When we join Jesus today, Mark does not make it clear if He is still with His intimate group or if Jesus was now addressing a crowd. When I “fast forward” a bit to verse 34, it looks like from our verses through verse 34 Jesus is teaching to the crowd instead of giving private instruction. Mark tells us that Jesus explained everything to His disciples in private, so being that today’s parable doesn’t come equipped with an explanation, He was probably delivering it to the crowd.
Mark doesn’t record the specific account of Jesus sharing the meaning of this parable with His disciples. Maybe the Holy Spirit believed that this parable was self-explanatory. Let’s look at this parable and see where the Holy Spirit takes us.
I think it is obvious that Jesus is the light being brought into the “room”; the world. When Jesus came into the world He didn’t burn at full intensity at first. He wanted to stay under the radar and slowly grow. There were things that still needed to remain hidden for God’s plan to be completed correctly. But what was hidden, was only to be hidden for a time; not forever.
We read yesterday the reason behind Jesus’ use of parables. It was to keep the truth hidden. The parables imparted surface truth to those who listened, but the deeper meaning stayed hidden to everyone but Jesus’ followers. And they understood because Jesus explained His parables to them. It wasn’t time yet for the people to understand so the light didn’t burn bright enough to illuminate everything Jesus said for the masses.
Jesus’ light reminds me of a kerosene lamp. Before the match is struck, the wick of the lamp is rolled down into the oil to ensure it has fuel in it, then rolled up to expose the soaked portion for the match. After the wick is ready, the match is struck and applied to the wick, which begins burning. Once the wick is fully aflame it is rolled down to a point where the flame is controlled. Finally the chimney is placed on the lamp and the wick adjusted to produce the right amount of light for the needs of the user. Most lamps were lit early in the evening and as the natural light faded, more light would be needed from the lamp. Different kinds of activities also required differing strengths of light from the lamp.
God prepared the wick, Israel, with just the right amount of fuel to ensure that when He struck the match the wick would catch. Some ordinary shepherds on a hill, along with Joseph and Mary, got to witness that first light.
Once the wick was lit it was rolled back down to control the flame until the right time. Jesus’ childhood happened during this quiet time for the flame. There were only a few flickers that we got to read about in Matthew and Luke’s accounts.
Jesus’ early ministry is when the chimney is finally placed on the lamp. Jesus begins to share His light with the world. As His ministry progresses and the darkness around Him begins to build, through the plots of the Pharisees, Jesus wick is turned up to produce even more light.
Jesus’ light burned the brightest so far the morning He rose from the grave. Jesus no longer needed to keep the secret things hidden. There wasn’t a plan in need of protection any more. Jesus had fulfilled God’s plan to the letter and now it was time for the truth to come to light.
I don’t think we have seen the full strength of Jesus’ light yet. I think that will happen when He steps back out of Heaven and rules here on Earth. At that time NOTHING will be hidden. Right now we still have prophecy we try to interpret and things we don’t fully understand.
Which brings us right to the next portion of Jesus’ words to us today. He says to, “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. 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” (verses 24-25).
To me this speaks of searching the scriptures. If I only read my bible like a novel, moving from one story to the next without really looking any further than the words on the page, all I will get is surface knowledge. That knowledge is profitable and leads me to faith in Jesus, but it won’t sustain me in the long run. When trouble comes, like it always does, I need more than stories to hold onto.
I need deep truths. I only get these when I take the time to dig into the stories and look for the meaning and personal application buried in them. To do this I have to ask for HIS help in understanding them and listen to what He shows me. He wrote the stories so He is the One who knows all that they hold. I find it awe inspiring and humbling when He takes the time to show me something I hadn’t seen before.
I know it sounds like we have reached the end of looking at our parable but I want to point out just a couple more things before we call it a night. First is that Jesus wants to be more than just the light of the world. He wants to be the light for each of our hearts. We may have our own personal “kerosene lamp” experience. He wants to get to the point where nothing is hidden in us either. He doesn’t want to be our night light, burning dimly in a corner so as not to disturb the sleeper. Instead He wants to be our brightly burning torch, chasing all shadows from the room.
The last thought I want to leave you with is this. Have you ever noticed that as you get closer to the light, it appears to be stronger? Jesus is the same way. He is like the lights of a distant city. You see only small pin pricks from the distance and they help guide you to them. As you draw nearer and nearer to them though, they take on form and substance. They illuminate the details of the city. They show you the safe places. They point out the places of food and lodging. They guide you to your destination. Jesus wants to guide you with His light all the way home. Seek Him and His light.
Thank You God for Jesus, the Light of the world. Thank You that You sent Him to show me the way home. Thank You that You didn’t, and still don’t, blind me with Your light. But You draw me a step at a time out of the darkness into Your light. You spark my interest with Your stories. That interest compels me to go deeper into Your word. You have illuminated so many things I never would have found on my own. And each of those things You have shown me make me want to know even more. I am longing for the day when I won’t have any unanswered questions, because You will have addressed each and every one of them with me personally. Until then, keep me searching, questioning, listening, and hungry for more.