Summary: In Jesus, the Light of the World, we see ourselves as God sees us, and we see God as he desires that we see him.
Jesus, the Light of the World
On the evening of the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles, there was a ceremony called the Illumination of the Temple, which involved the ritual lighting of four golden candelbras in the Court of Women. For additional reflection, each person lit four candlesticks and set them in a floating bowl, producing such a spectacle of illumination that it is said that all Jerusalem reflected the light. All night long the light glowed. In celebration and anticipation, the greatest, wisest, and holiest of Israel’s men danced before the Lord and sang psalms of joy and praise while the people watched and waited.
They watched and waited, hoped, and prayed, because this festival reminded the citizens of Israel that God had promised long ago that a child would be born who would be the Anointed One, sent by the great Yahweh to redeem his people. The great prophet of the golden age of prophecy, Isaiah, had proclaimed that the coming of God’s new age would be as the coming of a great light.
For Israel it was a time of darkness and despair. The nation was occupied by a foreign power, and thus the Jews’ aspirations, dreams, and hopes were blunted by reality and blighted circumstances. So they longed for the birth of the one who would restore their rejoicing and revive their joy, the prophet who would renew their glory, release them from bondage, and reestablish their independence.
Against this backdrop Jesus defined who he is: “I am the light of the world!” What a magnificent setting – the darkness of the countryside surrounding the brilliance of the light coming from the temple area – for a declaration that God’s new age had dawned in the birth, person, and work of the humble Nazarene!
Light enables one to see. It illuminates. “To shed light on the matter” means to reveal, to disclose truth. Jesus is the Light of the World in that he enables us to see the truth about ourselves and the truth about God. He illuminates our understanding both of ourselves and God. In Jesus, the Light of the World, we see ourselves as God sees us, and we see God as he desires that we see him.
I. Jesus illuminates the way we feel about ourselves
a. We live in an age of despair and gloom.
i. It is an age that tells us that we are not worth much unless we brush with the right toothpaste
ii. Wash our hair with the right shampoo
iii. Wear the appropriate designer labels
iv. Use the latest jargon.
v. Hang out with the right crowd of people
vi. A great sense of worthlessness, of “nobodiness,” permeates our day.
b. But Jesus as the Light of the World can illuminate our feelings at precisely this point.
i. We have worth because of who our Creator is.
ii. God doesn’t create junk!
iii. You were made the way you are for a reason. GOD!
iv. “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14)
1. This reminds us that we are the good product of the creative, loving activity of God as he moved to bring order out of chaos.
2. Light out of darkness
3. Humans out of the dust of the ground.