Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “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 past week, I learned something so interesting. It’s not sure exactly when Jesus made the above statement, but it was sometime between the Feast of Tabernacles and Hanukkah. Both of these deal with the image of light though. The most interesting thing to me is that during the Feast of Tabernacles, there was a ceremony called the Illumination of the Temple. Four seventy-five foot high candelabras that held around seventeen gallons of oil were set up in the Women’s Court of the Temple. They were lit and burned throughout the night, lighting up the entire city of Jerusalem. Just imagine, before electricity was even imagined, four candelabras gave off enough light to see all over a city! The lights were to remind the people of the pillar of fire that went before the children of Israel when they were freed from Egyptian bondage and wandered the desert towards the promised land.
It was also to celebrate the anticipation of the coming Messiah, the light of the sin-darkened world. The men would dance and sing psalms of praise to God for his coming Messiah.
And then, Jesus makes the statement “I am the light of the world.” Imagine the magnificence of that statement now. With the image of the huge candelabras still fresh in their minds, Jesus declares he is the fulfillment of that promise they were singing and dancing for. No wonder the Pharisees were so upset.
The magnitude of this back story is so awesome. We’ve lost so much of the backdrop for the New Testament through the years. I would love to see some of these festivals/feasts, to be a part of them, so that the magnitude of everything Jesus did would be that much more evident. It leaves me speechless to think that every word Jesus spoke had a purpose and a back story that makes those words so much more meaningful than we realize.