He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (Mark 4:21-23 NRSV)
This short passage is tucked among several parables in which Jesus describes the kingdom of God. Jesus often taught in parables, knowing that his intended meaning would be received by those who loved him (who had “ears to hear”) while remaining hidden from those whose hearts were not open to his revelation of the heavenly kingdom.
The lamp is the light of Christ, God’s loving presence here with us. This light was revealed through Jesus and is now shining in us. We are to shine and share this light with others. As our lives increasingly demonstrate Jesus’ kingdom living, we may help to reveal his parables; our glowing lamps will help bring these hidden and secret meanings to light for others.
“Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?” We know the obvious answer to Jesus’ question. No, we are not to put our light under a bushel basket or bed. We are not to hide the love of Christ or keep it only for ourselves. We are called to light up the world with the light of God’s love as shown in Jesus. We are to make this kingdom of God more visible to everyone we encounter.
Still, there are times when we may be uncomfortable doing so. Sometimes I hesitate to share my faith because I am concerned that I might be seen as naïve, self-righteous, intimidating, outdated, rigid, judgmental, or too conservative. I am embarrassed to be thought of as having the characteristics of some religious leaders who are prominent in politics and elsewhere. There are times when I worry how someone will react if I profess that I am a follower of Jesus.
I am called to shine the light of Christ’s love- not to hide it.
Perhaps I should first shine that light into the darkness of my embarrassment, of my concern for my self-image, of my fear of being judged unfairly by others. I should shine that light into the darkness of my tendency to want to defend myself. I should shine that light of love into the darkness of my criticism for those who live their faith in a way that is different from my understanding of the way of Jesus.
Then, I should allow Jesus’ light to become my guiding light, so that I might continue to grow as his disciple, to follow his example more perfectly, to become more like him and to live as he would. I should allow his light to fully illuminate my life and correct what isn’t of him.
Finally, I should shine this light outward, by living-
in the joyous freedom of being a follower of Jesus,
in the peaceful way of walking in a challenging world,
and in the loving unity of embracing a diverse humanity.
My life could become a contrast to the rule-keeping, judgment-making, fear-invoking image so many people witness these days.
The light of the love of Jesus is for all of us. I am called to shine his light of love- first as a revealing, healing, and perfecting light into my own soul, and then as a beckoning, freeing, and welcoming light for the souls of others.
Are you talking to ME?
Today Jesus is asking, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?”
You have the light of Christ. How do you let it freely and brightly shine? Are there any situations in which you are tempted to hide your light? What would you find if you shine the light into your darkness? How might his illuminating light help you see yourself more clearly? Where are you most needed to illuminate the world with the love of Christ? Are you ready to shine for others?
Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?