Bringing Light To A Dark World
“You are the light of the world.” vs. 14a
Welcome One Another
1st – For 30 seconds I want you to greet one another like you barely know one another and like you really don’t want to be bothered with talking to them and that you are really for someone better to talk to.
2nd – For 30 seconds greet one another like you are meeting your best friend and you haven’t seen them for ages and you are just thrilled to see them.
What was that like for you? What did you happening? What did you hear?
We bring our personality, feelings, emotions, enthusiasm, etc. to our conversations and to the people we connect with. I know I feel that I can hide those things sometimes but really people can feel those things in us and we don’t hide things as well as we think we do. Today we are continuing our look at The Sermon On The Mount and Jesus words for us to live by. If you are able, would you please stand as we read God’s Word; Matthew 5:14-16:
Read Passage – Matthew 5:14-16
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
The Light Metaphor
Jesus touches on an important theme in Biblical writings: light. It is used many times to compare and contrast. Here are a few examples where the Bible uses this metaphor:
God and evil forces (Satan)
Jesus and Satan
Good and evil
Believers and unbelievers (the world)
Heaven and hell A note: In heaven we don’t need light because God is Light and in him there is no darkness. And hell is said to be eternal darkness; the lack of light (God).
So, since there are so many metaphors about light and it is mentioned so much, it must be important and therefore significant. So, let’s take a closer look at what Jesus is talking about.
What Not To Do With Light
First, we should note that since it is a significant metaphor that God repeats to us many times, what should we avoid or not do with that light. We are warned about his in verse 14b-15a:
“A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.” vs. 14b – 15a
Jesus is using the metaphor of light for the people because it is something they are all familiar with, and actually, we are too. Look around at where we are right now, all the light that is part of our lives. To put this in more modern terms, Jesus is saying; You don’t turn on a flashlight and them put it under your bed, or You don’t tune on a light and then leave the room (unless you’re a teenager of course and you don’t pay the PG&E bill). J Light is something we all deal with and can all relate to.
In Jesus audience, there lives were different than ours when it comes to light. They didn’t have electricity to just turn lights on and off. They were more dependent on natural light and candles. In the example Jesus uses, first he talks about a city that is on a hill and you can’t really hide it. They were living in a place where the Roman lifestyle was always in front of them. One of the more significant things the Romans brought to their cities were the many temples and shrines they built to their gods. Most of the buildings were made of limestone. People could see the buildings on a hill like the Parthenon or the Temple of Diana. These limestone buildings absorbed the light all day long and it penetrated the stone so that as the sun went down, they appeared to glow. They also reflected the moonlight and you could see these buildings almost all night long. They got this picture because it was right in front of them everyday.
Also, since they had no electricity, light in the form of candles and torches were important because without them, they would have nothing to light their homes so you might as well go to bed because it was dark. You wouldn’t waste your candles because they were valuable and important so the idea of lighting one and putting under a bowl was ridiculous, it was a waste.
We don’t really have this as much anymore because we have light on all around us.
Ex. 40 years ago you could go from Brentwood to Antioch to Oakley to Pittsburg, etc, and the towns were distinct because in between the towns it was dark. Now the towns run together and you don’t know when you leave one town and enter another. But think about all the lights we leave on during a night.
The Light In You
So Jesus is using this theme of light because everyone gets it and he takes it a step further by telling them that they are light. That’s how he starts this passage. How is that? I think Jesus helps us get this in another passage we find in John 8:
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12
Remember one of the metaphors we mentioned earlier was that Jesus is light and it’s in contrast to Satan who is the Prince of Darkness. What Jesus is saying is that HE is the light and we have that same light in us if we accept him. We are a living demonstration of the arrival of the kingdom of heaven and of God. Our light is the light that Jesus brings to our lives.
The moon, it doesn‘t have light in and of itself, its light is a reflection of the sun. SO Jesus is the sun/son and we are moon reflecting that light, so to speak.
The Important Properties of Light
For us to really grasp what Jesus is saying here, we take this idea of us having light and reflecting the light of Jesus and then see what I looks like in our lives. We can get this by looking at the important properties of light and how they reflect in our everyday walk.
