Saturday, February 11, 2023

Lamps on a Stand - Luke 8:16-18 - February 12, 2023

 Luke 8:16-18 Lamps on a Stand

Good morning! Turn with me to Luke 8:16-18, page 865 in the pew Bibles.

Last week, you may remember that we looked at Jesus’ first parable, the parable of the Sower, or of the Soils. In Jesus’ explanation of the parable to His disciples He said:

“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

It’s important for us to have that context because Jesus follows up that commentary with our text for this morning in verse 16.

16“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

Let’s pray.

On its face this text, this principle from Jesus seems pretty simple. But after long hours of study and prayer, and contemplation, and reading the scholars, I have come to the conclusion… that it is still pretty simple.

At the end of Jesus’ public proclamation of the parable of the Sower He makes the statement, in verse 8, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

This is an important statement because that is exactly what Jesus is concerned about in our text this morning: hearing, or listening.

Jesus gives us the simple picture of an oil lamp and reminds His disciples that when you light a lamp you don’t hide it under a jar or stuff it under your bed. These were obvious points that anybody would have understood. But Jesus makes a profound statement in verse 18, “Take care then how you hear…”

Since we are just coming out of the parable of the sower we can understand from the context that Jesus has already explained the “what” of what they were hearing, and that is the word of God, the gospel.

It’s equally important to consider that they were hearing at all. But the reality of it is that not everyone who hears has ears to hear.

I can attest personally that I have sat through a lot of sermons, heard a lot of gospel proclamations that were like water off a duck's back to me. Perhaps you are having the same experience even right at this very moment! Not everybody has ears to hear. But those that had ears to hear the gospel and responded to it in faith and believe in Jesus bear the responsibility to bear fruit, to go from seed to sower and that is what Jesus is addressing here in verses 16-18.

Warren Wiersbe wrote, “It is a serious thing to hear and understand the Word of God, because this puts on us the obligation to share the Word with others. Everyone who receives the seed then becomes a sower, a light bearer, and a transmitter of God’s truth. If we keep it to ourselves we will lose it; but if we share it we will receive more.”

Remember the lesson of the wise and foolish builders in chapter six?

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

When Jesus warns the disciples in our text, “Take care then how you hear…” this is what He’s talking about, hearing, understanding, and doing what He tells us.

Those who have ears to hear are those that hear, trust, and obey, and it is those that become the lighted lamps whose purpose is to be put on a stand so that all might benefit from the light.

So that’s the simple super secret and deep message from Jesus: those who have heard the gospel and have put their trust in Jesus are lamps and the light, the flame, is the gospel itself. We have not been given the light just to keep it to ourselves, instead, our lives should literally reflect the truth of what we have heard and understand and trust.

Verse 17 says, “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” What does Jesus mean, what’s the secret wisdom here?

Let me ask you this, what does light reveal? Light reveals what exists in the dark. Spiritually speaking, the light of the gospel reveals our sin. This is why people hate the gospel and reject Jesus.

Perhaps you’re familiar with John 3:16? Jesus explains this concept perfectly in the verses that follow.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

The light of the gospel reveals the reality that we are sinners and that is why we sin. But when we hear the truth of the gospel, that God loves us in spite of our sin, that He has forgiven us for all of it because of Jesus’ death on the cross, and He wants us to walk with Him in the light, we become bearers of that light in the world. 

And that is the light that we are not to hide under a jar or stuff under our beds.

18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

What does Jesus mean here, what is it that more will be given to the one who has, but will be taken from the one who doesn’t have but thinks he has? Is this just another riddle?

It may seem a little riddle-like but Jesus simply means: the truth.

When we hear the gospel and respond in faith, when we hear the truth about our sinfulness and God’s solution, we begin to learn more truth, we learn that the Bible is God’s Word and can be trusted, and from it we learn about the church and our place in God’s family and His kingdom. We can spend the rest of our lives plumbing the depths of the truth of God’s Word.

But to the one who doesn’t have the truth, who has rejected the truth of God’s saving grace in Jesus and their need for salvation and forgiveness, even the truth they think they have will be taken from them.

Even those that choose to reject Jesus will know the truth on the Day of Judgment but it will be too late for them.

In this text, Jesus gives us a wonderful picture of a lamp giving off light, and the simple truth is that lamps are supposed to be used to give off light and so, as Christians, we are to shine the light of the gospel and not to hide it.

But, I have to admit, as I have heard this text read and preached and taught in Sunday School, the picture I always saw in my mind when we sang, “This Little Light of Mine,” was the picture of a candle.

But Jesus didn’t say candle, He said, “lamp,” and how lamps are designed and how they function lends to the strength of this teaching. A lamp is a simple vessel made of clay and sometimes metal that is filled with oil and has a wick that gets lit. In truth, any nonflammable vessel can be used as a lamp if it is filled with oil and can hold a wick.

We are all just simple clay vessels and by faith in Jesus we are filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit and entrusted with the wick of the Word of God that is lit by Jesus. So we are not the light, we are simply vessels that hold the light. The light belongs to God, we just need to be willing to get out from under the bucket or bed and be set on a stand so that the light gets to shine and trust God with the rest. Amen.