July 17, 2022

Shine The Light Of Jesus

Passage: Matthew 5:14-16

The great Evangelist, Dwight L. Moody shared the following story: “At the mouth of Cleveland harbour, there were two lights, one at each side of the bay, called the upper and lower lights.  To enter the harbour safely by night, vessels had to sight both of the lights.  These western lakes are sometimes more dangerous than the great ocean.  One wild, stormy night, a steamer was trying to make her way into the harbour.  The captain and pilot were anxiously watching for the lights.  By-and-by the pilot was heard to say, 'Do you see the lower light?' 'No', was the reply; 'I fear we have passed them.'   As they looked back they saw the dim outline of the lower lighthouse against the sky.  And where they were positioned they knew they were way too close to the rocks on the one side of the bay.  Inevitable they crashed against the rocks, and sank to the bottom.  Very few escaped; the great majority found a watery grave.  Why?, Moody asked.  He gave the answer himself, 'Simply because the lower lights had gone out.  Now, spiritually with the upper lights there will never be a problem; they will never go out.  Christ Himself is the upper light – the Light of the world Who gives light to lost sinners.  But quite often the lower lights go out, because people don't live close enough to Jesus, to reflect His light.”  Let's think about the reality - Many people in the world regret at the end of their lives that they have walked by those who lived in darkness without reflecting the light of Jesus.  The urgency in Jesus' voice still echoes throughout the world as He cries out, “...let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

From Matthew 5: 14-16 we first see that 1 We Have To Be People Of The Light.  In verse 14 we read, “You are the light of the world.”   We need to qualify what Jesus meant by these words.  Quite often every follower of Jesus feels more like darkness than light.  We feel like we need to hide in darkness just like David expressed in Psalm 139 when he felt like fleeing from God's presence.  How can we ever be light?  Isn't it true that we are blinded by the light Jesus brings to our lives when our sins are exposed?  But you see, what Jesus really meant was that every person who came into the world has to come to Him, the Light of the world.  He was and is the source of light.  And what our Lords wants to do is to transform every human life.  That's what He told a man who came to Him at night in search for answers.  This man didn't want others to know that he was searching – he was a Pharisee.  What would others have thought of him?  Therefore he chose to go to Jesus at night.  It was Nicodemus Jesus told in John 3: 21, “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”  And after the transformation through our Lord Jesus Christ, we changed from people of darkness to people of light.  An East Indian man who converted from Hinduism to Christianity told of the day he saw the light of Jesus.  He was the leader of a gang and arranged to meet them on a street corner.  Well he ended up at the wrong street corner – wrong because it was not where they said they would meet.  But right, because God had an appointment with him.  On the street corner he ended up was a church and a service was held at that particular moment.  He heard singing and it drew him right into the building.  He shared that at that moment it was like light came down from heaven.  He became a person of the light of Jesus Christ.  My friends, can we ever express in human words the wonderful grace of our God that we have received the light of Jesus?  Think about it – there are thousands in the world who still haven't come to the light, but we have been touched by God.  We don't have to stumble in darkness through life, because we are people of the light.  And once we have received the light, we were called to walk in the light.  St. Paul reminds believers in Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light.”  We are challenged – get rid of those practices of darkness that try to take control of your lives.  Walk in the light of Jesus Christ.  Make a conscious decision to become more and more like Him.  Isn't that wonderful that Jesus sees us worthy enough to say, “You are the light of the world”?  That only because in Him we became people of the light.

But then He tells us 2 There Is A Testimony To Be Shared.  We read in verse 14b and 15, “A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”  Jesus expressed what the purpose of a light is in these verses – to give light and not to be hidden.  For the same spiritual reason He placed us in the world.  He cries out to every single believer, “Come out of your hiding places; come out of your church building and make a difference in the world.”  Wasn't that true in the lives of the first apostles?  They were in hiding in rooms with dim lights, but since Jesus threw the doors open after His resurrection, they were barely inside.  They went from region to region with the light of the Gospel.  And that light confronted so many that they turned their lives over to Jesus.  Yes, that light became so confrontational through the lives of all the apostles, that with the exception of John, they all died the martyr's death.  But you see, to them it was about a testimony to be shared – the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  My friends, do we see ourselves as God's messengers in the year 2022?  We can never think like those who say, “There are the ones who call themselves missionaries.  Let them be the ones who put their lives in danger for the cause they believe in.”   No, my friends, we are called; we have a testimony to share.  Is it urgent enough that we are willing to accept God's mission again this morning?  “Go and make disciples of all nations...”  We just can't afford to hide God's light any longer.

Jesus concludes – 3 There Is A Purpose To Consider as you let your light shine.  We read about that in verse 16b, “...that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Jesus didn't say that we should live our lives in such a fashion that people will see our good deeds and say what marvellous, outstanding people we are.  A lamp does not call attention to itself.  It's simply placed on a lamp-stand from which it will give the best illumination.  It's not always easy to perform “good deeds” in such a way that people will always praise God rather than the one performing the act, but it's still commanded.  We are not called to be magnificent chandeliers for the world to admire.  We are called to be the little single light bulb God called us to be.  And that light bulb is to give light to the glory of God.  That people will turn to God and praise Him.  Have you ever done something in a church – perhaps this church and then you haven't received recognition?  We all want to get recognition, but think about this – when we haven't received recognition, most probably God received the glory.  We are here for His glory and His purpose.  Let us shine our lights for Him.
My friends, first we are here for God's glory, but then He wants us to be there for those in need.  I read something touching I want to share.  On June 5, 1910 the American Short-story writer O. Henry spoke his last words.  He said, “Turn up the lights, I don’t want to go home in the dark..”  Let's be a light for God and a light in people's lives.



Rev. Willem H. van de Wall