The Supreme and Valid Judge
Jesus had claimed to be the light of the world. The Pharisees, bitter opponents of Jesus and not willing to accept His claim, challenged Him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
Jesus replied, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid…you judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right…” (segments of John 8:13-16).
Responding to the angry assumption by religious leaders of His day that Jesus’ claims were unsubstantiated, Jesus makes an unusual defense. He says His claims about Himself (at this point, He has just claimed to be ‘the light of the world”) are in fact valid because He is not speaking as a casual eyewitness. He is not even speaking as an expert witness. Witnesses testify from a limited perspective. At worst, their testimonies may be mistaken, deluded or even fallacious. At best, they are incomplete because they only represent the narrow perspective of mortal human beings.
Jesus is claiming to speak as One who is the Supreme Judge—not passing judgment illegitimately, irrationally or imperfectly (as His assailants were), but with bona fide authority and complete knowledge. The purpose of a judge is to ensure that justice is served, that wrongs are made right, and that virtue, truth, and equity prevail.
Not only, claims Jesus, is His testimony valid, but He Himself personifies validity. He is the epitome of truth and justice and He will fully and ultimately accomplish everything He intends.
The prophet Isaiah foreshadowed Jesus’ ultimate reign of justice, calling Him “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end…establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (segments of Isaiah 9:6,7) and “He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth…Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist” (segments of Isaiah 11:3-5).
What is our best response to Jesus’ claim to be the Supreme Judge whose testimony is valid? Well the interesting thing about validity is that it carries with it its own test of authenticity: in order to be valid a thing must do what it is designed to do. It must be completely and successfully effectual. Jesus likes nothing better than for individuals like you and me to hold Him up to this high standard of validity—not with a skeptical attitude but in honest faith: He wants us to take Him fully at His Word, to give Him complete freedom to live in and through the very core of us; to allow His transforming power little by little to make us new creatures. He wants to apply His justice to our situation so that we will flourish for eternity rather than struggle under the bondage in which we find ourselves so often captive.
Notice how Jesus’ claims about Himself are intended to affect us? As ‘the Light’ Jesus is the source of life, gives insight into the unseen world, and provides deep joy in our inner being. As ‘the Supreme and Valid Judge’ Jesus offers us truth and ultimate justice—He does not stand by unmoved by our captivity to sin and all the wrongs happening in this dark world. Jesus wants to bring good into people’s lives—His way. As we think about His claims, may we embrace Jesus for who He is and nothing less.
(Photo Credit: Statue: Contemplation of Justice; Matt H. Wade – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5831586)