8 February 2018Luke 8:16-18
“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.” (v. 16)
Psalm: Psalm 18:1-19
Following the parable of the sower, Jesus offers a single parable which he expands as an illustration. While the parable is also found later in Luke’s Gospel where its context suggests a different application (Luke 11:33), Jesus was an adaptive and creative teacher who could use parables in different ways.
In this setting, the lamp that is lit is a reference to the message about the kingdom. Just as a lamp sheds light within a room – and so wouldn’t be placed under a lampstand – so the message of the kingdom is announced publicly, in the sight of all. This dovetails nicely with the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15). There the word is compared to seed; here it is the lamp that lights up a room.
Lights make things visible, and so Jesus explains that there “nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed” (v. 17). The announcement of the kingdom of God unveils God’s word and work within the world. It highlights the hypocrisy of those who resist the message of Jesus, while illuminating the ways God works to bring people into the kingdom. It also reveals those who are within and without the kingdom, picking up Jesus’ earlier words on the purpose of parables (Luke 8:9-10).
If the kingdom announcement has come in and with Jesus, then it is, of course, important to “pay attention to how you listen” (v. 18). If we listen rightly, we’ll receive even more than we have. But if we fail to listen, we can miss the truth that is at the heart of the kingdom. We can find ourselves receiving less light, shut out from the glory of God. What we have will then be taken away.
This is a sobering teaching, but reminds us that those who respond rightly to what they know of God are those who grow in faith.
- In what way is the gospel message today like a ‘light’ that is seen by all?
- How can we pay better attention to what God is saying through Scripture?