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 5:14-16 ESV)
What is the Christian’s identity? In other words, what is the believer’s identity in Christ? Thus far, Jesus described believers in Christ as the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). However, that is not where the direct comparison concludes. Believers in Christ are also the light of the world.
The word light (φῶς; phos) refers particularly to the light of the sun. It may also refer to the heavenly bodies (James 1:17). Light is indispensable to life. Light is associated with life (cf. John 1:4), and as universal beneficence, with God and the Messiah (cf. John 1:8, 8:12), &c. (cf. John 12:36, Eph. 5:8): τὸ φῶς, the (bright) fire (Mark 14:54, Luke. 22:56).
“The second metaphor describes believers as light in this world. I have a common first-century lamp that was used in Jewish households to provide light in their homes. The lamp is small and unassuming. One day, I put a small amount of oil in the lamp with a wick, turned off the lights, and lit the wick to experience how people in the first century, without the benefit of modern electricity, lit their homes when it was dark. This lamp, though small, enabled me to see throughout the entire room. Jesus expresses how inappropriate it would be in a dark place to hide a lamp under a bowl. The intention of light is to provide a way for people to see where they are going (John 11:9–10). This is precisely what Jesus is after in calling believers “light”: they show people the way to salvation in a dark world,” explains Pastor Christopher J. Gordon.
Believers in Christ are to display the light of God’s Gospel in an increasingly dark world. There cannot be any compromise. The Apostle John stated, “5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:5-7 ESV)
“A godly life gives convincing testimony of the saving power of God. That brings him glory. Cf. 1 Pet. 2:12,” explains Dr. John MacArthur.
We live in a dark and evil world. Let us brightly shine the light of the Gospel.
Soli deo Gloria!