There is so much importance of when and where something is said. The timing of making a statement can become just as powerful as the statement itself. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech” is one of the most iconic speeches of all time. Add to the power of the words of Dr. King is the fact that this speech was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial which brings so much to the power of that speech. The state of the world at that time is significant too.
1. What are the most memorable statements you have ever heard in your life? Why were these so impactful?
In John Chapter 8, Jesus says, “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). This is one of the more well-known statements that Jesus makes. It is even more amazing if we look at the context of what is going on around Jesus when He makes this statement.
2. What do you think is the significance of Jesus saying He was “the Light of the World?”
Before we even get to Jesus’ statement, we need to understand what is going on in Jesus’ world at this time. If we go back a chapter, we read in John chapter 7 that “the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand” (John 7:2). Be honest, when you read your Bible how often do you stop and study about something that you do not know about? Do not feel too bad, there are details in the Bible that were so connected with the culture of the time that most miss. One of those would be this feast. Taking time to look into or learn more about these cultural specifics can bring a greater understanding of the context of the situation.
In Exodus chapter 23, God says, “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me” (Exodus 23:14). So at the time of John chapter 8, people are celebrating, or at the very least finishing, the Feast of the Booths. During this feast, there were several acts of ceremonial worship that took place, but we are going to focus in on one. In the courtyard around the temple, there were four huge candelabras that had four giant bowls made of gold. The Talmud (book of Jewish rabbi’s discussing their thoughts on the Old Testament) states that priests and other religious elite would make candle wicks out of their old clothes. It was said that there was not a courtyard in all of Jerusalem that was not lit up with the light from these candelabras.
3. How do you think pride could have snuck into the hearts of the priests who provided the garments for the wicks?
Add all of that new information to the time when Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World.” He said it in a very exact location, to an exact group of people, and at an exact time. In John chapter 8, Jesus is arguing with Pharisees and religious elite and John 8:20 tells us, “These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple.”
Remember what Jesus already had said, “Again Jesus spoke to them, ‘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).
4. What is the deeper significance of Jesus saying He was “the Light of the World?”
5. Why do you think Jesus saying that He was “the Light of the World” would be so aggravating to a Pharisee?
6. What is the major difference between the priests providing the light of Jerusalem and Jesus saying He was “the Light of the World?”
One aspect of Jesus announcing He was “the Light of the World” is where He proclaimed it. Jesus told a group of people who were spiritually blind that He was “the Light of the World” and “whoever follows me will not walk in darkness.” Jesus wanted everyone to know He was the light to illuminate their path back to Him. For the Pharisees and the Jewish nation, they were focused on making sure their light shone inward. Their festival was for them, the Jews in Jerusalem. How often is the church today only focused on making sure “the Light of the World” is only for those they want to give it to?
Matthew 5:14-16 adds, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
7. How do you shine your light before others?
Since the wicks of the candelabras were made of priest’s clothing, there was a bit of pride and arrogance that went along with the shining light.
8. How do you make sure the light you are shining to others is the light of Jesus and not your own piety?
9. What is going to be different for you this Easter season than in years past? How can you shine the light of Jesus to the world around you?