Jesus continues this sermon on the Mount by speaking about the light.
Matthew 5:14-16 says this, “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 a lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
A lot here but a few crucial points….
Spiritually speaking, there is no light in the world apart from Jesus Christ. His light shines through every person who belongs to Him. In this way, the light of Christ is distributed into the darkness in every corner of humanity. Jesus adds to this metaphor by referring to a city positioned on top of a hill. It is not meant to be hidden; a city on a hill is meant to be seen and found even in the darkness of night. During the time of Christ, the walls around a city on a hill were often made from white limestone, which would be relatively easy to see, even on a dim night.
In the same way, the light of Christ is not meant to be hidden on the earth. It is meant to shine out brightly from all who belong to Christ. It is meant to be discovered, in this way, by those still in the darkness.
An insight into the light metaphor here:
Nights could be very dark during the time of Jesus. In fact, to modern eyes living in a time of electricity, the inky nighttime darkness of the ancient world would likely be shocking. On a moonless or overcast night, people would have struggled to see their hand in front of their own eyes. Caves and interiors of large rooms would have been naturally devoid of any light.
Light was available in the form of fire, including oil lamps. As houses grew dark after sunset, lamps would be lit and, if available, distributed around the house. Placement was key. The lamps would be put on a stand in the optimal spot to provide as much light to the room as possible. This is the point of Jesus’ comment in this verse: why would anyone light a lamp in the nighttime and then put a basket over it? They would not, Jesus says. The light of lamps is meant to be seen in the same way that the light of Christ is meant to be seen in the world.
We are meant to be the light of Jesus each and every day. In our words, our actions, our reactions. At our jobs. In our families. In our conversations. In the way that we treat other people. In the way that we help other people. We are meant to be Jesus every day.
His light is our light. His life is our life. His ways are our ways.
Be the light.