John 8:12; 20

One of the things I love about Jesus’ teaching is that he often used nature and other objects to get his point across. He was masterful at using his environment to make a point. Whether it was talking about a farmer sowing seed, being the bread of life, or telling stories about a hidden treasure, you can imagine that Jesus was often seen pointing at things as he taught people. The scene in John 8 is no different.

In John 8:12, Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” That’s quite the statement! Light carries some implicit illusions that we can grasp and understand, but for Jesus’ first listeners, the imagery would have been even stronger. See, later on in the chapter John tells us where Jesus was when he made that statement. He said, “These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple…” (John 8:20) This is one of those very specific details John gives us that should cause us to ask why he’s so specific. Well, during the Feast of Booths, four great lamps were lit that illuminated the whole Temple area. Each of them was 75 feet tall and was said to cast light over every quarter of the city. Guess where those lamps were? That’s right, in the same court as the treasury… right where Jesus was standing.

The lamps were lit during the Feast to recall the cloud and fire that accompanied the people through their desert wanderings. For the Jewish people, that light in the wilderness symbolized God’s presence with his people, protected them from surrounding armies, and most importantly, was the way God guided his people. When the cloud and fire moved, so did the Israelites. They followed the light – quite literally!

On the last day of the feast, the lights went out. So just imagine Jesus is standing in the very place where the people had been lighting lamps for the last seven days. The lamps had gone dark, and I picture Jesus pointing to the extinguished lamps and saying, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus was claiming that he illuminated in the same manner, but that he would not be extinguished. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness cannot overcome it. (Jn 1:5)

Just like the Israelites followed the light through the wilderness, we too are called to follow Jesus. Just like he led and guided them, he will lead and guide us. The question we have to answer is: Will we trust his wisdom to be our light? The Israelites had to choose whether or not they would follow the light as it traveled; we too must decide if we will follow Jesus. He is the light of the world, will you trust him as your light?

Pastor Ryan Paulson

Subscribe to the Daily Fill