In John 8 Jesus says he is the light of the world. That is quite the focus this time of year…and rightly so. John 1 tells us Jesus came into the world as the word made flesh and that in doing so he brought light into the darkness.
The setting for John 8 is the Feast of Tabernacles. Tabernacles was a celebration of the wilderness wanderings. The wilderness time was a time they lived in temporary shelters and when God led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
The Jewish people celebrated this in a few ways. First, they lived in temporary shelters. It was harvest time and this allowed them to be out in the fields watching over their harvest. A second way was they would take the worn out priestly garments and make candelabras out of them and light them on fire to light Jerusalem at night. It is during this festival that Jesus tells the crowd that he is the light of the world!
A third practice at the festival is where the high priest would take a cup and go down to the pool of Siloam and fill it. He would walk up to the temple and pour the water out on the altar reminding them of water from the rock. In John 7 Jesus plays off of this when he says he is the source of streams of living water!
Jesus is the fulfillment and embodiment of Israel…as we celebrate Christmas let us have a deep appreciation for this old, old story that is not just a New Testament story but is a whole Bible story! It is amazing to me that God planned all of this over 1000 years in advance and we get to participate in the light as Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:14) that now we too are the “light of the world”! What a glorious blessing that is. We need to live each and every day as the light…to shine into the darkness that is all around us the unending and unbending love of Jesus!