15. "Two Stories About Lamps"

Luke 8:16–18; 11:33–36

The Parables of the Lamp are found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Matthew 5:14–16, Mark 4:21–23, and Luke 8:16–18; 11:33–36). By placing these parables of the lamp immediately after the parable of the Sower, Mark and Luke are both emphasizing the consequence of hearing the word of God fruitfully. When a disciple, such as you and I, receives the word of God so he can bear fruit – sixty, eighty, even a hundredfold — he then becomes a light for others.
Jesus tells us in both Luke parables that you don't light a lamp and then hide its light. That would be foolish. Rather, you place that light (your inner Light) where it can be seen and provide light to everyone.

Two Stories About Lamps

A Lamp on a Stand . . . and . . . The Lamp of the Body

The First Lamp Parable

A Lamp on a Stand — Luke 8:16–18
"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him."

I imagine that Jesus was smiling when He spoke His words in verse 16. After all, if you're going to light a lamp, you do it for illumination, not to hide or conceal it. If hiding or concealing it was your purpose, you wouldn't light it!

So, how do we interpret this three-verse passage? The first verse is followed by a verse about nothing being hidden (8:17), which is followed by a familiar saying "Therefore consider carefully how you listen" (8:18), which is very similar to 8:8 in the previous Parable of the Seed and the Soils: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." As Wil M. showed us during our first parable study, the clear theme of the Parable of the Seed and the Soils is hearing the Word of God about His Kingdom, fully comprehending its implications, and acting on it, producing a "good crop of varying yields."

The lamp on the stand — this message about the Kingdom of God — must not be hidden or just whispered in secret. Rather, it must be proclaimed openly and clearly "so that those who come in can see the light" that provides illumination and power. Jesus, the Light, is instructing his disciples, as well as His Hearty Boys. Don't stifle the message of the Kingdom. Proclaim it openly!

Brothers: Have you been tempted to only whisper or even hide the light of the message of Jesus' Kingdom? In 8:16, Jesus is speaking to you and me. What will we do? Our answer is in 8:18; we start by listening carefully to His Word.

Why does Jesus urge us again to listen carefully? It's because we need to be shown that the danger of self-deception is great. Wil's lesson showed us that the seed that fell and bounced off the hard-packed soil of the path is a reference to the closed-minded attitude of the Pharisees who thought they knew better than anyone else. George introduced us to two opposing elements in the Wise and Foolish Builders parable: (a) those who heard Jesus' words and then put them into practice and (b) those who heard the same words but didn't apply them. For the same reason, Jesus warns again (8:18), "Consider carefully how you listen." Then be ready to act and show His light in you.

The world prefers darkness. But a true Christian would never choose to hide his lamp. Today, it's time for each of us to disclose and proclaim the wisdom of God that is now revealed in Jesus Christ. Are you a disciple? Sure you are! Are you a source of His light? That's every disciples' glory and our vital mission. In you, God's "lamp" has been lit. It mustn't be hidden, but instead, as we learn in Revelation 1, it must be set high on a lamp stand for all to see.

The Second Lamp Parable

The Lamp of the Body — Luke 11:33–36
"No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you."

In this parable, Luke repeats the parable in a different context. Jesus says in verse 33 that the purpose of a lamp, once again, is to illuminate. For that reason, a lamp's light is put in a prominent place. I understand Him to be saying that Jesus has come as the Light of the world, to illuminate men.

The next three verses tell us that the problem was not with verifying the miraculous wonderment that Jesus produced, but with the eyes that beheld it. The eye, Jesus said, is the gateway to a person’s entire being, his whole body. If the eye is good, it lets in light so the whole body becomes illuminated. If the eye is defective, it lets in little or no light, making the entire body dark.

It seems to me that a man’s ability to understand what God is saying and doing depends on his ability to “see” the truth. The Bible is filled with evidence that shows truth, but the eyes of most man aren't able to see it.

A Hearty Application

Verse 33 speaks of the purpose of the lamp; to provide light. It's worthless to take the time and energy to light a lamp and then put it somewhere ineffectual. The lamp is placed in a prominent location so everyone can see when the environment is dark. The living Spirit is inside us, shining His light in all of our spiritually dark environments.

Verse 34 tells us that it's the eye that perceives the light. The good eye lets light in. But the bad eye keeps light out, leaving us in that darkness.

Verse 35 urges us to take care that the Light enters our lives and remains within us. There are times when we allow dark things to come inside us. We can easily become distracted by worldly pleasures that inevitably eat away at our heart for a long time to come. We must be vigilant about what we let into our lives.

Verse 36 assures us that when we let Christ in, His light shines outwardly through us. Our purpose really, in what we are called to do, is to be a lamp; one that emits the light of Christ that shines brightly and lastingly. For His light to show through us, we have to let only Him come inside, not the darkness.

So how brightly does Christ's light shine through you?

Take our Parables Quiz!

<<< Return to our Home page.