(Excerpt from “Oh, Taste and See” card #1)
While Jesus lived on Earth, a grand and glorious temple stood in the center of Jerusalem, as the heart of Jewish city life. Within its Court of Women stood four sumptuously-gilded candelabra over 70 feet in height. In the evenings during feast times, a lamp-lighting ceremony reminded the people that God Himself created light and separated it from darkness, just as His presence did for them. Illuminating even the neighborhood courtyards around the temple, the lamps were also burning reminders of God’s guidance of His people by a nightly pillar of fire, ensuring protection from enemies and lighting their path.
Twice Jesus declared Himself to be the Light of the World: once in the temple, to a curious audience of disciples and Pharisees, and a short time later on the south steps of the temple just before miraculously giving the light of sight to a man born blind. Both announcements were signs of His deity. His bold revelation–“I am the light of the world”*–alluded to Isaiah’s prophecy about Him: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”** During every Passover meal the honor of candle lighting belongs to the mother of the house, honoring all women; for it was through Mary that God chose to give us “the light of the nations.”***
*John 8:12, **Isaiah 9:2, ***Isaiah 49:6