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Parables of Jesus: Part 1
Matthew 5:14-16, Mark 4:21-22, Luke 8:16-17, Luke 11:33-36 - Let your light shine to guide the lost and purge the darkness
““You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 NASB1995
“And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.””
Mark 4:21-23 NASB1995
““Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”
Luke 8:16-17 NASB1995
““No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.””
Luke 11:33-36 NASB1995
This devotional starts a new series examining more of the parables of Jesus. I did a Series on the parables that are unique to the Gospel of Luke back in 2022. This second series will pick up the remaining parables that are in Matthew, Mark and Luke (but not unique to Luke). The Gospel of John has no parables recorded, but has analogies and stories like the “I Am” series. A reference list I am using for this new series is in order for the appearance of the parable in the Gospel of Matthew (unless it is unique to Mark and Luke). As noted, the ones unique to Luke have already been examined. For completeness, here is the list, which is from a Bible Study resource on Pinterest; it seemed as good as most of the others I found and I like the order that it follows:
The first parable that I am tackling is in all three synoptic Gospels, which is about a light that is not hidden but put on a lamp stand. In Matthew, this parable is part of the Sermon of the Mount in Chapter 5 (something else I have also done for Heaven on Wheels is a series about that Sermon). A similar parable is in Mark chapter 4 and the lesson is so good that Luke records it twice, in Luke 8 and Luke 11. There are also some differences in the intent of the parable in Mark and Luke, especially in Luke 11.
Matthew talks about the light illuminating a room and shining before men so that they can see your good works and glorify God in Heaven. Mark and Luke describe the light as revealing the things that have been hidden and Luke also describes the light (in chapter 11) that comes from within us when our eyes are clear and to make sure that the light we show is not darkness. I like this Commentary in Precept Austin about the light described in Matthew, also referenced by Paul in Philippians (links go to Precept Austin):
Paul also alludes to the believer's call to be the light of the world in his letter to the saints at Philippi writing:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world holding fast to the Word of life (see notes Philippians 2:14; 2:15)
Note carefully that neither Jesus nor Paul tell us to be searchlights or spotlights but [be] like lights in lighthouses in the dark spiritual night of this world and that by so doing we might prevent tragic shipwreck[s] and eternal loss of some who have eyes to see the light of Christ! How is the light in your lighthouse shining? Remember that we are not here to get used to the dark but to shine as lights.
The eye is a fascinating organ and when exposed to a dark room will gradually adjust so that it sees more in the darkness. That is good physiology but it makes for bad spirituality. Dear believer, watch what you watch in this world, lest you get more comfortable with the darkness.
The analogy of a light house is very apt, I believe, for how a Christian shines their light in the world. I also found the admonition about not letting your spiritual “eyes” get comfortable with the spiritual darkness in this world to be quite compelling (unlike your physical eyes, which can adapt to physical darkness).
We cannot keep the Good News secret, but must light the lights of the Gospels so that they can be seen by those who are lost and are nearing the dangerous shoals and reefs of the traps, sins and temptations of this world, guiding them to the safe harbors of His salvation.
Enduring Word has similar commentaries for Mark 4:21-23 and Luke 8:16-17 (the excerpt is for the Mark commentary):
Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
There is nothing hidden which will not be revealed: By its very nature, light is meant to be revealed. Truth is the same way, and God promises that it will be revealed.
But that it should come to light: We must not hide this light. If you have the truth of God, you have a solemn responsibility to spread that truth in whatever way God gives you opportunity. It is just as someone who has the cure for a life-threatening disease has the moral responsibility to spread that cure. God didn’t light your lamp so that it would remain hidden.
If you had the cure for all cancers, would you keep it secret? That’s a good question and you DO have the cure for what truly ails this world through the Word of our Lord.
Although the first part of the passage in Luke 11:33-36 talks about not hiding your light (similar to the other passages), the second part of this parable is important and unique because Jesus is warning the hypocrites. Enduring Word, once again, has great commentary on part of this passage:
The lamp of the body is the eye: Even as a bad eye will make a person blind, so bad hearts will make one spiritually blind. One must be spiritually blind to attribute Jesus’ miracles to Satan and to ignore the work of Jesus right before the eyes or to live as a hypocrite.
When one lives in darkness, there are two possible reasons why. There may be no light source, or the darkness may be within – the inability to perceive light. When Jesus warned, take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness, He warned against the darkness within.
“We see by life and character, by all that we have made ourselves, by every secret sin that we have cherished, by every battle we have fought and won.” (George Morrison)
“If you do not see Jesus, it is not because he has hidden himself in darkness, but because your eyes are blinded.” (Charles Spurgeon)
“If any of my readers are like that – if they see the Carpenter but cannot see the Lord – let me ask them, tenderly and quietly, What kind of life have you been living?” (George Morrison)
If the darkness comes from within a man and prevents him from seeing the light of Jesus, it doesn’t matter how bright and glorious Jesus is – he can’t see it. “A man without an eye might as well be without the sun, so far as light is concerned.” (Charles Spurgeon)
“Do you wonder that our Lord seemed to hold up his hands in astonishment as he said, ‘If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!’ If that which should lead misleads, how misled you will be! If your better part turns out to be evil, how evil must you be!” (Charles Spurgeon)
So many today are blind to the light of Jesus, whether through ignorance or stubborn willfulness. I once stumbled around in darkness, mocking the tiny light that intruded in my thoughts that was like a match seen across a darkened football field. But the Good Shepherd used that light, making it brighter and brighter, to bring me into His Glory and to safe harbor in His fields. We cannot sit on the sidelines, cursing the darkness, but must find a way to shine our lights so that others can be saved!
My next devotional examines the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders, found in Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:47-49.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
In place of my own prayer, I offer up the words to a wonderful hymn as found on Precept Austin; Pray on these words!
Send out a Light by Mary Bernstecher:
Send out a light as you go your way,
A beacon of hope when shadows are gray;
Send out a light that for Jesus will shine,
Proving to others God’s mercy divine.
Send out a light, a radiant light,
That will pierce thro’ the gloom
Of someone’s dark night,
Send out a light, a bright beaming light,
Send out a light for Jesus.
Send out a light when your burdens press,
And show to the world that Jesus will bless;
Thro’ darkest sorrows and bitterest pain,
Send out a light—it will not shine in vain.
Send out a light unto those who stray,
All heedless along destruction’s highway;
Point them to pathways of purer delight,
And let your life daily send out a light.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Precept Austin testimony of faith is found at this Link.
Commentary by David Guzik in Enduring Word is used with written permission.