A Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church. Find another day here.
Monday, September 28, 2020
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.””
Some time ago I was in the Dominican Republic helping my friend Keith Burnett with one of his pastors’ training courses. Now, these classes are always great because the students are typically very involved and attentive, although due to the language and culture barrier it can at times be challenging to really illustrate the teaching material like we might at home. In this particular session we were working through the idea that although Jesus first came into the world as the suffering Savior He would one day return as the triumphant King and each of us will face His perfect judgement. To try to help connect the point, I pointed to the projector screen on the wall in the front of the room and asked the class to imagine coming before Judge Jesus, and there is a video screen prepared to show the story of our lives. Not only will the screen show the big events, the highlight reel, but it will also include every single word spoken (and typed), every action taken (or not), every thing (and image and website) looked at, and every thought that had ever entered our minds. As the interpreter relayed the message the students’ expressionless faces slowly turned to disgust and horror and some actually started sliding out of their chairs towards the floor. The thought of being completely laid bare before anyone, let alone the perfectly holy Son of God, was just too much to take in.
Using another illustration from everyday life, Jesus asked His audience a hypothetical question: “Do you put a lit lamp under a basket or bed, or on a stand?” Obviously, it goes on the stand to provide light for the room, as only a fool would waste their precious fuel by covering up a burning lamp. Jesus goes on to say that like a lamp lit in a dark room, the truth is impossible to hide forever. At some point, everything hidden will be made manifest and every secret will come to light.
Now, what exactly did Jesus mean by saying these things? First, His followers will serve as lights in a dark world. As He explained in the Sermon on the Mount, His followers are “the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” They are light because they have the light, which is Jesus Himself. Jesus explained to the disciples in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The followers of Jesus are not the originators of the light, they are merely keepers of it. Jesus enters into the heart of every believer the moment they come to faith and His light becomes visible through them.
While the light of Jesus shines outward into the darkness of the world, it also shines inward into the darkest corners of our lives. Jesus is not only interested with how we spend our time on Sunday mornings (although He does care about that), but His Lordship extends into every area of our lives. The light of Christ exposes every bit of sin within us; every bitter attitude, every prejudicial thought, and every selfish desire. Like turning on a blacklight in a hotel room (which I do not recommend), the closer we get to Jesus, the stronger His light grows, and the more we are able to see ourselves for who we have been all along; sinners in need of a savior.
The reality is that the Lord already sees and knows everything about us. While one day, some day, who we really are and everything we have ever done will be exposed for all the universe to see, Jesus knows it all right now. There are no secret sins, for Jesus sees all and we will all be called to account for our lives.
Back in Pastors’ school, the illustration didn’t end with the bad news about ourselves. Instead, I asked the pastors to imagine that as the lights dim and the film begins to roll, instead of seeing ourselves, we see Jesus. Jesus working miracles. Jesus feeding the masses. Jesus suffering and dying on the cross. As the lights come up Jesus declares: “It is finished. Your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
For all who believe in the power and sufficiency of Jesus Christ, this is not a hypothetical situation. Jesus has done for us what we could never do for ourselves, and as a result our sin is credited to Him and His righteousness is credited to us. We don’t deserve it, we could never earn it, and it can never be taken away from us. But for those who do not receive the gift of grace offered through Jesus, the scene will be even more devastating than we can imagine. One way or another, the price must be paid. If Jesus doesn’t pay it all for us, we most assuredly will.
Every follower of Jesus is a bearer of the hope and light of Christ, called to let it to shine without and within. Each of us deserves the cross, but through Jesus, and only through Him, we receive the crown. The amazing thing is that He already knows all that we have done and ever will do, and yet He still extends His love and forgiveness to us. May the light of Jesus within us shine for His glory now and forevermore.
Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, You are the Light of the world. We confess that at times we love the darkness and that there are areas of our lives that we have attempted to keep You from entering. Shine in our hearts that we may recognize the full totality of our depravity and wonder anew at the full measure of Your grace. Forgive us our sins and enable us to be a light unto our darkened world. We pray this in Your brilliant name, Amen.