On two different accounts Yeshua makes the statement that he is “the light of the world.” John records these two accounts just one chapter apart from each other. The first time, Yeshua tells us:
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)
His second statement is in a different context, but has the same implication as the previous one:
We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:4–5)
What does Yeshua mean by these statements? What is he trying to say? Many times turning to other Jewish writings can help us uncover the deeper meaning behind the Apostolic record, especially Yeshua’s teachings. In this instance, the midrash helps to illuminate the implications behind Yeshua’s words.
First, the Midrash Rabbah comments on a passage in Daniel that says, “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:22). It records an interpretation of this passage that connects it with the Messiah:
R. Abba of Serungayya said: “And the light dwells with him” alludes to the royal Messiah. (B’reisheet Rabbah 1:6)
Even more telling is a passage from another midrash that connects the light of Isaiah 60 with the primordial light of Creation, and then links the two passages together as a reference to the Messiah: