Jesus: The Light of the World (John 8)

esus 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

Artists, writers, and musicians from virtually every culture have used darkness and light to effectively communicate contrasting truths and emotions. For example, think about a dark scene in a movie, and how the producers use light to communicate an opposite emotion. Without even realizing it, we use this metaphor often in our every day conversations. Consider some examples:
     1. Darkness represents FEAR “The dark of night...” Light represents SECURITY
     2. Darkness represents EVIL “This is a dark place.” Light represents PURITY.
     3. Darkness represents DESPAIR “I went through a dark time in my life.” Light represents HOPE.
     4. Darkness represents IGNORANCE “I’m in the dark on this one.” Light represents TRUTH
     5. Darkness represents DEATH “Fade to black, or lights out” Light represents LIFE

But when Jesus uses this metaphor, we understand the force of his declaration when we locate ourselves in the context in which he made this announcement, at the Feast of Booths. Jewish Historian, Alfred Edersheim, gives us helpful information about this annual Jewish tradition. “At the close of the first day of the feast the worshippers descended to the Court of the Women, where great preparations had been made. Four golden candelabras were there, each with four golden bowls, and against them rested four ladders. Four young men of priestly descent climbed the ladders to light the candelabras. There was not a court in Jerusalem that was not lit up by the light. As part of the ceremony, men danced before the people with flaming torches in their hands, and sang before them hymns and songs of praise. The light shining out of the Temple into the darkness around, and lighting up every court in Jerusalem, must have been intended as a symbol not only of the Shechinah glory of God which once filled the Temple, but as Isaiah 9:2 prophesies “The people who walked in darkness have seen a GREAT LIGHT; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has LIGHT shone.”

This is the context in which Jesus declared: “I am the Light of the World.”

Through his declaration, this metaphor, and all that we read in John 8, we learn four important truths.

Jesus: The Light of the World
John 8

1. The world is in darkness. (8:12)

2. Jesus is the Light of the World. (8:12)

3. Whoever follows Jesus will have the light that leads to life. (8:30-32)
     What does it mean to “follow Jesus” as a true disciple?
     a. Following Jesus is abiding (remaining) in his Word.
     b. Following Jesus is knowing the truth of his Word.
     c. Following Jesus is being set free by the power of his Word.

4. Whoever does not follow Jesus will walk in darkness and die in darkness. (8:13-29, 33-59)
     Jesus exposes those who do not follow him.
     a. They will not believe that Jesus is the Anointed One sent from the Father. (8:13-29)
     b. They are offended by the notion that they are enslaved by sin. (8:33-38)
     c. They hate the truth of God. (8:39-47)
     d. They dishonor the Son of God. (8:48-59)