“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14, KJV.
“And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light” (Mark 4:21-22, ESV).
Throughout the gospels Jesus used parables to illustrate the hidden mysteries of the Kingdom to come, but this precious truth was not revealed to all. Jesus spoke in parables, that used simple teachings to uncover profound truths. For it was the little childrenthat Jesus used for His disciples become like. “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17, KJV). When I think of a young child, I am reminded of their innate joy and ability to both trust and forgive. Children carry qualities of innocence, humility, and of course great faith. All characteristics that allow for God to bring spiritual discernment and a broader understanding to. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27, NKJV).
In the parable of the lampstand, Jesus was speaking to an audience (during a time) who valued the use and purpose of an oil lamp. These types of lamps were not simply used as means of décor, only to be stationed at a bedside table. Instead, they were formed from clay and carried throughout the house. These lamps used costly and pure oils to fan a flame and heat a home. Anders states, that during the first century in the middle east “people used very small oil lamps which could easily fit under a small bowl. But the idea of lighting a lamp and putting it under a bowl is absurd. Not only would it be a waste of light, but it would also be a waste of oil” (Noren, Anders. Truth Applied, 2021). Similarly, just like the lamp followers of Jesus should be bold and open to profess their faith. Thus, contending for the oil to keep burning and shinning bright for all to see your “good works,” so that all can bring glory to your Father in Heaven. Our lives bare witness when we put into practice what scripture teaches, such as: pray without ceasing, give generously, forgive without reproach, love unconditionally, bearing one another’s burdens etc.
Lastly in the gospel of Mark 4, the parable of the lampstand takes on a different angle and heeds a warning to believers: “For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.” This is a reminder for our need to take account, knowing that how we live will reap consequences, and what we do in “secret” will be made known. “The word “secret” (musterion) can be translated to mean mystery, and not commonly known truth. Instead, it refers to God’s truth that was previously hidden but now has been revealed” (Stott, Jeff. Mark 4:21-25: Parable of the Lamp, 2020). I also appreciate what Jeff Stott stated, “a lamp doesn’t try to expose sin. It naturally reveals what’s in the room. It shows what’s in the darkness. As you live for God and as you share His Word you will naturally expose sin. You will reveal what is in the darkness” (Stott, 2020). Just as the Word convicts us of sin in our own lives, the truth provides for the change that is needed to turn. As we know, believers cannot shine in the flesh, but through His indwelling Spirit that captivates and transforms our inner being to reflect Him.
The Oil: The Oil is symbolic to our time spent in the Presence of the Holy Spirit.It is practice and discipline that must be maintained. The Oil is refreshed and purified when we are in communion with Him. For we cannot reflect His light if we are not refined and renewed with the new oil.
The Basket: Baskets are often used to hold or carry items. However, in this case, they held a negative connotation. The basket in this parable was used to snuff out the light. Thereby limiting one’s influence or even shortening one’s lifespan to be effective for the Kingdom. To combat this threat, believers need to be aware of their own baskets that could be limiting their witness. These basket coverings act as weapons and try to short circuit one’s assignment through the use of disappointment, weariness, spiritual attacks, people etc.
The Light: Jesus is our representation and beholder of the light. He is the light and the oil. However, he has commissioned his sons and daughters to be salt and light in the world and represent Him.
The Stand: Stands were needed in times of old, so that light could illuminate an entire room. Similarly, one’s faith must stand firm, proving to be true and tested in all seasons. Not only must we build strength, but we must continue to stand firm. Believers must occupy all positions of high and low regard, never to chase a title but simply to spread the name of Jesus and bring others to Him.
~Mindi Oaten Art
Randy, Bushey. Parables: To Enlighten, to conceal. 2016.
Jeff, Stott. Mark 4:21-25: The Parable of the Lamp. Truth Applied, 2020.