Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Speaker: Jerry Cisar
It is the evening of the last, the great day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Families, in the darkness of Jerusalem’s night, would take their children outside to look in the direction of the temple. The skies above it were flooded with light from the lights in the main court of the temple complex, the Court of Women. Four 86 foot tall candelabra were lit; each with large bowls of oil at the top and wicks. Another 1,000 candles were lit at the floor of the courtyard. This was the most celebratory time on the Jewish calendar.
This night’s activities commemorated the pillar of fire by night which guided Israel so that, whether day or night, they knew where to go. It is into this context that Jesus, with thousands of people surrounding Him says, “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 NIV). Jesus is not only the light in the wilderness that the people followed, but He is the guide for the entire world, not just the Jewish people.
The Jews of Jesus’ day thought they were the light – that Judaism was the light. They were very proud of their temple and their city, shining light into the darkness of winter. They believed this glorious edifice would always be there to be the light of the world. But John’s original audience, when they first heard this on the other side of AD70, were aware that the light of the temple had been snuffed out. They knew, in the words of Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story.”