First, light is something that reveals what is there. In the case of our spiritual lives, it reveals our sin and helps us life in a way that is best for us because God always has our best in mind. In 1 Cor. 4:5 Paul wrote:
“He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” 1 Cor. 4:5
We have things in us that are not good for us and hinder us from living a joyful fulfilling life. God brings those things to light and helps us see those things that harm and hinder us. Another word for this is illuminate.
Ex. I was moving a piece of wood this week. I got a splinter. I knew it was there, I could feel it and it was uncomfortable but it was hard to see. So what I did was go outside where there was more light and it allowed me to see the splinter. I was then able to get it out. As long as that splinter was in there, my hand didn’t feel right and it was uncomfortable working. Once it was out, I was good to go again my hand felt right.
Light is important because it reveals. Job put it well when he was talking with his “friends” in Job 12:22:
“He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light.” Job 12:22
God’s light reveals those things in us that need to be removed and that darkness is replace with his light.
When those things that don’t need to be there are gone, we are now open for a second property of light to work and that is light that guides us. David wrote in Psalm 119:105:
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
God’s ways are the best way for us and when we live in his path that his light guides us in, we find the peace and joy that god wants for us and desires us to have. God sets our life up for good. His plan for us is for good, not for harm, to give us a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). He is faithful to that and will not change. We change, we disobey, we wander but He is faithful. Psalm 43:3:
“Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me…” Psalm 43:3
His light lives in us to lead us and guide us.
We have a saying that helps us understand this. “Light at the end of the tunnel.” The example would be when you are in a dark place and need something to guide you and give you hope. The littlest of lights can give you that. God promises us so much more. I experienced this at black Diamond mines. We went 1200 feet into a cave and it was pitch black. No light. On the way back out it was a relief and reassuring the minute you could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Light gives you hope and assurance.
And that is where the third property of light comes in, light displaces darkness. John 1:5 says:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
Light penetrates darkness and it does not work the other way. A more true definition of darkness is the absence of light. John tells us that Jesus comes into a dark world and shines and that the darkness cannot overcome it. That light now live s in us and we reflect Jesus light, so get this, darkness cannot overcome you. The light in you is stronger and any darkness in the world. Because we have God’s light that reveals sins and because we have God’s light ath leads us, we can be a light that displaces the darkness in the world.
Ex. The light on the alarm in our hallway and how it illuminates the hallway at night.
Wherever we go, whatever we do, we go as light. Remember that exercise I had you do at the beginning, didn’t you feel better, happier, even more comfortable when you were bringing joy and excitement to the greeting? Sure. You live in choice and you can bring that kind of light to a hurting, frustrated, dark world. In 2 Samuel 22 David sings a song of praise to God and in verse 29 he says:
“You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” 2 Samuel 22:29
God brings light to our lives and in turn we bring light to our world.
Ex. Bringing a smile to people’s faces
Here is a story I found that I think illustrates the point really well. It’s from a professor who was teaching in Portland Oregon in the 1980’s and 90’s.
On a cold winter morning in 1979, I witnessed an unusual incident. For several weeks the newspaper had been announcing that Portland, Oregon, would be in the direct path of a solar eclipse. Scientists explained that the moon would pass between the earth and the sun, casting the moon’s dark shadow over Portland for approximately three minutes. On February 26th, the day of the eclipse, I went to my office as usual. But just before the solar eclipse I went out to the front porch of the seminary administration building; there on the crest of a small hill I had a marvelous view of the city sloping toward the downtown business district. Suddenly, as expected, the sky began to darken—though much more quickly than at sunset. In a few more moments, the city of Portland became as dark as night. Just as suddenly as the darkness had come, something else happened—something I had not anticipated. Thousands of street lights around the city began to blink on dispelling the darkness of the eclipse. Although the sky was as dark as on any night, everywhere I looked lights were shining.
J. K. Laney, Kindred Spirit, Spring, 1990, p. 8
The opening exercise was meant to challenge you. What do you bring to your world? Hesus started this passage with:
“You are the light of the world.” vs. 14a
His light should make a difference in our life. It’s our choice to live in that light or we could be in danger of hiding it under a bowl as Jesus said. What do you want people to feel from you? You have the choice to bring God’s light to your world; his generous, loving, accepting, giving, and freeing light. You reflect that light of Jesus in you.