Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by GMC
Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”John 8:12
Water and Light in the Temple
In the beginning, when the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:1-3). As light illuminated the waters of the deep in the cosmic temple, light illuminated the waters of salvation in the Jerusalem temple.
When Jesus came to the royal city to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths or Sukkot) for the last time, he claimed to be both the source of living water and the light of the world.
Torches of Illumination
Every morning during this seven-day harvest festival, priests poured water from the Pool of Siloam (Shiloach) with the wine libations on the altar. During the night before the water-drawing, four young priests-in-training lit four giant torches in the women’s court (see illustrations from the Temple Institute). Bearing heavy jars of oil on their backs, the youths climbed ladders to the top of the 75-foot-tall golden candelabra. To the boisterous sound of merrymaking below, they lit wicks made from worn-out priestly garments, illuminating the entire city of Jerusalem. According to Tractate Sukkah 5, “There was not a court in Jerusalem that was not illuminated,” and “A woman could pick wheat by this light.” Like the nocturnal pillar of fire in the desert, the mammoth menorahs pierced the darkness.
During the all-night celebrations of the Simchat Beit HaShoeva (“happiness of the house of water drawing”), musicians, dancers, jugglers, and acrobats delighted the crowd. God’s people rejoiced in the spirit of Isaiah’s prophecy: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3, ESV). At daybreak, priests drew water from the spring of Siloam and performed the libation ceremony of water and wine at the altar.
Christ Fulfills the Feast of Tabernacles
Against this backdrop, Jesus declared that all the feasts and ceremonies of the Jerusalem Temple culminated in his person.
Rivers of Living Water
On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says:
‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’”
He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive.
Light of the World
Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind
In illustration of this truth, Christ opened the eyes of a man born blind who washed in the Pool of Siloam (which means “Sent”) at his command (John 9:7). The Son of Man, sent by God, satisfies the thirsty with living water and illumines the darkness (John 4:10; Isaiah 9:1(2)).
Water and Wine
During Passover the following spring, Jesus expired on the cross at Golgotha to fulfill the Father’s will from the beginning. On the altar of the world, blood and water gushed forth from his side, pierced with a lance (John 19:34). On every Eucharistic altar of the Church, the priest prays by the Light of Christ:
“By the mystery of the water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”