Summary: An practical exploration of what it means that Jesus is the light of the world.
Jesus, the Light of the World
The text that we have to consider today falls in the midst of a group of seven. There are seven witnesses. They are active. They are describing not only the person of Jesus, but also the Father who sent him.
One, of the seven, centers in the eighth chapter of the book of John. As it is designed to tell us and explain more completely how Jesus is indeed the light of the world.
The whole subject of lights does not come to me easily … Lights are not an easy subject to talk about because they illumine so much in our lives. The darkness is much easier to consider because it is quite frequently there that we find ourselves at home.
But even in Jerusalem, there came an occasion where there was a great lighting of the city. During the Feast of Tabernacles, the feast was begun by the lighting of four candelabras, in the Court of Women. One the top of the four candelabras were four bowls. And there were four ladders that led to the top of them. And at the beginning of the feast, they would light those four candelabras.
The testimony of the Mishnah is that all of the backyards and gardens of Jerusalem were lit. And through the next 24-hour period, through the night, they were able to sing and make melody in their hearts … to dance and to bring joyous melody into the city of Jerusalem.
It is in the midst of this feast that we come to read about Jesus’ claim that he is the light of the world. Vs. 20 of chapter 8 says that these words were spoken in the treasury of the temple. The reference that John gives us is a specific reference to establish the setting for us. It is not in the treasury proper that he gives reference to here. Rather, it is the entrance to the treasury, an entrance off of the Court of Women. There in that colonnade, a porch like setting, were those trumpet-like structures were for people to give their offerings for the temple treasury. It was there that those four candelabras could be found. It was there that the light illuminated all of Jerusalem.
During this great Feast of Tabernacles, on this last day, the lights have dimmed, and they are no more. But at the very feet of these candelabras, Jesus says, "I am the light of the world." Not only would he illumine Jerusalem, but he would illumine the world.
It seems to me that we must take this in the context of the Gospel of John. For to preach any message from the gospel of John without taking into consideration the aim of the gospel is, perhaps, to become lost in the history of the text itself. May I suggest today that in looking at this text that our aim is the same as that of John, when he wrote this gospel: "That all would believe, and have life in Jesus Christ."
And so he says, "I am the light of the world." And it seems to me in this context of discussion from chapter 7 to 9, what we see is that Jesus is talking about at least three truths concerning the light of the world. Though there are many more, it is those three that will help us to capture the focus of Jesus’ attention in the midst of the context of chapter 8, vs. 12-20.
1. The first truth is this: The light of the world brings revelation. And first of all, what we need to understand is that revelation came in Jesus’ light. He tells the Pharisees on this occasion that he came to reveal the Father. They thought they knew the Father well. But, it was, in this dialogue, on this occasion, that he begins to explain to them that he came to reveal the Father, the one that they though they knew, but, in fact, did not know. He says, in vs. 19, "If you knew me, you would know my Father." And, of course, as has already been established, in the prologue of this gospel, "No one has ever seen God, but the only Son who is in the bosom of the Father. He has made Him known."
If we are to know Him, we must identify the Him. May I suggest that Jesus has so intertwined himself with the Father that here when Jesus speaks, God speaks. When people see Jesus, they see the Father. And it is not an attempt to distinguish them totally, but here to realize the need to come to relationship with Jesus, and thus to the Father, and to know Him. And Jesus says he came to reveal that Father.