Summary: This single verse in John tells us three things: Jesus is the only true light leading to salvation! Those who follow Him have the Light of Life and must reflect the Light to the world!
Lights of the World
Text: John 8:12
Reading: Isaiah 42:5-7
A.About the Text:
1.In the background of this text, we have the feast of tabernacles (John 7:37).
a.Also called the feast of ingathering (referring to the gathering of crops) or the feast of booths as it was named by God. Read Leviticus 23:33-44
b.This feast was designed (1) to be a memorial of the wilderness wanderings, when the people dwelt in booths, and (2) to be a harvest thanksgiving.
c.In addition to the prescribed sacrifices the Jews performed two additional observances during the feast.
1.Ceremony of Water Libation
Every morning of the feast there was a joyous procession to the Pool of Siloam, with music, headed by a priest with a golden pitcher (a little over 2 pints). As the sacrifice proceeded, the priest returning with the water entered through the Water Gate (named for this event). With a threefold trumpet blast he poured the water into a silver receptacle on the altar.
This reminded them of the water brought out of the rock in the wilderness at Horeb; it also became associated with looking to the Lord for the rains.
2.Lighting the Temple
At the end of the first day of the feast, the worshippers congregated in the Court of Women where a great illumination took place. Four huge golden lamps or candelabras, each with four golden bowls were filled with oil by four youths of priestly descent. They had to use four ladders for this task. According to the saying, "There was not a court in Jerusalem that was not lit up by it". Around the lamps a sacred dance was conducted and prominent leaders with flaming torches in their hands. This was accompanied by Levites playing harps, lutes, cymbals, trumpets and "instruments without number" standing on the fifteen steps leading up from the Court of Women to the Court of Israel.
In this seasonal celebration the people remembered that as well as the rain, plenty of sunshine was needed and the people were thanking God for the sunshine and acknowledging him as the true light. (“The Lord is my light and my salvation" Psalm 27:1) who would give them spiritual life through Messiah.
The symbolism of this event looked back to when God led Israel in the wilderness with the pillar of fire and His presence had dwelt in the Tabernacle. And forward to the future Messiah who would be the light of YHVH arising on the people
It was with this ritual in the backdrop that Jesus made the statement recorded in John 8:12.
I.Jesus… said, I am the Light of the world
John 8:12 Then Jesus again 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.”
1.Jesus was proclaiming the fulfillment of prophesies of Isaiah to those in Jerusalem.
a.Isaiah 9:2 “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.”
b.Isaiah 42:6 “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.”
2.They had failed to realize that Isaiah predicted that a great light would shine in Galilee, bringing illumination to those who lived and walked in darkness and death. As the language Jesus used in 8:12 echoed Isaiah 9:2, he was pointing to himself as the fulfillment of that prophecy.
3.Jesus stated He was “the Light,” not merely a light or another light among many lights. He is the only Light, “the true Light” that brought life so that the people might no longer have to walk in darkness.
4.In proclaiming Himself the light of the world, Jesus defined his unique position as the one true light for all people, not just the Jews. Isaiah wrote, Isaiah 49:6 “I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
II.Jesus said, “…he who follows Me,”
A.He meant whoever believes and obeys Him.
1.If Christ be the light, then,
a.It is our duty to follow him, to submit ourselves to his guidance, and in every thing take directions from him, in the way that leads to salvation.
b.It is not enough to look at this light but we must follow it, believe in it, and walk in it, for it is a light to our feet, not our eyes only. As the Psalmist wrote:
Psalm 27:1a “The Lord is my light and my salvation…”