Christianity 201

January 27, 2015

Light of the World; Light to the World

Light of the World - Sermon on the Mount

At the blog One in Jesus, Jay Guin is tracking through the Sermon on the Mount (SOTM) with some deep insights into how listeners to Jesus would have understood his words. I encourage you to click the link of the title below for today’s thoughts, and then find your way to the beginning of the series and perhaps commit to follow through the three chapters. (We promise to still be here when you get back.)

SOTM: Matthew 5:14-16 (Light)

(Mat 5:14-16 ESV) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

This passage is clearly parallel with the preceding verse on the salt of the earth. But now Jesus is less cryptic, explaining his metaphor in some detail.

As is so often the case, Jesus is referring back to the prophets –

(Isa 42:6-7 ESV) 6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

God promises Israel that they will be “a light for the nations” if they’ll respond to his call.

(Isa 58:3-10 ESV) 3 “‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’

“Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. 4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?

6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

8 “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’

“If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”

The prophets use “light” in two senses — which are the same sense. To be a “light for the nations” surely means an example of the goodness of following God that will draw the nations to God.

“Then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom as the noonday” refer to having abundant happiness because of God’s blessings. If you serve those in need, God will make you so blessed that you’ll shine like a beacon in darkness.

And so how will God draw the nations? By the joy and blessedness of those who follow him — as they serve the needy and oppressed.

Sound familiar? The Kingdom (or as we like to say, the church) will live in community in such a way that the world will be drawn to enter the Kingdom by professing loyalty to (faith in) the King (Jesus). This life will have many joyous, attractive features. Among them will be —

to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke … to share [their] bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into [their] house; when [they] see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own [fellow subjects of the King] …  [to] pour [themselves] out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted

He’s talking about the church. Really. And if the church would be true to its mission, it would shine like a city on a hill.

Last point (for today). “You are the light of the world” is not a command but a statement of fact. Jesus’ disciples are all the light that there is. Yes, it’s Jesus’ light shining through them, but if they don’t shine, they’ve hidden the light of Jesus under a basket.

So for those of us looking for the secret to successful evangelism, it’s not a tract or a training program or a sales pitch. It’s a state of being. It’s being light.

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