Tag Archives: light of the world

The Lamp on the Stand Mark 4:21-23



21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Mark 4:21-23 (NIV)

Horsham: 14th April 2023

2000 years ago, the world was a much darker place. No streetlamps. No electric lights. No light pollution. When the sun sank below the horizon, the only light came from the moon and the stars. On a cloudy evening, the darkness was intense. Those of us who have lived most of our lives in cities rarely experience that kind of darkness.

Inside a house or building there might be some flickering light from a fire, but the only other light would come from an oil lamp.  The ‘lamp’ in question would have been a rather smoky oil lamp – basically a small clay dish and  wick. These small lamps provided only a very dim light – barely enough to find your way around a room, but 2000 years ago, they were invaluable. They were a light in dark world.

The image is timeless.  A lamp is intended to give light. Even in our world of electric lights, we recognise the absurdity of covering a light with a large bucket or putting it under the bed. Some people never got past that simple image.

How are we to understand this parable?

12 When Jesus spoke to them again, 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 (NIV)

Jesus is the light of the world. A light of such brilliance and power that it reaches into every crevice and corner, overpowering all shadow and darkness.

The light of Jesus is not to be hidden from the world. As Christians, we carry something of His light within us (2 Corinthians 4:6) and we are sent into the world with a purpose. Keeping the light of Christ to ourselves would be like hiding it under a bushel. Our very purpose is to carry the light of Christ into a darkened world.

14 “You are the light of the world.”        Matthew 5:14 (NIV)

So I’ve been reflecting on this simple, familiar parable.

It seems to me that even the smallest of lights will be amplified when it comes together with others. As we gather in our Churches, it can be like a whole bunch of clay lamps shining together. We hope and pray that together we will reflect the light of Christ into our communities, overcoming the darkness. We love those moments of encouragement – being together, worshipping together, basking in the light of Christ together. But that is only part of the story.

We live in a world which is spiritually every bit as dark as Palestine 2000 years ago. Maybe darker. This verse is a call to mission in a world in need.

He is the light of the world. Each of us carries a flickering part of his light within us as we move in His world. This light – His light – is not given to be hidden away. It needs to be brought out into the open and set on a stand where everyone can see it. That’s a challenge for all of us.

Wouldn’t it be disappointing if we shied away from the challenge. Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if we were coming together as His people, and then inadvertently keeping the light of Christ’s saving grace hidden beneath the roofs of our Churches.

Now, think on.

If anyone has ears to hear,” says Jesus, “let them hear.”

Richard Jackson, West Sussex: LifePictureUK