Jesus frequently used parables as a way of teaching His disciples how to live godly lives. We have already discussed 3 such parables that dealt with righteous money management and good stewardship. In our previous message, we studied a parable that emphasized the importance of obedience to the Lord’s commands in both word and deed. As we continue our journey through “The Parables of Jesus” this morning, we will examine a widely-known illustration that instructs us to shine the light of Jesus openly.
In terms of its inclusion on our list of parables, “The Parable of the Lamp under a Bushel” is somewhat unique. It is recorded in some form or fashion in all 3 synoptic gospels - Matthew, Mark, and Luke - but often reads more like an analogy than a parable. An analogy is a simple comparison between 2 things such as “You are the light of the world”, where as a parable is an actual narrative story. In Luke’s gospel this teaching is presented twice, both times in the form of a short illustration which describes a fictional character with a lamp. For this reason, it is generally considered to be a parable and therefore, is the subject of our sermon today.
The comparison of darkness and light is found on numerous occasions throughout Scripture, even outside the gospels. It is a fairly common Biblical theme. In Matthew, Jesus spoke about “the salt and the light” during the famous Sermon on the Mount. In Mark’s account, Jesus shared this illustration and a few other parables with His disciples after having taught large crowds by the sea earlier that day. In Luke 8 and again sometime later in Luke 11 Jesus taught this parable to large crowds of people as He traveled from village to village.
Jesus told “The Parable of the Lamp under a Bushel” repeatedly and in various forms to emphasize different points and teach multiple lessons. The concept of light applies to spiritual truth in several ways. We will explore a few of these this morning.
I. THE LIGHT FILLS - Luke 11:33-36; Matthew 6:22-23
In this rendition of the parable, Jesus tells of a person who takes a lit lamp and places it on a lampstand in the house so that anyone who enters can see. Obviously, he doesn’t place it in the cellar or under a basket, otherwise the light would be prevented from filling the house. The emphasis here is upon the filling nature of the light.
In the verses that follow, Jesus compares the light that fills the house with the light that fills the body. He is talking about the glorious spirit of God that indwells and fills everyone who has accepted Christ. This is accomplished through the presence of the Holy Spirit within the believer. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. In Him resides the fullness of God’s glory in all of its radiant brilliance. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit resides within a person’s life their body is fill internally with the marvelous light of Jesus.
This inner-light allows the Christian to see things more clearly. It illuminates their eyes to view life from a spiritual perspective rather than a worldly one. It allows believers to recognize the value of eternal things over temporal things. Inner-light helps the redeemed understand and appreciate the truths of God more readily. It provides comforting warmth to the human soul. There are numerous ways in which the filling light of Jesus benefits His followers.
II. THE LIGHT EXPOSES - Luke 8:16-17; Mark 4:21-23
As in the previously discussed passage, Jesus again tells of a person who lights a lamp and places it on a lampstand in the house so that all who enter can clearly see. Common sense prevents him from covering it with a container or placing it under the bed where the light would be blocked. Because the light illuminates the room, everything becomes visible. The emphasis in this instance is upon the exposing nature of the light.
In the subsequent verses, Jesus explains that there is nothing secret or hidden that will not become evident or known. The LORD is all-knowing. The light of God reveals everything, even those ugly and unpleasant sins that are often kept private. It exposes all unrighteousness and wickedness, which can lead to shame, embarrassment, and even guilt. Hopefully such revelations eventually result in conviction and repentance, rather than anger and bitterness.
When Christians allow the light of Jesus to shine in and through their lives, not only does it expose their own hidden sins but it discloses those of others. Have you ever seen cockroaches darting for a cracks and crevices when someone turns on the light? The same type of thing often happens when a light-filled believer enters a room filled with unrepentant sinners. It can make them feel uncomfortable, causing them to grow silent and to act differently. While this doesn’t always happen, I’ve seen it take place more than once. Such an occurrence demonstrates the power of light over darkness, and its ability to expose sin.
III. THE LIGHT DRAWS - Matthew 5:14-16
During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches that no one lights a lamp only to hide it under a bushel or basket. On the contrary, they put it on a lampstand in order to provide light for all who are in the house. In this same passage, Jesus also calls His followers “the light of the world” and states that “a city on a hill cannot be hidden”. With these examples, He is emphasizing the visibility of the source of the light.
Jesus urges Christians to let their light shine before men so that others might see their good works and glorify the Father in Heaven. We have already seen that this inner light is not actually our own, but rather comes for the presence of Christ within us. In the same way, our good works are merely a reflection of the Lord’s goodness inside. He is the source of the light. Thus, by allowing it to shine forth from our lives, others will be able to see Jesus in us. His light safely draws those who are lost and searching to Himself.
Jesus also compares His disciples to salt, which is meant to temporarily preserve those who are dying in their sin. The presence of Christians in society delays its eventual decay. Nevertheless, the world is still spiraling toward judgment. Thus, believers must also glow with the light of Jesus for those who are dying to see. The salt and light go together. Just as light in the darkness can be a tremendous source of hope to those who have lost their way, so also Jesus is the only hope for sinners groping in the shadows of life.
In each variation of His parable, Jesus instructs His followers not to hide the light within them - otherwise it cannot fill, expose, or draw as it should. This must mean that people have the ability to shield or prevent the light of Christ from shining as it should. I like to think of each Christian like a dimmer switch. They can shine the Lord’s light fully, not at all, or at any level in between. Our thoughts, behaviors, words, and attitudes can damper the amount of light that radiates out from us.
Jesus urges each of disciples to shine brightly! We must live righteously and openly for the Lord. We must first be filled with the light of Jesus. We must then cast His light to expose the sinful deeds of this world. Finally, we must shine His light so that those living in darkness can see Jesus and be drawn to Him. So… let your light shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine...