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Light of the World: Day Thirteen

Light of the World

Read John 8:12

In chapter 7 of the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus went to the temple and began teaching during the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Booths). The Feast of Booths is a feast that God commanded Moses and the Israelites to observe (Leviticus 23:33-43). The Feast of Booths was a Pilgrimage feast, meaning it was one of the 3 feasts in which the nation of Israel was actually supposed to come to the temple each year in order to celebrate. God instructed the Israelites to celebrate this feast at the time of the harvest and they were to celebrate by making daily offerings and by living in tents (booths, tabernacles) for 7 days. This was to remind them of the way they dwelt in tents when God brought them out of slavery in Egypt and to remind them of how he provided and cared for them as they wandered in the wilderness.

Now during this feast, the priests would lite 4 HUGE candelabras at night. These 4 candelabras were so massive, that it is said that when these were lit, they would give light to the entire city. There is debate among scholars whether or not the candelabras were lit on the last night of the feast, so it is unclear if they were lit at the time Jesus was teaching on the last day of the feast. However, even if they weren’t lit, the picture of the radiant glow of these candelabras would have been very fresh in the minds of those whom Jesus was teaching to. It is against this very backdrop that Jesus proclaims:

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.”

John 8:12

This statement from Jesus is so powerful for several reasons. First, this is 1 of 7 “I am” statements made by Jesus that John records in his Gospel. Any Jewish person who heard Jesus utter this phrase would immediately identify it as an allusion to God.

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

Exodus 3:13-13

The same language that God the Father used to identify himself in the Old Testament, Jesus now uses to identify himself in the New Testament. Secondarily, as we’ve seen over the past few days, Jesus has been shown multiple times to be the fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah concerning the light that will come to the world. But here, he says it of himself. It is his own self-proclamation of who he is.

Last, Jesus says that not only is he the light of the world, but that those who follow him (turn to him, like we saw yesterday) will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. This is incredible! We’ve already seen (and know) that man is in darkness. Mankind does not possess the light. It is only in and through Christ that one is able to have the light. The light is Christ and Christ is the light. To have the light, to walk in the light, is to have and walk in Christ. Because he is the source of the light and when we follow him, we do not walk in his shadow but rather, we walk in his marvelous light.

Action Point: Take a moment to glorify Jesus for being the light of the world by writing out a prayer of praise to him.

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