Focal Passage: John 8:3-18
A few years ago, Emily and I made a quick trip north to visit Mammoth Cave National Park. The cave is appropriately named because at 285 miles in length it’s the longest cavern system in the world.
While we were inside, our eyes were opened to magnificent rock formations, spikey stalactites, tight passages and underground streams and waterfalls. But there was one part of our tour that I will never forget.
The park ranger asked everyone to turn off their phones and cameras, and then he turned off the lights — all of them. I’ve never experienced darkness like that before in my life. The room was pitch black in every direction.
During those moments, our guide told us about some who had gotten lost or trapped in the cave, and how such darkness was totally debilitating. They would become quickly disoriented, lose all sense of direction, become unaware of nearby dangers, and their ears would ring violently trying to pick up sound. The ranger mentioned that unless someone quickly comes with a light and shows them the way out, it will soon lead to death.
Throughout the Bible, darkness is used as a metaphor to describe the sinful condition of the heart. In our fallen nature, we are depicted as having darkened hearts, minds, eyes and understandings.
Like those lost in a dark cavern, humans arrive in the world spiritually blind and disoriented, unable to make godly decisions and resist what is false and immoral, and they have no personal means of escape. With no sense of direction, sinners will likewise die in their darkness and face eternal judgment. What the world needs is a light, and we have our lifesaving illumination through Jesus.
In John 8:12, Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world … whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” It’s important to note that our Lord spoke these words during the Feast of Tabernacles, which celebrated God leading the Israelites through the wilderness.
During this festival, the priests would set up four massive torches, almost as tall as the temple walls, each containing 65 liters of oil. In the evening, the torches would burn so bright that most of Jerusalem was illuminated.
As the torches burned, the people would sing and dance throughout the night, celebrating God leading their ancestors by a great pillar of fire (cf. Exodus 40:36-38).
It was in this moment that Jesus stood in the temple treasury (John 8:20) and declared that He was the fulfillment of this lifesaving light.
How was Jesus the “light of the world?”
For one, He is the Son of God, the only One who can show us the way to the Father. Through His perfect life and sacrificial death, He has illuminated the path to eternal life, so that those who follow him in faith will have fellowship with God.
Secondly, he exposes our sinful hearts, revealing the darkness of our sin, which shows us our need for a Savior.
Thirdly, like a lighthouse, He shows us how to navigate through this dark world in righteousness, how to live in a way that pleases God.
Jesus is the only “light of the world,” but are you following Him? B&R