“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “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.
Have you been one waiting on Jesus to come back? Are you looking at the world around you and saying to yourself, “Anytime now, Lord”? I recently saw a meme with the caption, “Looking out my window to see what chapter of Revelation we’re living this week.” I think that capture what many Christians are thinking. This world is done messed up. Jesus can appear at anytime and He would be welcome. But would He?
This morning, as I was sitting in an in-person church service (gasp!) I was listening to a message based on John 14:1-6. The Preacher read verses 4-6. His focus was on Thomas’ response to Jesus’ statement, “You know where I am going”, which was “Lord we don’t know where you are going.” Rather than address the context of the passage, we went on to a message about ignorance, and why there is no excuse for it. I was more curious about why Thomas would answer Jesus like that. I was far more curious about why Jesus said what He did, because, It’s Jesus!
I believe as Christians we ought to be a little more interested in what Jesus said and did in the Bible. Whenever Jesus speaks or Jesus acts, that ought to get our attention. I also believe we are far too jaded, and we are addicted to sound bytes and meme culture. Just take the picture above. “You are the light of the world, and a city set on a hill cannot be hid.” Jesus said those words. Jesus departed the Heavenly Places, put on flesh and became an infant, grew up like an ordinary person, to stand on a hillside and say these words. Jesus always spoke with purpose and decision. These are not random words, nor words you can just post on a billboard and walk away. This is Jesus. This is something. You don’t have to wait for the Day of Judgment to meet Him. He’s right here! He is speaking. All we need to do is listen.
So what is He saying here?
His explanation is in verse 16: “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.” That is what “You are the light of the world” means. Light means good works. Light is obvious and can be seen for miles. But the kind of light He was talking about wasn’t flood lights or any kind of electric light. He refers in verse 15 to lighting a lamp with the potential of being able to block it with a basket. So the kind of light He is referring to is something everyone where would have been familiar with, lamplight.
If your city set on a hill, it would be obvious both during the day, and during the night. With all of those lamps during the night, you can easily see the city through the lights in the windows because the lamps give light to all who are in the houses.
But why use this analogy of light? I want to draw your attention to the kinds of light he uses as examples: the lights of a city at night, the light of a lamp in a house. Both kinds of light are welcoming and represent safety. When you are out in the field after dark, you look for the lights of the city to guide your way home. If you are in a dark house and you need to do something, you light a lamp to make everything visible. You won’t stub your toe when you can see where you are going.
So when we are the “light of the world” He isn’t talking about sunlight, but the kind of light that guides people home, and throws light into dark spaces. Think about how our good works, or examples of mercy and righteousness do both of those things. Do you do your good works in such a way that is persuasive, invitational, and prompts people to want to follow you “home”? Do your good works throw light in dark situations, like a workplace, the marketplace, or your family?
Pay attention. Jesus is speaking. What He has to say is important. Don’t dash off get busy, but stay a while. Listen. Hear. You don’t have to wait for the “end of days” for Jesus. He is right here, right now, speaking to you.
Dear Lord, I need this kind of patience, this kind of attention because my life gets so busy. I feel like I have a million things to do, and no time to do them. But I need to sit at your feet. I need to listen. I need to act on what I have learned, once I have learned it. Help me Lord to be present when You are speaking. In Your Name I pray, Amen.