Kids Talk About God
Chapter 39 cover: Jesus Follows His Father's Plan

Jesus Follows His Father’s Plan

John 8:12-20

Jesus Is the Light of the World

12 Later, Jesus talked to the people again. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never live in darkness. They will have the light that gives life.”
13 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “When you talk about yourself, you are the only one to say that these things are true. So we cannot accept what you say.”
14 Jesus answered, “Yes, I am saying these things about myself. But people can believe what I say, because I know where I came from. And I know where I am going. But you don’t know where I came from or where I am going. 15 You judge me the way people judge other people. I don’t judge anyone. 16 But if I judge, my judging is true, because when I judge I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. 17 Your own law says that when two witnesses say the same thing, you must accept what they say. 18 I am one of the witnesses who speaks about myself. And the Father who sent me is my other witness.”
19 The people asked, “Where is your father?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t know me or my Father. But if you knew me, you would know my Father too.” 20 Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the Temple area, near the room where the Temple offerings were kept. But no one arrested him, because the right time for him had not yet come.

How do we know Jesus came from heaven on a mission from his father?

“We know Jesus came from Heaven because of all the prophecies. People said in the Old Testament that God would send his Son who would rise from the dead, and Jesus matched all the prophecies. Jesus completed his mission by dying for us and saving us from our sins.” Iva, 11

“The Bible records the most important events in the universe, including Jesus dying on the cross. That was his mission.” Sophia, 9

“He was sent by God to die on the cross for our sins. But on the way leading up to that moment, he never sinned. He helped people, healed people and did amazing impossible feats that could only be performed by God or his Son.” Caelan, 11

“God saw that the world was full of sin and it needed to be forgiven, so he sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.” Thomas, 10

“Why would someone die for us all on the cross and then rise from the grave again on the third day? How could someone do that and not be sent by God? He fulfilled the mission that saved us all from Hell. He made it so we all could be with him.” Forrest, 11

John 8:12: Later, Jesus talked to the people again. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never live in darkness. They will have the light that gives life.”

Light is a symbol of God’s holiness and presence. God created light on the first day of creation and lights on the fourth day (Genesis 1:3 & 1:14). God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, another kind of light (Exodus 3:2).

Jesus said he is the light of the world (John 8:12). Every night during the Feast of Tabernacles, there was a lamp-lighting ceremony in the temple. Large lamps burned all night. Men brought smaller torches into the temple area. They sang and danced through the night while the Levite orchestra played. This was one of the happiest times of the year for the Jewish people.

Light is related to truth. One of the songs they sang during this feast is from Psalm 119:105: “Your word is like a lamp that guides my steps, a light that shows the path I should take.” Another song came from Psalm 27:1: “LORD, you are my Light and my Savior.”

Jesus Christ is both the light of the world and the light that guides all those who follow him as disciples. As light of the world, Jesus is drawing all people to himself every day (John 12:32). Please notice that Jesus is the light of the “world.” This is not part of the world or a certain chosen group. This is everyone!

If Jesus is God and all-powerful, why doesn’t everyone become a Christian? The answer is simple. Jesus chooses not to use his power to make people believe in him. Jesus loves the world. As we know from John 3:16 and other Bible verses, Jesus died for the sins of the world.

Even though Jesus showed his love for us by his death on the cross, he chose not to force his love on us. There is no such thing as forced love. True love must be free to accept or reject love from another person.

When I first met my wife, I didn’t know if she would want to be my friend. When I asked her to marry me, I hoped she would say “yes,” but I could not force her to accept my proposal.

Notice that Jesus said, “Whoever follows me will never live in darkness.” Can a born-again believer live in darkness? All you have to do is read the book of I Corinthians to see Christians living in darkness. The Apostle Paul had to remind them that their bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19).

God will discipline believers who walk in darkness. In the Corinthian church, some believers got drunk and ate together without considering the poor Christians among them who had little or nothing to eat at the Lord’s Supper. In the first century, Christians ate the Lord’s Supper as a complete meal together every Sunday. Look at how the Lord disciplined them: “That is why many in your group are sick and weak, and many have died,” (I Corinthians 11:30).

Jesus said that Christians who follow him “will have the light that gives life.” Light and life are connected. Remember John 1:4: “In him there was life, and that life was a light for the people of the world.”

When a Christian understands and accepts the fact that Jesus is the center of the universe, this light or understanding changes everything. With Christ as the center of your life, you now have purpose and meaning. Nothing happens by chance. God is always at work. You’re always looking for God’s purpose in everything that happens. This doesn’t mean that everything that happens is good. There is evil and sin in this world. Many people get discouraged by this. But don’t be fooled. God is still in charge, and his purpose always wins.

God can work through you so that so that you are like a lighthouse. The light of God’s love and grace can lead others to know the light of God’s life in the Lord Jesus Christ. When you understand the foolishness of trying to live with yourself as the center of the world, you can begin to experience the abundant life that Jesus promised to his followers. The self-centered life is small, dark and lonely. The Christ-centered life is large, joyful and full of friends in God’s family all over the world.

John 8:13-15: But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “When you talk about yourself, you are the only one to say that these things are true. So we cannot accept what you say. Jesus answered, “Yes, I am saying these things about myself. But people can believe what I say, because I know where I came from. And I know where I am going. But you don’t know where I came from or where I am going. You judge me the way people judge other people. I don’t judge anyone.”

