When I first illustrated this passage, I did so while reflecting on how Jesus sorted out the problem of the woman caught in adultery, how his light helped everyone look inward and see their own nature more clearly, leaving no one to throw stones. Today, I kept reading through John, Chapter 8, and was filled with a bittersweet feeling, sadness mixed with love and admiration for Jesus. Things turn ugly quickly in the chapter between Jesus and those who seem blind to who stands before them. I could feel the jeers and mock interest, the sense of superiority from those who questioned him. Here are the comments of the crowd (it’s like they are throwing verbal stones at Jesus):
- You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.
- Where is your Father?
- Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘where I am going, you cannot come’?
- Who are you?
- We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone? How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?
- Abraham is our father.
- We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.
- Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?
- Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”’
- You are not yet fifty years old and have you seen Abraham?
If I were more of a theologian, there’s a lot of interesting food for thought in the conversation between Jesus and his detractors. Jesus shares relatively clearly that he is the messiah, that he and the Father are two persons, but also one in their divinity. Here are just a few of the replies from Jesus:
- I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (This verse recalls the prophet Isaiah and his description of the messiah–Isaiah 49:6.)
- In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me. (Two persons of the trinity discussed.)
- Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was I am. (Quite possibly the clearest declaration of the divinity of Jesus by Jesus—“I am” is God’s holy name.)
And those who hear him say these words are really ready to throw stones at him, so shortly after they walked away from the lady caught in adultery, but Jesus hides himself and leaves the temple.
The whole passage begins, Jesus got up early and went to the Temple. He just seems to have planted himself through all kinds of tests and questioning. His light was shining, and most of those around him did not seem to like it at all. This is a hard passage to read because it hurts to imagine myself being where Jesus is, telling truth to unreceptive ears. This is when I retreat into my turtle shell, and just put my light under a basket. But Jesus always shows a better way! The passage reminded me of C.S. Lewis saying that all of us need to make the decision, was Jesus a lunatic, a liar, or Lord? I’ve answered that question for myself, and I wish I could have been in that crowd just sending Jesus my love. I feel like this passage is also a reminder to not look past others or see oneself as superior, but to see the image of God in each person that we meet, not to think better of ourselves than we ought. Jesus reminds us that whatever we do for the least, we do unto him.
I just used copy paper for the tip-in. I cut letters out of masking tape and colored over them with gelatos. I used stamps from my new stamp set from Growing Meadows, too.
The prayer on the inside of the tip-in reads:
Jesus, you are the light of the world. Help me to by myself always without worry of what others might think. Teach me to trust God’s timing as you did and to shine for you in front of any audience. Open my eyes to your image in each person I meet.