Summary: Jesus gives His second sermon on "The I AM's of Jesus" in the context of the Feast of Tabernacles. There is a great significance in His choice to bring this message, "I am the light of the World" at the closing of this feast.
THE INDISPENSABLE LIGHT Of CHRIST (John 8:12-20)
Did you ever consider the fact that the Lord Jesus gave sermons? Much of what Jesus taught concerned the witness of Himself. One of the sermon series that Jesus preached is the “I AM” sayings of Jesus, which were emphatic self-declarations of deity and there would be no doubt in the hearer’s minds about the clarity of what Jesus said. They were emphatic declarations of the exclusive life and work of God through Himself, and could not possibly be statements about mere man.
“12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." 13 The Pharisees therefore said to Him, "You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true." (The Pharisees are denying the deity of Christ to His face.)14 Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; (They are judging on the outward appearance, “face value”.) I judge no one. 16 And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; (Jesus judges according to the heart of man, not the outward appearance.) for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. 17 It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me." (There you have it. Two witnesses.) 19 Then they said to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also." 20 These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour (to be crucified) had not yet come.”
The Prophetic Light
This scripture places Jesus’ words at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles after the Temple had been gloriously illuminated by gigantic candelabras for the first few nights of the celebration. These candelabras which stood within the court of the women were about 75 feet tall! Each candelabra had four branches, and at the top of every branch there was a large bowl. Four young men bearing 10 gallon pitchers of oil would climb ladders to fill the four golden bowls on each candelabra. And then the oil in those bowls was ignited.”
“Picture sixteen beautiful blazes leaping toward the sky from these golden lamps. Remember that the Temple was on a hill above the rest of the city, so the glorious glow was a sight for the entire city to see. In addition to the light, Levitical musicians played their harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets to make joyful music to the Lord. What a glorious celebration! The light was to remind the people of how God's Shekinah glory had once filled His Temple. But in the person of Jesus, God's glory was once again present in that Temple. And He used that celebration to announce that very fact. He was teaching in the court of women just after the Feast, perhaps standing right next to those magnificent candelabras when He declared to all who were gathered there, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). (“Finding Jesus in the Feast of Tabernacles”, by David Brickner)
This scene caused me to think about the great contrast between Light and darkness: the first contrast ever seen between Light and darkness is in Genesis 1 at the Creation: (Genesis 1:1-4) “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 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.”
There has always been a stark contrast between the illumination which light brings and the dismal existence of the deep void of darkness and formlessness. God “saw the light, that it was good”, but Light was sharply divided from the darkness.
God has always led people out of the darkness (a symbol of sin, bondage, and “being lost”) by His Light. The Prophetic statement by Jesus, “I AM the Light” was a description of the leading and protection of God by night. Many scriptures were read during the Feast of Tabernacles, and one of them would have pointed to the remembrance of how God led Israel in Exodus 13: 21: “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.”