Summary: Since Jesus is the light of the world, we need to allow the light of Jesus into every area of our life (belief) and continue to walk in the light (discipleship).
During Lent I have been addressing Jesus’ seven “I am” statements in the gospel of John, through each statement Jesus revealed a little more about who he really was, what his purpose was in coming , and how we are supposed to respond to him. In our memory verse this morning Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.”
As I was reflecting this week about light, I was thinking about our need for light, particularly light from the sun. Our very life, our very existence depends upon light from the sun. If it wasn’t for sunlight our planet wouldn’t be warm enough to sustain life, without light crops would not be able to grow, without light plants couldn’t complete the process of photosynthesis which takes the carbon dioxide we exhale and creates oxygen for us to breathe. Sunlight also directly affects us. I recently read an article on nutrition that we need exposure to UV light to somehow help our bodies produce vitamin D. Scientists have determined that a form of depression occurs when people don’t get enough sunlight, like in the middle of the winter (the official cause of the winter blahs). We need sunlight to survive. What an appropriate way for Jesus to describe himself to others.
1. Jesus is the Light
When Jesus spoke these words, “I am the light of the world,” John’s gospel tells us he was speaking at the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles/Shelters/Ingathering (7:2). This feast was a week long harvest celebration commanded by God during Moses’ time to occur in October after all the crops had all been gathered in (Lev. 23:33-43). This feast was to remind the Israelites people how God had delivered them from slavery and provided for them during their 40 years in the desert. During the Feast the Jews built shelters made of branches to live in, therefore its name, Feast of Shelters. By living in these shelters for a week they remembered how God had brought their ancestors out of slavery in Egypt and provided for them for 40 years as they wandered the wilderness living in these primitive shelters. Every year they gave thanks and remembered in a tangible way what God had done in their life. You can imagine, after living in a shelter made of branches for a week, you would probably have a greater appreciation for what you have, and how God has blessed you and your family.
As Jesus spoke these words he was in Jerusalem at the Temple treasury. The treasury was not a building but a place to collect offerings located in the Court of Women just to the east of the Temple [picture]. They would set up thirteen horns which people could place their offering on the way in or out of the Temple. Jewish tradition tells us that during this festival they would light many torches in the Court of Women and these lights could be seen around Jerusalem, lighting up the dark night as it were. These torches served as a symbol of God’s presence (just as we light candles today as a reminder), reminding them how God was present with Moses and their ancestors as a pillar of fire by night as they wandered 40 years in the desert before entering the Promised Land God, which we think of as Israel.