Lesson 46

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

8:12 Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life."

 Today's Lesson

I have written in previous lessons about rituals that were associated with the feast in Jerusalem. There was another ritual that occurred during the Feast of Booths that places this scripture within a context.


On the first night of the Feast, four huge candelabras were erected in the outer court of the Temple area. This part of the Temple was called the Court of the Women. The garments of the High Priest were soaked in the purest of oils and as the night begun, the candelabras were lit with these garments wrapped around the top of the towering structures. The gathering was called the Illumination of the Temple. All night long the candelabras would burn brightly and the priest and teachers would lead songs and dancing until the dawn.


Now this ritual was to remind the people that God had chosen them to be a light to the people of the world. From the beginning, God's presence among His people was associated with light. The first dramatic words of God recorded in Genesis is "Let there be light." God proceeded the nation as a pillar of fire through their wilderness wanderings.


So, in Jerusalem where Jesus was speaking they had just had this important ritual of the Illumination of the Temple. In this same area He comes and makes another bold, dramatic statement. "I am the light of the world." Now, this Gospel has already used the theme of light and darkness repeatedly. In what sense does Jesus mean that He is the light of the world?


Jesus is the light of the world because through Him we can see our lives for what they really are. He illuminates our reality in the same sense that the candelabras in the Jewish ritual illuminated the Temple mount. We can see the purpose for our existence and the reasons that things happen to others and us because of what he has taught us about the Father. The Spirit of God leads us to truth. The truth that Christ brings places our lives in a context that was missing before we came to know Him.


Jesus is the light of the world because He gives us a goal to walk towards. He is the light at the end of the tunnel of our lives that we always proceed towards. He is the perfect ideal that we can never achieve, but which we always keep before us. There is a very real sense in which Christ is in us, but also a sense in which He is always before us, just beyond out reach, like the sun in the sky. When we follow Him, we are always facing the light.


Jesus is the light of the world because in His presence we can grow spiritually. God provides us with warmth and comfort through His presence in our lives. Like plants that turn toward the light of the window, our souls turn toward the light of Christ. When Christ comes to live in our world, He provides us with all that we need to mature and develop.


Jesus is the light of the world in the sense that He becomes the focal point of all of our attention. In the theater, the spotlight is always on the most dramatic elements of production. Our focus and attention are drawn toward light. Jesus is God's dramatic spotlight for our world. He is the main actor in this play.


"I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." The curtain raises and God's production begins. The Word is made flesh. Silence falls on the entire world and then, God is speaking to us.


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