This Lesson is part of John’s Gospel Easy Notes Series.
The OT Background
The Feast of the Tabernacles (John 7:1 onwards; see also v. 14 and v.37.) was the context in which Jesus declared himself to be the light of the world. Unless we try to understand the background we will get no idea why Jesus was claiming to be the light of the world.
One of the great highlights of the Feast of the Tabernacles was when four huge candelabra in the Court of the Women in the Temple was lit. It is said that the light and illumination from those lamps was so brilliant that it lit up every courtyard in Jerusalem. This light was a reminder to people of the Pillar of Fire in the wilderness which was the Presence of God with them (Exodus 13:21).
Moreover Isaiah had declared that the Servant of the LORD was to be “a light for the gentiles (Isaiah 49:6).” Jesus is now making the claim that in him that expectation was met.
The Meaning of Life
He came to give meaning to the life of every man who believes in him. He came to give every man a sense of purpose in life and the hope of reaching a heavenly destiny (“for I know where I came from and where I am going. v.14). Thus he was clearing away the darkness concerning the meaning of life.
Jesus Reveals the Father
But more importantly, as you read through the entire chapter, the question the Jews are asking him is about Jesus claiming God to be his Father. They are asking him, “Where is your Father (v. 19)?”
Every religion in the world is man’s search for God. And this search has been dominated by fear. Here is Jesus showing to the world that God his Father is a loving Father. Who else in all the world has shown us that God is our Father in heaven? In this wiping out of the ignorance from the minds of men about God, Jesus has brought light to our understanding of God. It is in that sense he is the light of the world. Read also 1 John 3:1 and 1 John 4:18.
John points out that his conversation happened in the temple area where the offerings were put (here 13 big funnel shaped boxes were kept in one of which the widow put in her two very small copper coins. Mark 12:41, 42.). Now John tells us this because this was very near the area where the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish ruling council of which Nicodemus was a member) met, but because the time of Jesus had not come, no one arrested him (v. 20). See also John 11:47.