It was the Feast of Tabernacles, one of Israel’s great religious celebrations and the people were out in force. The week long festival commemorated how God had provided for the Children of Israel during their wanderings in the wilderness. It was a time of giving thanks for the rain, which nourished their crops, and just as importantly the celebration looked forward to the pouring out of God’s Spirit at the coming of God’s Kingdom. An interesting aspect of the festival was that the people made themselves booths of branches, twigs and leaves to live in as another symbolic way of remembering the wilderness wanderings.
At the end of the first day in the “court of women”, four golden lamps were lit for the first time and this procedure would be carried out each day of the Feast of Tabernacles. In the evening, the city of Jerusalem was bathed in the warm light that radiated out from the Temple. As expected, the celebration was a time of great joy with singing and dancing continuing throughout the night. At the end of the Festival, as the great lights of the Temple were extinguished for the last time, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12
In Isaiah God says the Servant of the Lord, the Messiah, will be, “a light of the nations so that my Salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6b The Psalmist writes, “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1 Isaiah 60 states, God Himself would be the people’s light. The crowd who heard Jesus voice must have been stopped in their tracts. Was He really claiming to be the Messiah, the Servant of the Lord that would ring in the coming of the Spirit and the coming of God’s Kingdom? On Calvary’s cross they would receive their answer, but the majority of them would miss the implication of the Sacrifice.
I bought a powerful battery operated light to have in our home for emergencies like when our lights go out during a severe winter storm. Of course when I needed it the most, the batteries were dead. To walk in darkness is not easy. You become unsure of yourself and even things that are familiar in the daylight become unfamiliar in the dark. It is easy to miss a stair or bump into something. Feelings of helplessness and frustration add to the problem and you end up wishing you had just one candle. One little light would make all the difference.
What a wonderful promise of Jesus. The light He offers doesn’t go out, the batteries don’t go dead leaving you in darkness. He is the light that guides our life and is a “lamp unto our path.” Life’s storms can become overwhelming in a hurry and the darkness can crash in on us with a power that’s mind numbing, but Jesus is there to light our way out of the darkness. Sometimes it may seem only like the glow of a candle way off in the distance, but it is a light and if we move towards it we will be surprised how bright it is. But, this light of Jesus is more than comfort when we face dark periods in our lives; it is the light of salvation. It is the offer of grace and redemption for anyone who asks. Jesus the great “I AM,” is the hope of the world and anyone who puts their trust in Him and follows where He guides will not be disappointed. For Jesus, His journey led to the cross, and our journey leads to the foot of the cross, but when we look up, salvation is shinning down on us.
Next post we will look at what Jesus meant when He claimed, “I am the door.”