Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
One of my favorite things to see when we went to Greenfield Village (http://www.thehenryford.org/village/index.aspx) was the Thomas Edison section with the light bulb – I believe it is the longest lasting light bulb.
The modern world is an electrified world. The light bulb, in particular, profoundly changed human existence by illuminating the night and making it hospitable to a wide range of human activity. The electric light, one of the everyday conveniences that most affects our lives, was invented in 1879 by Thomas Alva Edison. He was neither the first nor the only person trying to invent an incandescent light bulb.
Light has one main purpose: to shine! When Jesus said that man does not light a candle and put it under a bushel, he was referring to their boat-like lamp that had a wick floating in the oil. Once they lit it, they did not let the wick go out because they did not have matches to relight it. So, when they left home, they covered it with a bushel, which is an earthen vessel shaped like a basket. For safety’s sake this was put over the light to keep it burning, allowing enough air to circulate under it until they returned home. (Dr. Raymond Barber, Don’t Look Now, Your Religion Is Showing, pg. 16)
A person would not light a candle then immediately cover it. They would light it on a lamp stand in order to give off as much light as possible. Just like a light that is lit and on a candle stand, or a lighted city set on a high hill for all travelers to see, we are to be that kind of light.
Light does not call attention to itself. It shines the light on others around it. When you enter a dark room and flip on the switch, the light shines on everything in the room, not just the light fixture itself. Lights don’t call attention to themselves; they just shine. You and I should not call attention to ourselves, but just shine (Dr. Barber, pg. 18)
There is no horn that sounds from the light bulb when you turn it on…if you light bulb is making noise when it turns on, it is a sign that something is wrong!
In the next three posts, we will be looking at reasons why we should “turn on the light.”
THE COMMAND OF DEITY
First of all, we are Commanded by the Son to let our light shine. By the way - Jesus said it, and that should settle it!
This was one of the greatest compliments Jesus could give His disciples. Why? Well, Jesus said in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” So, by Jesus telling them they were the light of the world, He was intending them to be a lot like Him.
Now, some would see this as a contradiction. If Jesus is the light of the world, than how can we be the light, as well? Think about how the sun and the moon work together – the sun is light of day and the moon light of the night that reflects the light from the sun. It is in this same way that Jesus commands us to be the light of the world. We are to be a reflection of the light of Jesus.
His command was not for us to shine, but for our light to shine. The focus is not on us or about us, but to be a reflection of the light of Jesus Christ.
Also, we are Commanded by the Scriptures to let our light shine.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 13:9, “The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.” A great commentator of old, Albert Barnes, has this to say on the subject - Note also the distinction between the “light” and the “lamp.” The righteous ones have the true light in them. That which belongs to the wicked is only derived and temporary, and even that shall be extinguished before long.
There is a difference between a light and a lamp. Both illuminate, but only one will last. A lamp can be put out, but a true light source will always shine.
This reminds me of Proverbs 24:20, “For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.”
A person can have a light, but it can be a false light. True light shines from within, and is an Eternal Light because it is a reflection of the Eternal Son.