WATER AND LIGHT
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" John 8:12 (NIV).
Although the interlude which records Jesus' encounter with the woman caught in adultery doesn't seem to fit, it apparently happened in the temple while He was teaching the people. The water ceremony which we spoke about in a previous post, was part of the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. The lighting of the candelabras took place on the second day of the feast.
"According to the Mishnah (part of the oral tradition of the rabbis), gigantic candelabras stood within the court of the women. Each of the four golden candelabras is said to have been 50 cubits high. A cubit is somewhere between 18 and 22 inches, so we're talking about candelabras that were about 75 feet tall! Each candelabrum had four branches, and at the top of every branch there was a large bowl. Four young men bearing 10 gallon pitchers of oil would climb ladders to fill the four golden bowls on each candelabrum. And then the oil in those bowls was ignited.
"Picture sixteen beautiful blazes leaping toward the sky from these golden lamps. Remember that the Temple was on a hill above the rest of the city, so the glorious glow was a sight for the entire city to see. In addition to the light, Levitical musicians played their harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets to make joyful music to the Lord. What a glorious celebration! The light was to remind the people of how God's Shekinah glory had once filled His Temple. But in the person of Jesus, God's glory was once again present in that Temple. And He used that celebration to announce that very fact. He was teaching in the court of women just after the Feast, perhaps standing right next to those magnificent candelabras when He declared to all who were gathered there,"
Although many of the Jewish leaders were scathing about Jesus' apparent origin in Galilee (although they failed to realize that He was born in Bethlehem as the Scripture had predicted), God had promised that a great light would shine out of Galilee (Isaiah 9:1,2).
The people were unwittingly using ceremonies and symbols which they did not understand while the fulfilment of their symbolic expectation was right there among them! They were celebrating their Messianic hope with physical light while Jesus was offering them a new life of freedom from the demands of selfishness and sin (darkness) so that they could live the lives He intended for them, living lovingly and generously towards others (light).
"'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" John 8:12 (NIV).
There was pain in the heart of Jesus over the spiritual leaders of the nation who refused to recognize and come to Him as the light. He was inviting the people to set aside all their efforts to please God by following rules and rituals. God had set out His teaching (torah) in His law but they had found it impossible to fulfil all His requirements. The leaders laid a heavy burden on the people through their yoke of legalism.
Jesus offered them a better way. 'Follow me,' He said, 'and you will never walk in darkness.' He told them that He had not come to do away with the law but to show them how to fulfil it. In His offer of "living water" there was a promise that the Holy Spirit would be in them, like the water they drank every day to quench their thirst, to give them life and enable them the follow Him.
If they followed His way of life, living for others instead of for themselves, their lives would be filled with His light, the joy and peace of God that would bring them satisfaction and fulfilment instead of dissatisfaction and discontent.
He still invites us to follow Him!
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