Summary: By making the claim to be the light of the world in the temple, Jesus was invoking images that we may have never thought of before. Here are the images of light that Jesus roused in the minds of His listeners.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:1-5
In these verses, John introduces God the Son, our Savior and Messiah, as the Word, and that the Word possesses light. In fact, John stops just short of calling Jesus the light.
Many years later, Jesus wakes up from a night of sleeping in the Garden of Gethsemane, and goes into the Temple. As He came in, people flocked around Him, and He began teaching them. As he taught, the scribes and Pharisees brought him a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. While the crowd of people watch, Jesus confounds and frustrates the religious leaders in the Temple. Then he proceeds to boldly forgive the woman of her sins, an action which only deity could offer.
After this, He turns his attention back to the throng of people and makes this bold claim:
I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12
In this setting of the Temple, speaking to people who were familiar with the scriptures and all that they taught, Jesus was invoking a number of images in the minds of the people.
First, we will look at Three Great OT Allusions that relate to Images of Light.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:3-4
This third verse in the Bible records the first words that we know of God ever speaking. These words proclaim His first priority in creation, the creation of the phenomenon of light. He did not create the sun until day four, but on day one, He created light and darkness.
By His own spoken word, He revealed all things! Such is so true of His Word today!
And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. Exodus 13:21-22
John 8:20 tells us that the part of the Temple where Jesus teaching and confrontation with the scribe and Pharisees took place is the treasury. This part of the temple is where the women were allowed to
attend. It also happens to be the part of the temple where there were numerous candles burning. These candles were burned to symbolize God’s presence, protection and guidance as the pillar of fire in the darkness as the Israelites were fleeing the Egyptians.
Thanks be to God that He continues to be and ever present help in our time of need! Thanks be to God that he continues to be our shield and buckler! Thanks be to God that He continues to be the Good Shepherd who speaks to and guides His sheep!