We are continuing to talk about Jesus’ statements about Himself at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. Later that day as the sun went down, a second ceremony began called the Illumination of the Temple. In the temple courts, the Court of the Women had four large lamps or candelabras. The Mishnah (Sukkah 5:2-3) tells us that each lamp had four great golden bowls with a ladder at each, enabling the younger priests to climb up and fill the bowls with oil and set them alight when it got dark. It must have been an impressive sight.
Because the Temple Mount was at a high point in the city, it is said that the blaze of the lamps lit up most of Jerusalem. During the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jewish people were commanded by God to celebrate for seven days (Numbers 29:12), so all night long, there was dancing and rejoicing before the Lord. More than likely as the lamps were lit, Jesus spoke the second of the seven "I Am” statements found in the Gospel of John. We looked at the first “I Am” when Christ said, “I Am the Bread of Life" (John 6: 35, 48, 51), i.e., an allusion to Jesus' being the heavenly manna, which God, through Moses, gave to the children of Israel. The manna served as a shadow picture of the True Bread that God would provide. As the day began to fade and the young men lit the lamps, Jesus now told them that He is the true light of the world, i.e., the One who would bring men out of darkness (John 1:4-5):
12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "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).
Notice that He didn’t say, I am a light or even one of the lights, but the statement is exclusive, “I am the light of the world” (v. 12). The Pharisees were listening, which again says a lot about the character of Jesus. He didn't say these things just to His disciples. He spoke to all as to Who He was and is, whether they were for Him or against Him. These things were not spoken privately, but Christ courageously spoke the truth about His identity, regardless of the repercussions of His statements. The Pharisees immediately challenged Him because they understood that it was a claim to divinity. The Lord spoke to them many times that He was their light, "The Lord is my light" (Psalm 27:1). "The Lord will be your everlasting light" (Isaiah 60:19). "By his light, I walked through darkness" (Job 29:3).
When God dealt with the Egyptian nation because of their enslavement of the Israelites, one of the ten plagues that fell on Egypt was thick darkness that came upon all of Egypt, but where the Israelites lived, they had light:
21Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” 22So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.23No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived (Exodus 10:21-23).
After their deliverance from Egypt, when Pharaoh and his soldiers chased them to wipe out Israel at the Red Sea, God brought darkness to the Egyptians, but to the Israelite side, there was a light for them to cross the sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:19-20). The apostle Paul wrote that Christ was the Angel of the Lord, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, watching over Israel and providing them bread from heaven, water from the rock, and light in the darkness while they crossed the Red Sea:
1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).
The same One watching over Israel as a Light in the darkness has come to light up the night in men's hearts. I hope the Light of the World has come to your inner darkness. Keith Thomas
Shortened from the more extended study at the following link: Jesus, the Light of the World