Preaching in Galilee, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
What does it mean to be the "light of the world"? My mom was eight years old when she went to Israel. When she visited the Sea of Galilee, she learned what Jesus meant. Before I tell you, though, you ought to know that the Galilean Sea is two hundred feet below sea level and surrounded by mountains. The Sea is three miles wide and seven miles long, and in the day time, you can see shore to shore. But at nighttime, you can't see across. Now here is what Jesus meant in his parable: Before electricity was invented, they used candles to see at night. At dusk, a member of each house took a candle that had been kept concealed in a basket all day and went down to the shore. Lighting the candle, they placed their candles on the shore. The flickering flame of the candle told the fishermen where exactly on the shoreline to dock. Using landmarks, memory, and the candle, fishermen knew exactly where home was.
Are you starting to see what Jesus meant with this parable? Candles kept in the basket were utterly useless. They provided no light and led no one to shore. It was only when they were lit and posted on the shore could the fishermen see the light and know precisely where to go. We are supposed to be like these candles. Without that candle, the fishermen could spend hours wandering the Sea, trying to find home. And unless we display our light, we won't be leading anyone to Christ.
Light always defeats darkness. One small flame in a dark room illuminates the entire room. But one shadow in a lighted room does not devour the light. Light is stronger; light always prevails. We are to be lights in this dark world. In darkness, people are always drawn to the light, no matter how small it is. Why is that? Something in us yearns for light. Did you know that there's a small town in Alaska with a substantial number of suicides. Why? The sun only shines a few months of the year. People need the sun. We need vitamins and warmth from the sun, and, if you ask me, there's something about the sun that makes people happy and kind-hearted and lively. Did you know that people trapped in caves go stark raving mad and blind? Why? Trapped in a cave, they obviously never see the sun. Without the sun, the body does not get the vitamins it needs; parts of the body, like the eyes, simply stop working. If you spend too much time in the darkness, you will become blind. It's our job to be the flame. If we don't shine, no one will. Then what will our world look like? Everyone will be spiritually blind, sin will reign, darkness will be in control. We must be the light that beckons and calls others to Christ.
We need to be constant, stationary, consistent. Our job is to be the light that tells others where Christ is. We are supposed to point lost, wandering people to Heaven, to that shining City on a Hill. Burn with a passion for the lost. Fire up your flame for the lost. Our flame could be what brings someone to Christ.
The message the candle sent was, "Home is here! Here, you'll find comfort, rest, love! There is where you want to be! There's a loving family waiting upon your arrival; don't miss out!" Our message should be the same, word for word. Jesus also told us to be fishers of men. That's what those candles were: they fished the fishermen home. Are we to do anything different?