The Purpose of the Parables
Jesus used parables to make truth simple and understandable. However our responses to the truth are not always the same. We all receive the truth, but few of us know how to deal with it. Jesus taught the people by telling them parables; these were short stories using familiar scenes to explain spiritual truth. By teaching this way he compelled the listener to think and concealed the truth from any who were too stubborn or prejudiced to hear what is being taught. Most parables have one main point, so we must be careful not to go beyond what Jesus intended to teach.
Mark 4:10-13(ESV) 10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“‘they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”
the kingdom of God must be divinely revealed if people are going to grasp it (Mark 4:10–13), Jesus expands on the idea of revelation using the metaphor of the lamp. Although the secret of the kingdom of God is not given to everyone at the present, this situation will not continue. There will come a day when it will be so clearly manifested that all people will see it.
A Lamp Under a Jar
Luke 8:16-18(ESV)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.”
A Lamp Under a Basket
Mark:4:21-25(ESV)21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
City Cannot be Hidden
Matthew 5:14-16(ESV)14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 4:12-17(ESV)12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Capernaum (from Hebrew KapharNahum, village of Nahum) Jesus moved from Nazareth, his home town, to Capernaum which was about 20 miles further north and this became his home base during His ministry in Galilee.
It fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2(ESV)But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
THE PARABLE EXPLAINED
14″You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Though the Jews saw themselves as the light of the world.
Romans 2:17-24(ESV)17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
While Paul is talking about Jews we too have the same mentality at times. We call ourselves Christians then rely on our own legalistic ways teaching others the same thing. We call ourselves Christians but we are no different than the unsaved people we see everyday at school, in the workplace, or the marketplace. Then cry when someone says we are a hypocrite.
We are sometimes more strict on our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ than the Father. We also tend to forget that new Christians are spiritually immature and we expect them to be where we are spiritually when in reality they will not be there. We have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus. We begin a process called sanctification. This is the work of the Holy Spirit removing our former selves and making us anew. We are to cast out the former evil desires and allow the Holy Spirit to change us.The true light is Jesus. And because we are to be his disciples, we then constitute the new light.
Ephesians 5:1-14(ESV)Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
“Darkness” is a synonym for ignorance and error in the Bible. Ephesians 5:8(ESV) for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light,
We are to walk as Jesus walked, talk as Jesus talked and live as Jesus lived. Paul writes a few verses later, Ephesians 5:11(ESV)take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Ever been around the water jug at work and the guys start talking “guy” talk and you sit in on it and laugh, or partake in it? What about when your friend comes over with the “juicy” gossip do you lend an ear to it? Do you spread the venom? This is partaking in the unfruitful works of darkness.
2 Corinthians 4:4-6(ESV)4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
If we are now of the light, then we must be like the light. The light was shown to us w were not kept from seeing it, but yet we get complacent and fall back into our old dead ways.
Philippians 2:14-16(ESV)12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Light symbolizes purity as opposed to filth, truth as opposed to error, knowledge as opposed to ignorance, and divine revelation and presence as opposed to condemnation and abandonment by God.
The reference to the “city on a hill” is at one level fairly obvious. Often built of white limestone, ancient towns gleamed in the sun and could not easily be hidden. At night the inhabitants’ oil lamps would shed some glow over the surrounding area. As such cities could not be hidden, so also it is unthinkable to light a lamp and hide it under a bowl. A lamp is put on a lamp stand to illuminate all it touches. The “city on a hill” saying may also refer to OT prophecies about the time when Jerusalem or the mountain of the Lord’s house would be lifted up before the world and the nations would stream to it.
Jesus’ people constitute the true authority of the people of God and the means of witness to the world. The “lamp” was a small clay dish filled with oil and a wick that gave light. Disciples are like that lamp – to be revealers of light and truth. This lamp was in every home in Israel and, of necessity, was given a prominent place. Jesus is this lamp who has entered the world, the one who “came out” into Galilee in order to preach the gospel, to provide illumination to the people. As the purpose of the lamp is to be put on a lamp stand and not under a bowl or a bed, so the present hiddenness of Jesus will not always be, and God intends that one day Jesus will be manifested in all his glory. But now he is hidden. In first-century Palestine, oil lamps were typically hung from lampstands so that they would sit above the room and provide the maximum amount of light. They were not put under a bed or a basket, for that would not ful ll the purpose of lighting up the room. Jesus’ point, then, is that His reign will not remain secret forever. His glory will not be veiled permanently. Even those who cannot see Him now because they refuse to come into the light will not behold His glory, not to mention those who love Him. As Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary Mark, Jesus is “talking about the full manifestation of His nature and of His kingdom at the last day.”
Of course, the final revelation of Christ and His kingdom to all people does not mean that all will be saved. Jesus plainly teaches that some will suffer eternal punishment (Matt. 25:31–46). The full revelation of His kingdom will be a day of sorrow for those who reject Him, but for His servants it will be a day of rejoicing in His glorious light.
HOLD HIGH THE TRUTH
A Christian is one who is in love with truth in the most innermost parts of his heart. He delights in truth. Psalm 51:6(ESV)Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
As we have said “Light” is a synonym for truth in the Bible. Like the lamp the believer is to enlighten by standing for God’s truth. When a person isn’t right with God it shows in their countenance – the light has gone from their eyes.
As Christians we cannot and must not withhold the truth, since truth is light then it would be unnatural to do so. Is it possible to hide a city that sits on the top of a hill? Of course not! Its light can be seen for miles. If we live for Christ, then we will have influence and that influence should shine forth like the light on top of a lamp stand, it should glow to show others what Christ is like so that God will receive the glory for all that is good in our lives. Too many of us become quiet when we should speak; we find it easier to go along with the crowd and in so doing we deny the light. We let sin into our lives, which only serves to dim the light. And lastly, ignoring the needs of others, we become so wrapped up in our own lives that we tend to pull the curtains and shut the light in… Don’t shut your light of from the rest of the world. We are vessels for the indwelling spirit of God; we are to be that light on its stand reflecting the light of God that burns from within.
Romans 13:12(ESV)12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.