“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.” Matthew 5:14-15
It’s fascinating to see what people will do when they think that no one is looking. Every once in a while, especially in this day and age, we get a glimpse of what people are capable of through social media and hidden cameras. Generally speaking, people are less likely to sin when a camera is on them.
Imagine being the woman at the well or being Nathaniel. Here comes Jesus, and He is able to tell them things that only someone who had the ability to know all things could know. All Jesus told Nathaniel is that He saw him under the fig tree, and Nathaniel responds with, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” The woman at the well becomes an evangelist and declares to people that Jesus was able to tell her “all that she has ever done.”
Imagine the vulnerability they felt. Here they were minding their own business when, all of a sudden, there comes a man who sees them. He knows what they do in secret. He knows everything about them. Suddenly they realize something pretty scary; there is no such thing as being in alone as long as Jesus is alive. Little did they know is that there is never an instant that they are alone because Jesus sees them at all times.
Jesus is the Light. The Bible is pretty clear about that.
Jesus, Himself, declares this truth over and over again.
Jesus said in John 8:12,
Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And in John 12:35-37,
So, Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light,so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”
In Matthew 5:14 Jesus looks at His disciples and says to them that they are the light of the world.
He tells them that they ARE the light of the world. He doesn’t tell them that they should be the light or that they should shine more brightly, but rather that they are already the light. The moment that people believe in the Light (Jesus), they themselves become sons of Light. Of course, believers have no light source in and of themselves. But rather like the moon reflects the sun, we reflect the light of Jesus onto the world around us. We, simply by living holy lives in word and deed, striving to be like our Savior, shine the light of Christ to all the people around us.
The reality is that the world loves the darkness. Like a cockroach that loves the darkness and freaks out when it is exposed to the light, the world hates the light and wants to hide. Of course, I’m not comparing people to cockroaches; okay, maybe just the Pharisees. But the truth is clear when the light is around, people don’t get to do the works that they want to like when the light is off.
Jesus said in John 3:19,
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”
Obviously, Nathaniel, Zacchaeus and the woman at the well, just to name a few, when their sin was exposed responded with humility, repented, and embraced the light. But that was not the only response Jesus encountered. In fact, one might say that the most common response was rejection and hate.
Jesus constantly exposed the Pharisees; He could see their hearts and was regularly reading their thoughts. There are several occasions where Jesus tells them what they are thinking and thus exposing the fact that He could see their evil thoughts. The Pharisees were desperately afraid of the crowd and therefore did not act, but eventually, it got to the point where Jesus had been exposed to such an extent that running and hiding were no longer options. They got put in a corner and eventually decided that enough was enough and came back fighting. The problem was simple—the Light was too bright and they wanted the darkness back.
That’s how sin works; it thrives in the darkness. Like bacteria that needs water to live, sin lives off of darkness and grows exponentially. Whenever believers come along and shine the light of Christ, the world is not going to like it. They will be exposed and they will want to either run and hide or in some cases fight back; they did so with Jesus and they will do so with us (John 15:20).
Just like with salt, there is a risk associated with the role of light-bearers. With salt, it was the risk of losing taste. Next week we will see that with light it is the desire of hiding it and keeping it to ourselves. But in the meantime, we must ask this question:
Are you reflecting the light of Christ on the world around you?
Just like we saw with salt, unbelievers should feel uncomfortable sinning around you. Of course, you shouldn’t be obnoxious and angry, but the fact of the matter is that the world God has placed around you should be triggered by your life and your witness. Either they should despise you for following Christ or want to join you in following Him. That’s what the light does–it lights up darkness every single time.
May we be like lamps filling each room we walk into with light until the moment the Lord takes us home to be with Him.