When Jesus attends the feast of tabernacles in John 7-8, light was one of the big themes of the festival.
“Men danced through the night, holding burning torches in their hands and singing songs and praises. the Levitical orchestra cut loose, and some sources attest that this went on every night of the feast of tabernacles, with the light from the temple shedding its glow all over Jerusalem.” Carson
As they did this, the Jews likely brought to mind the rich imagery of God as light throughout the Old Testament:
- Genesis 1:3 God said, "Let there be light" - remembering God's creating and sustaining power.
- remembering the light from the pillar of fire that guided their ancestors into freedom (Exodus 13-14)
- Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? - remembering that God brings security and drives out fear
- Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. - remembering how God guides
- Isaiah 42:6b-7 ... a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness - remembering that brings sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoner - God saves!
- and looking forward to a future when "The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory" (Isaiah 60:19)
In this context, Jesus stands up and says, "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). This is a massive claim. Jesus is saying that all of those things that the Jews were remembering as they lit their candles and torches find their fulfillment in him. Creating and sustaining power? Look at Jesus. Freedom, protection, security and the absence of fear? Look at Jesus. Guidance, salvation and a glorious eternal future? Look at Jesus.
Uncertain? Insecure? Afraid? Lost? Broken? Separated from God? What you need is Jesus.Religious practices are not the light of the world. Jesus is the light of the world. Follow Him.