorating how God guided his people during the Exodus with a cloud by day and first by night. It is in this context, with lights all around representing God’s presence, that Jesus calls out to the crowds: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” It’s a clear declaration of deity. He is God’s light. He is the “pillar” the people should follow. He is the Divine Presence.
As might be expected, the Pharisees challenge him. “You can’t testify to your own deity. Anybody could claim that.” Jesus has come up against a brick wall—an immoveable force.
Jesus replied, “Of course I can. I am who I am. The law says that when two people concur in honest testimony, it legally establishes the truth of the matter. Well, both God and myself say that I’m divine, and that testimony actually carries more weight than any human testimony could.”
The Pharisees keep pressing. “Where is your father?”
Jesus said, “If you had a clue, that would be a no-brainer.”
The exchange is over for the time being, but the next day it begins again. Jesus said, “I’m going away,” referring to his upcoming crucifixion. “One day you also will die, and then it will be too late for you to turn to me.”
The people didn’t understand, but Jesus kept trying: “You are human; I am divine. If you don’t believe in me, and follow me, you are doomed to die in your sins.”
The people didn’t understand. “Who are you?” they asked.
“I’ve been telling you all along,” said Jesus. “If you don’t understand, you have only yourself to blame. I have been forthright about who I am.”
They didn’t understand. Jesus kept trying: “When I am crucified, then you will understand that I am God as I claim to be, and the Father will again testify to you that I am who I say I am.”
Many believed in him, and many didn’t. Every person has the information they need to make a reasoned choice.