I love campfires. It’s not just the smell of burning wood, or the prospect of s’mores. It’s not just the sound of crackling wood or the blast of warm air against my face in the midst of a crisp evening. It’s the light. It’s captivating. It’s mesmerizing. It’s attractive. It brings a sense of safety in the midst of darkness.
Announcing the Light
Watch now. Verse 12 of John 8 declares, “When Jesus spoke again to the people…” At first this may seem as an unimportant introduction to a passage. But I want you to look with me at an important question. Where was Jesus speaking to the people? Let me show you how the context of this passage can shed light onto our text.
Please skip ahead to verse 20 of John 8 with me. “He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings where put.” The Scripture tells you that Jesus was speaking in a portion of the temple that was known as the Treasury. The Treasury was located in a part of the temple known as the Court of Women. This Court contained two enormous menorahs. Menorah is the Jewish word for candle stand. It is said that when these menorahs were lit, there was not a court in the Temple of Jerusalem that was not illuminated. In fact, you could see the light of the temple from any part of the city.
The second important question I would like for you to consider is, “When was Jesus speaking to the people.” Please flip back with me to John 7:2. “But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea..’” But Jesus responded in verse 6, “The right time for me has not yet come…”
John 7:14 says, “Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and began to teach.”
Skip ahead to John 8:2. “At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people sat down to teach them.” And this brings us back to 8:12. “When Jesus spoke again to the people…”
- Where was Jesus teaching? The Treasury in the Court of Women.
- When was Jesus teaching? At the close of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Tabernacles was an annual Jewish celebration. The purpose of the feast was to Celebrate God’s miraculous provision in protecting and guiding the Jewish people through the Wilderness during their Exodus from Egypt. During the Feast, the Jews lit enormous candelabras each evening to remember the brilliant pillar of fire that led the Jews through the wilderness by night. “The great candelabra were close behind Him, fifty cubits [6 feet] high and sumptuously gilded. Every night these lights were lit and shed their soft light all over the city. Here, the people joined in festive dances to the sound of the flutes and other music and the Levites chanted the Songs of Degrees [Pss. 120-134].” (J. W. Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids: 1939), 352.)
On the last night of the Feast, the candelabras were extinguished. With all this as a background, I believe Jesus stood in this court that had been so brilliantly illuminated for days but now was dark and declared, “I am the Light of the World…” This must have been such shock to the senses of the Jews that were gathered there. The light of the candelabras was still fresh in their memories. The darkness of the night was enveloping them. And Jesus declares, “I am the Light of the World.”
My friends there is a darkness that is enveloping the world around us. Immorality, promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, and all manner of evil casts its shade over the landscape of our nation. But the light of Jesus Christ shines into the darkness!
The Permanence of the Light
The Lights of the candelabras were extinguished, but Jesus is the Light that shines for eternity. The pillar of fire was extinguished after the Jews reached the Promised Land; the candelabras were extinguished at the end of the Feast of Lights, but Jesus Christ burns brightly for eternity.
- His Light will never dim
- His Light will never darken
- His Light will never diminish
Satan is seeking to do all that He can to snuff the Light of God. But Satan can’t touch, tarnish, or tamper with the Light of God. The brilliant light of Jesus Christ is greater than light for the temple, or light for a city: it is the light of the world! Jesus shines brightly for eternity. He is shining brightly in the World today. I know that there is violence in the Middle East, fighting in Iraq, troops in the Afghanistan, economic difficulty in American, and drugs in our schools, but the Light of God is still shining!
It is shining brightly and brilliantly in the world today. I’ve seen His light in my life, I’ve seen His light in my marriage, I’ve seen His light in my kids, and I’ve seen His light shine in you!
- His Light has led some of you out of sin
- His Light has led some of you through suffering
- His Light has brought some of you sickness
The Extent of the Light
But notice please, that this Light isn’t just for you and me. Jesus says that He is the “Light of the world.” Jesus is not just a Light to the Jews. He is a light to the African, the Oriental, the Westerner, the Easterner, the Northerner and the Southerner. He’s a light to the privileged, and to the poor. He’s a light to the respected, and to the reviled. He’s a light to old and to the young. My Jesus is a Light to the whole world.
Please look at verse 12 again. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus picks up on the symbolism of the people wandering in the wilderness. Remember, the feast of tabernacles was the celebration of when God brought His people out of wilderness during the great Exodus. Imagine nearly one million people lost in the wilderness, wandering around with no one to guide them, no map to lead them, no cloud to guide them by day and no pillar of fire to guide them by night. They wouldn’t get very far would they. They would have been lost in the wilderness.
Today, it is not 1 million people lost in the wilderness; it is 6 Billion people lost in spiritual wilderness! They are fumbling around aimlessly, hoping to stumble upon a path that will lead them out of the defeat they are experiencing. They are hopeless, hapless, and helpless. Friends, without a light to guide you, you will remain lost in the wilderness. But in the light of God you can have all the guidance and protection that you need. Go and spread His light, for you “are the light of the world!”