The Way Out of the Wilderness
Briefing: Have you ever written a report only to find you left out important details which caused the reader to misinterpret, or not understand what you were trying to say? Without details and background information, some narratives don’t make sense or convey the whole meaning of what you are trying to say.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 8:12-30.
On the Street: Does your jurisdiction have any “archaic” laws on the books? In Texas, the State Constitution still has a law making it illegal to carry a pair of wire cutters in your back pocket. This may sound like a silly law until you understand the context it was written in. The Texas Constitution was written after the Civil War, when the Range Wars were going on. The wire cutter law was written in a period of Texas history when the barb wire fence was becoming a popular and necessary tool for ranches. There were some people who were against fencing and would go around cutting the wires, allowing herds to escape their owner’s property. Knowing the context of why the law was written sometimes changes our perspective on the law itself.
This passage is no different. If you don’t know the significance of where Jesus was when He was giving us this word, you miss some of the meaning.
Jerusalem was in the midst of celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, which was the Jewish Thanksgiving feast. This feast was also a time to remember Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and their subsequent wandering in the wilderness for forty years.
Jesus was teaching in the treasury of the temple in an area called the Court of Women. Jesus tells the crowd, “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 is special significance surrounding the timing and location of this statement.
On the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews held a ceremony called the “Illumination of the Temple”. Four candelabra were lit in the Court of Women that were bright enough to illuminate all of Jerusalem. The purpose of this ceremony was to remind the Jewish people of how God led the Israelites out of the wilderness with a pillar of fire. Jesus was now here to lead the Israelites, and the world, out of the wilderness of sin and to salvation. Teaching this message at this exact location and time, during the Feast of Tabernacles, would have conveyed a message that all Jews would have understood.
“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).
Investigational Resources: The story of how God led the Israelites out of the wilderness with a pillar of fire can be found in Exodus 13:21.
Officer Safety Principle: Are you ready to follow Jesus out of the wilderness and into the light of life?
from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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