Commentary on the Gospel of
We are in the context of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the various ceremonies around the feast throw light to text in order to understand the message. Light was an important element in the ceremonies. The Israelites were guided by a pillar of light in the wilderness. Prophet Zachariah said the light in the ‘Day of the Lord’ that was to come’: ‘There shall be continuous day, not day and not night, for evening time there shall be light’ (14:7). During the feast of Tabernacles enormous candles and golden candlesticks in golden bowls were lit.
The light from the candles reflected on the burnished bowls and illumined the entire city of Jerusalem. People would rise in wonder and awe at this magnificent sight chanting Psalms and reading Scriptures. It is in the context of such a ceremony that Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world.” This “I am” statement, great messianic declaration in the Fourth Gospel, implies the ultimate significance of his being. Pharisees challenged this claim and discarded it as a self-witness. But Jesus knew well where he came from and that his witness was true. His opponents, even as they were living in the Temple, did not have any knowledge of God whom they preached and served. The message for us is that darkness, perplexity and uncertainty fade in the presence of this true light. We can confidently follow this light and we will not stumble in darkness.