Psalm 119:97-120 • Jeremiah 8:18–9:6 • Romans 5:1-11 • John 8:12-20
Jesus the Light of the World — John 8:12-20
In today’s Gospel lesson, we receive the second of seven “I Am” statements* from Jesus—“I am the light of the world.” I found several online commentaries on the lesson, and the one that interested me most placed it in the context of a festival that Jesus was attending called The Festival of Booths (also known as Sukkot). According to the website Judaism 101, Sukkot “has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters [thus the reference to booths or huts]. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as . . . the Festival of Ingathering.” Now let’s go back to the commentary, or at least an excerpt:
“A lamp-lighting ceremony took place in the temple every evening of the feast, during which large lamps were set up in the Court of Women. The lamps’ light, it was said, filled every courtyard in the city. In the light of these lamps there was great singing and dancing all evening in celebration of God's salvation, especially his deliverance at the exodus as he led his people with his presence in a pillar of fire by night. In the sight of these great lamps in the Court of Women, perhaps even in the evening while they blazed, Jesus proclaims himself to be the light of the world.”
In the same way that the lamplight may have filled every courtyard in the city during the Festival, Jesus’ teachings, his way of living, his way of loving can fill all of our dark spaces. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” When we “follow” rather than wandering in the desert of our own devices, Jesus’ perfect light can seep into our very being. Then, we will be equipped with the ability to reflect that light back to each other and to the hurting world around us.
* “I am the bread of life” • “I am the light of the world” • “I am the gate for the sheep” • “I am the good shepherd” • “I am the resurrection and the life” • “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” • “I am the true vine”
— Christie Thomas