Again, Jesus speaks at the great Festival of Tabernacles, which, we have already noted, used the symbols of water and light as their main foci. Yesterday, He used the water metaphor to say, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink, and rivers of living water will flow from them.” Today, He uses the powerful Tabernacle symbol of light.
During the feast of Tabernacles, the Jews erected 4 tall stone pillars in the temple courtyard and filled huge bowls resting on top of the pillars with oil. They lit the oil and the light from these Olympic Cauldron-sized fires lit the night for miles around Jerusalem. It was probably standing below these enormous lights that Jesus spoke today’s lesson, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Imagine that scene for a minute.
Light – it reveals what is hidden, brings comfort in darkness, guides down shadowed paths, and warns against dangers. Light is, therefore, a perfect metaphor for Jesus and for our faith. In fact, earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had said to His disciples, “YOU are the light of the world.” That light is His, but it is also ours.
At my first church, we sought to change the name from “the Evangelical Covenant Church of Cheboygan” to “Lighthouse Covenant Church” for many reason, from identification to symbolism to unity with the community (the symbol for Cheboygan was a lighthouse). While it didn’t fly, I still feel that a lighthouse is the perfect symbol for a church. Churches are meant to reveal what is hidden in this world and our own lives, to bring comfort to people in their darkness, to guide them down shadowed paths (or through shadowed seas) and to warn against the dangers of this world.