Matthew 5:14-16 Let Your Light Shine! Epiphany 5 February 9, 2020
By Pastor Kenneth Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI
Grace and peace from God our Father who has empowered us to be lights in the love of our Lord Jesus!
Jesus’ words from the sermon on the mountain are from Matthew 5:14-16
These are your words, heavenly Father. Let them be our light so we can bring light to the world. Your Word
Dear Christians in the light,
Walking around in the dark is hard. If you’ve ever been in a place where there is no light, you see nothing. If you try to walk, you reach out with your hands and slowly move hoping not to trip on anything. The sad thing is that people who don’t believe Jesus through God’s Word are living in a thick spiritual darkness. They can’t see the true God by nature. The Bible says that the devil has blinded people in sin so that they cannot see God or understand the way to get to Him. Everything they try on their own moves them farther from God.
In my Air Force days I remember seeing many people who didn’t know Jesus. I was sad, and I wanted to talk with them. But it was hard to talk because I was a sinner, too. I was ashamed of the things I did or didn’t do. So, how could I share the light of Jesus with them? Our text gave me peace. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” He didn’t say: try to be the light or feel like you’re the light. Jesus called us lights! That is what we are in Christ. His Word tells us that in life we will always be sinners. But God sent His Son to save sinners like us. He called us through the message of Christ to believe that, despite our sins, Christ has given us the light of truth and salvation. Our example of being forgiven is a light. So,
Let Your Light Shine!
How do we let our light shine? First realize that it’s not about us. God did not make us lights in the sinful world so people take notice of us. Our lives and our words point to Jesus. A hymn states, “The lives that my life touches, however great or small—let them through me see Jesus, who served and saved us all.” (ELH 195 vs. 4). If the power goes out at night in our homes, why do we grab a flashlight? Is it so we can look at the flashlight? No! We use the light so we can see what is around us to get what we need. The light of our forgiven life lets others see Jesus. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). When sin entered the world, it was like darkness covered the earth spiritually. The truth did not naturally shine on people. Instead, the darkness of unbelief and the devil’s deception kept people in the dark about the true God. That’s why Jesus became one of us. He is the living Word that came full grace and truth. He called us not only to believe and be saved, but to help others see Him.
To bring us the light, it took more than Jesus doing miracles or preaching. He was our substitute. His life was like perfect light, constantly reflecting the true God by His words and actions. Then, He went to the cross physical darkness surrounded him. Worse than that, as the substitute for sinners He suffered God’s judgment: the darkness of hell. But when Jesus said, “It is finished” and died, it was like the beginning of a sunrise. His resurrection from death assured the world that His sacrifice was complete. The power of sin and death have been defeated. Jesus is now preparing a place for us with the Father in the heavenly lights.
How privileged we are to have Jesus as our light! But, many do not see a benefit of being with God. They ask, “Why trust in a God who allows evil things to happen to Christians? Others mock Christians as being heartless when they stand up for the truth of God in a world that wants to make its own form of truth. They say, “If God loves all people, why do you call us sinners?” You can’t judge us! Our answer is: we’re just letting God’s truth from His Word be known. God does love all people; so He warns them that their sins are separating them from Him. If they don’t turn away from sin and seek the forgiveness He offers them in Christ, they will be lost to eternal darkness! All people, including us, daily need to confess our sins and seek God’s mercy! Jesus said, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12:36). Once we understand the gospel message of Christ and believe in His forgiveness, we can talk with others even as sinners.
We can say with Paul: “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). As we look at our world or as we look within us, it does not seem like Christ’s victory is complete. There is so much death, brutality in the world, and even Christians are affected by it. Within us we also still see our weaknesses to sin. Yet, by faith in Christ we will have His victory! At death or at Christ’s return the truth will come to light for all to see! But, don’t wait until the end. Now is our time to speak the truth.
Secondly, we are blessed to reveal Christ to all. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” (v.14) People who don’t believe can’t see the blessings God gives us in Christ. But Christ has made all the difference! Jesus compared it to putting a lamp on a stand so everyone in the house can see. So, God holds us up in His loving hand and says, “Look at these forgiven sinners! They are the evidence of my mercy and grace in Christ. They did not earn a place of honor with me. They were sinners, but I have called them in Christ to be saints. They were condemned to darkness, but now they have the light of Jesus and eternal life with Him!”
The Apostle Paul felt unworthy to be a believer carrying the light. He wrote, “I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). We could say the same. Whatever good we accomplish is done by Christ who lives in us! (Galatians 2:20). One hymn sums it up nicely: ‘Twas Thy grace in Christ that called me, Taught my darkened heart and mind, Else the world had yet enthralled me, To Thy heavenly glories blind. Now my heart owns none above Thee; For Thy grace alone I thirst, knowing well that, if I love Thee, Thou, O Lord, didst love me first. (ELH 222 vs. 2)
Having the light helps us to be lights, but it is not easy. When the apostles were threatened by the Jewish court with punishment if they continued to talk about Jesus, they boldly answered, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). So we are privileged to do the same despite the opposition that stands against us from within or without! Every time we join in worshiping our God we let our light shine. Every time we tell someone in need that we will pray to God to help them, we’re taking the spotlight off of us and putting it on God to His praise. We want Christ’s light, His love, and His grace to shine through us!
Often, people don’t know what their purpose is in life. But God lets Christians know: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). So, let us grow in understanding the light of God’s truth in Christ. Living in His forgiveness, we are lights pointing to Jesus. To people around us who are lost in sin’s darkness, we are like the city of God’s grace on hill calling to the lost to look up and see Jesus. When people are disappointed in life or have no hope, we can be the light on a stand that gives light to all who are in the house. And we do all this, not for our praise, but that people may see the works that God has done and glorify the Father who is in heaven (v. 16).
We daily need to pray regarding our own spiritual condition that Christ remains our true and only light. Also, we pray for people who are still in spiritual darkness. There is so much to do, and so little time in our lives. Let us make the most of the opportunities God gives us. He will give us the strength. After all it is His light that we carry. The more time we spend with Jesus in His Word and the more the Holy Spirit will help us appreciate Jesus’ forgiveness and love, and His light will shine brighter for all to see. Amen.