Have you ever flown in an airplane at night? When you look down from the airplane, you see lights shining. You don’t need anyone else to tell you the lights are shining. You can see the lights for yourself. As the light of the world, Jesus didn’t need anyone else to prove that he was God’s light sent into the world. Anyone who had spiritual sight could see his light.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were religious leaders. They were trying to work their way to heaven by keeping God’s law. By trusting their own efforts to keep the law, they became blind to the light of Jesus’ love and goodness. They judged Jesus by their own standards. Many of these standards were not in the Bible. They were religious standards that the religious leaders had invented on their own. They thought their religious rules made them more acceptable to God.

Jesus didn’t attend their religious school. He didn’t keep their religious rules. Jesus healed sick people on the Sabbath, which was a day of rest. This shows their hardness of heart. Instead of rejoicing that Jesus had healed a person, they condemned him for healing on the Sabbath.

The Pharisees should have thought about the miracles of Jesus as Nicodemus did. When Nicodemus the Pharisee came to Jesus by night, he said, “Teacher, we know that you are a teacher sent from God. No one can do these miraculous signs that you do unless they have God’s help,” (John 3:2). Or, the Pharisees could have listened to what John the Baptist said about Jesus being the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Religion that promotes good works as a way to heaven will make you self-righteous. Unless you humble yourself and change your mind about your own good works as the way to heaven, you will remain blind to the light of the gospel of grace. Jesus and his sacrifice for our sins is the only goodness that God the Father accepts for our salvation.

The Pharisees used their own religious standards to judge Jesus. These standards failed to look at the heart of a person. They only focused on what they could see with their eyes. Jesus didn’t look like the Messiah that they expected. Jesus does not judge based on appearances. He has spiritual knowledge of us. He looks on the heart. He knows our thoughts and the reasons why we do something.

There are plenty of examples today of people who do or say something that seems good and right to us at the time. But then we find out they were just doing it to get enough people to vote for them. Then they end up breaking many of the promises they made. They stop doing good things and start doing whatever brings them money and power.

The opposite is true, too. You could be doing something for all the right reasons, but it seems wrong to others. Never worry about what people think of you. They don’t know what you are thinking. Whatever you do, make sure you do it as unto the Lord. He will reward your desire to please him.

John 8:16-18: “But if I judge, my judging is true, because when I judge I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that when two witnesses say the same thing, you must accept what they say. I am one of the witnesses who speaks about myself. And the Father who sent me is my other witness.”

Jesus came to Earth the first time to save us, not to judge us. He will return again to judge the world. But even if Jesus were to judge during his 33 years on Earth, his judgment would be true because he always sought to do his Father’s will.

Under the law given by God to Moses, two witnesses were needed to establish something as true in a court of law. If the testimony of two men is enough to establish something as true, then how much more would the witness of two divine persons establish something as true. During Jesus’ 33-year ministry, both he and his Father said that Jesus is God’s chosen one, savior and Messiah.

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the heavens opened. The Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus like a dove. God the Father spoke from heaven and said, “This is my Son, the one I love. I am very pleased with him,” (Matthew 3:17).

Jesus took apostles Peter, James and John high on a mountain. They saw Jesus’ face shine like the sun. His clothes turned bright white like light. They heard God the Father speak from heaven: “This is my Son, the one I love. I am very pleased with him. Obey him!” (Matthew 17:5).

John 8:19-20: The people asked, “Where is your father?” Jesus answered, “You don’t know me or my Father. But if you knew me, you would know my Father too.” Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the Temple area, near the room where the Temple offerings were kept. But no one arrested him, because the right time for him had not yet come.

Jesus never did answer the Pharisees’ question about his Father. Perhaps he knew that they were looking for an excuse to arrest him. Declaring openly that God was his Father would have given them a reason to arrest him. Jesus knew that the devil was their father. Even though these men were religious, Jesus would later say to them, “Your father is the devil,” (John 8:44). Most people will never think of the devil as being the father of religious people like the Pharisees.

Religion that tries to earn God’s favor through good works is very evil. The devil is behind it. Christians are the only ones who can do good works that please God. Why? Because Christians are not trying earn God’s favor. They have accepted God’s favor or his love. They understand that they can do nothing to earn eternal life. They have received God’s life by believing in the Lord Jesus as their savior. Good works for the Christian are a way to share the love of God with those who are still living their lives in darkness without Christ.

Jesus again escaped the Pharisees’ desire to arrest him. His time to be arrested had not come yet. God’s servants can act with great confidence when they are doing God’s will. The time of persecution and suffering may come, but only in God’s perfect timing. From the human view, the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus looked like total defeat. From God’s view, it was the means God used to secure our salvation.

What would have happened if the Apostle Paul had taken the attitude that his ministry was finished when Roman soldiers arrested him? We would not have the New Testament books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. Paul wrote all these books in prison. We are blessed because Paul kept looking for God’s purpose even in the bad things that happened to him.

Think About This: Can you think of a time when you saw someone doing a good deed, but later found out it was for the wrong reasons? Have you ever done something out of your love for God that other people misunderstood?

Memorize This Truth: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never live in darkness. They will have the light that gives life,” (John 8:12).

Ask This Question: Is Jesus your light?

Draw something to go with the headline.
Chapter 39 Bible coloring page: Jesus Follows His Father's Plan

Subscribe to Kids Talk About God
Devotional Bible Lessons

Subscribe to to receive an email containing three devotional columns for free each week.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.