When the design of a church logo was contemplated, the decision was made to illustrate a phrase that has been with us since the early days of this work: “Jesus the Light of the World.” This phrase was first displayed in 1917 as an electric sign on our church building at Front and Burnside. When the Tabernacle was built in 1921, it featured the same words. Today, more than eighty years later, it is still there. When the headquarters church was moved to Sixth and Burnside in 1922, the same message was displayed on top of the new building, and it was proclaimed from that spot for about sixty years. Its position at the heart of downtown Portland made it a well-known landmark. Through the years, branch churches in many locations around the world have chosen to display the same heart-warming message.
Darken your classroom and have a single candle (or flashlight) burning when your students enter. Point out how bright it looks in the darkness. Jesus is a bright spiritual light (maybe show a large, strong flashlight). He is so bright that some people do not want Him to shine on their lives and show the sin.
Ask your students, “What was the scariest moment you ever had in the dark? Have you ever been in the dark and stumbled around because you couldn’t see?” After getting their responses, say, “Darkness causes lots of problems—some funny, some very serious. John, in writing his Gospel, used the illustration of darkness and light to explain the importance of Jesus’ coming to earth….”
Light of Hope 041 – Dave Anderson’s Testimony, “A Change of Direction”
Give each student a numbered sheet of paper. Set timer for two minutes. Have them list as many names of Jesus as they can think of. Cross off items anyone else had. Winner is person with highest number of unique words. (Alternatively, have them list what Jesus does for us: saves, heals, comforts, instructs, etc.)
Give students a paper with letters A – Z down left side. Have them write words describing Jesus.
Bring in several sources or pictures of sources of light. Have students identify the purpose of each. Next, have students explain how Christ functions in a similar capacity. Some examples:
Sun: Is the source of life for all things living on earth. (Christ provides resurrection/life for all men.)
Porch light: Serves as a beacon to help us find home
Campfire/fireplace: Provides warmth and comfort
Lighthouse: Protects from dangers
Flashlight: Defines a safe path
Nightlight: Banishes darkness and eliminates fear
Match with candles: Light can be shared or given to others
Car headlights: Let us know where we are heading
Tail-lights in a fog: A guide that can be followed
Post many posters, drawings, and pictures of Jesus around the room. Put a small number in the corner of each. As students arrive, encourage them to go around the “Jesus Gallery” and write a word that describes each of the pictures in the room. Ask the students to hang onto their cards, but to add other words to their list as your class time progresses. At the end of your session, post or write all the descriptive words about Jesus in a life-size outline of Jesus with outstretched arms that you have outlined on butcher paper and taped to one wall.