Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 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.” They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
Boldness is much easier when we know we haven’t yet reached the limits. In my case, our time at an institution which was in desperate need of leadership change often resulted in me saying the things which others felt they were unable to say. I became a thorn in the side of the leadership because I knew they weren’t going to fire me in the middle of an academic year when they had no one to fill my shoes. Quite frankly, they needed to hear that staff were frustrated, that students weren’t feeling supported, and much more. At a time when few felt comfortable being the necessary thorn, I stepped in and filled the gap.
As Jesus preaches, He does so with boldness. Part of the reason, this text reveals, is that “his hour had not yet come.” Jesus knew He had a message to deliver; it was uncomfortable for His hearers, but it needed to be said. He was all the more willing to speak with boldness due in part to the fact that His hour had not yet come. There was more work to do. There was more that needed to be said, and He was the one to say it. The time would come when He would be arrested and tried for the words He spoke. That day was not today.
Knowing where we are can help our boldness. If we know we’re a step away from persecution and death, it can be much more difficult to stand strong. If there is little chance of anything other than a glare out of those who stand against us, then why not be bold?
If we’re honest, however, boldness is often difficult for us. We talk ourselves out of many situations because we dislike confrontation or we’ve convinced ourselves that there is no way we can possibly make a real difference. How many opportunities for evangelism and outreach do we miss because we simply convince ourselves that it’s not worth putting ourselves out there to begin with?
The end of the next section gives the reader some added incentive to demonstrate this boldness. “As he was saying these things, many believed in him.” It appears to be due to both the truth in Jesus’ words and the boldness with which He speaks that those present respond with belief. This is essentially what it is to preach well – to declare the truth with boldness and conviction.
What do you preach? How do you model the gospel? Do you speak with boldness and conviction, or do you allow fear and timidity to win the day? Remember, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but one of power, of love, and of sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). Declare the truth when it is uncomfortable. Declare the truth when it is suppressed. See what can come from a willingness to speak with boldness and conviction.
Spirit of all Authority, You have created me to speak with clarity and with passion. As I bring the message of the gospel to those around me, may I do so in such a way that they are clearly able to see Your hand at work within me. May I overflow with compassion and kindness as Jesus does, but may I also overflow with the boldness and conviction which come from knowing Jesus Christ. Help me to confront where the world needs to hear the truth, to correct when the situation I encounter needs a strong word, to train up in righteousness those who are growing and maturing in the faith. May the words I speak be defined by power, love, and the sound mind within me by Christ Jesus. May You be magnified by the words I speak.