Another Powerful Aphorism
Text: Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus was a Master-Teacher. He chose His figures of speech cleverly and His statements may be rightly called “aphorisms”. The statements contained powerful truths, yet they were short and simple sentences.
To be “salt of the earth” was indeed a most challenging task. To reinforce this idea, Jesus gave another powerful word.
“You are the light of the world.”
Simple words – but what profound truth was to be found in these statements! Again, we cannot help but notice the fact that Jesus emphasized “Being” and not just “Doing” things. The imagery of “light” emphasizes “Being”.
THE SCOPE OF THE TASK
Twice now Jesus hinted at the scope of the work that He wanted His disciples to consider. They are to be…
“Salt of the earth… and light of the world…”
Jesus’ vision engulfed the entire earth, not just Israel. This truth may not have impacted the minds of the disciples at that point of time. Nevertheless, we must appreciate that from the very beginning, Jesus had the widest scope of the task that He had called His disciples to fulfill.
In order to strengthen the force of this word to His disciples, Jesus employed a most striking illustration.
“A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
The city of Jerusalem may well be in the mind of Jesus as He uttered these words. Jerusalem was a city that was set on a hill. The city was well known for its beautiful Temple! Jerusalem was a city that stood out! What was Jesus saying? Did He really mean that He wanted His disciples to stand out as city stands out? That may have been a difficult thought to fathom and accept. But, yes that was exactly what Jesus meant! The figures chosen… “salt… light… a city that is set on a hill…” conveyed a striking common chord. Jesus meant His disciples to stand out in the world as His followers! Was this a possible goal? If the disciples were to apply faithfully the teachings that Jesus gave to them, then they would stand out indeed!
What a privilege it was to be called to be disciples of Jesus! With that privilege must also be the understanding of the purpose of that calling.
“Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.”
When the householder lights a lamp, he does so with a definite purpose in mind. He will not light a lamp only to put it under a basket. Why would he light the lamp for in the first place? He lights a lamp so that it may fulfil its purpose. The lamp was to give light to the household.
Did the disciples understand why Jesus called them in the first place? He was going to light their lamps. The work that He was doing in their lives may indeed be likened to the lighting of a lamp! Once lit, the lamp must fulfil its purpose! It must shine! Jesus wanted His disciples to SHINE!
A QUICK RECAPITULATION
As Jesus taught, the disciples began to have a clearer picture of what believing in Him really meant.
1. Repentance and salvation
Without a doubt, this was the first concern that must be addressed. Thus Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
2. Cultivation of the Faith and Life via discipleship
The next emphasis was well encapsulated in The Beatitudes. Jesus wanted His disciples to cultivate their faith and life.
3. Shining Forth
The application was both obvious and logical. The true disciple is to shine forth as he was meant to be.
THE CHALLENGE TO SHINE FORTH IN A WORLD OF DARKNESS
Jesus saw the world as one enveloped by darkness. His response was to be The Light of the world. His disciples must also endeavour to shine forth as lights of the world.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they
may see your good works and glorify Your Father in heaven.”
Now we see Jesus picking up on the “Doing” part of discipleship. How were the disciples to shine forth for the Lord? Their “good works” would be great testimonies of the salvation that they received! Others would see the powerful reality of their faith and they would then “glorify the Father in heaven”. The challenge that Jesus gave to His disciples is still very much applicable to us today! Are we shining for Jesus?