When Jesus spoke to the people, he spoke many times in parables. Parables are fictional stories used to portray a truth. Jesus used many parables in his teachings and many of them are familiar to us. Throughout the year, we are going to go on a journey through these parables to discover the meaning and truths behind Jesus’ parables.
I think it would be a good idea to ask the question of why Jesus spoke in parables? Why wouldn’t he just speak plainly so that everyone could understand? Well it turns out that the disciples were wondering this same question and so they asked Jesus why he spoke to them in parables. Jesus gave this response, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them”. Jesus then goes on to talk about how the people he is speaking to cannot understand because their hearts have become hard. The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom has been given to those who hear and believe. This conversation comes right after the parable of the sower which we will discuss at a later time. Jesus says that he speaks in parables because they do not believe him so he does not give them truths plainly that they don’t want to hear in the first place. Now that we have a better understanding of the reasoning behind parables in general, let’s dive in to the first one.
The Lamp on a Stand- Matthew 5:14-16, Mark 4:21-22, Luke 8:16-17; 11:33-36
This parable occurs in all 3 synoptic gospel accounts but it varies in each one slightly. In Matthew’s account, the focus is on letting our light shine because we are the light in the world. Our light is our actions, words, and thoughts. When we allow ourselves to shine and to be a light to the darkness that is around us, we are spreading God’s kingdom to others. Our good deeds are not to be for our own glory but for the praise of the Father.
Mark and Luke have a slightly different focus. Mark and Luke focus on things that are hidden and concealed. “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open” (Mark 4:22). The truth about life and death and Jesus needs to be revealed and brought out into the open. Truth is often closely related with light. Therefore, if the truth is hidden, it needs to be told to all and this is why Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. We are to bring the truth to those around us, we need to bring the light into the darkness. Luke goes a little bit further and talks about the eyes being good and bad. What Jesus is saying here is that we do not need more light if we are in the darkness. What we need to do is have good eyes in order to let in the light. In other words, change the way we think and perceive the world and allow the light of Christ to enter our mind and spirit.
This parable is so much more than just doing good things and being a light. It’s about participating in the spreading of God’s kingdom and allowing the light of Christ to change and transform our lives.