Sunday, February 19, 2017


A Second Parable - The Lamp

Since many Bible versions put a title for this paragraph, it is easy to think it is a new topic. But it is not. It is still speaking of those who listen to the teaching of Jesus. But it is a second illustration Jesus used to press his point.

Jesus said no one lights a lamp and covers it to hide the light. Rather, they set it up on a table to be seen. In other words, when you have something that is useful, you use it. The gospel, the message of Jesus, was meant to be used. It was not meant to be hidden.

Some people sit in church for decades. They hear the gospel repeatedly. But it has no impact on them. They do not change. They do not practice the Christian life.

Many people have heard the golden rule and the Sermon on the Mount, but they do not practice the principles of either. They are mean, selfish and complacent.

Hearing is not enough. Lip service is not enough. Jesus wants us to hear and obey his word. First we obey by receiving him as Savior and Lord. Second, we obey him by living according to his principles.

I once heard a preacher say, when we get to heaven we will be surprised at who is not there. We are accountable for hearing Jesus’ words. He said nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, everything  that is not known will come to light. (17) This is not a new concept from Jesus. Ecclesiates 12:13-14 says “Fear God and keep his commandment, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Paul carried the thought along when he wrote “God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus”, referring to the final judgment. (Romans 2:16)

Jesus went on to say “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 things that he has will be taken away”. (8:18) The one who hears the words of Jesus and puts them into practice receives salvation and sanctification as he grows in maturity in Christ. When you are the good soil, when your hear and apply the Word to yourself, you will understand more and more of God’s truth. You bear fruit with patience. (15)

That is why you can read the Bible over and over and still see new things and understand things for the first time. Proverbs 9:9 says “Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning.”

The one who hears the words of Jesus but does not do anything with it, will lose what knowledge and understanding they have, and will lose everything in the end. Jesus said “what he things that he has will be taken away”. (18)

Jesus’ Family

The last vignette in this lesson on listening to Jesus’ words occurs as Jesus’ mother and brothers came to him. It serves for Jesus to make his last point on this subject.

We know that Jesus had an earthy family. He had a mother and he had brothers according to this passage. We can surmise that Joseph had died at his point, since he is not mentioned. Mark even gave us names. He said his brothers were James, Joses, Judas and Simon. (Mark 6:3) Mark also mentioned sisters, but not by name.

This tells us that, once Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph lived together as a normal husband and wife. They had sex. They had children.

We also know that families can be complicated. This is especially true if we seek to serve the Lord in ways our families are not comfortable with or do not understand. This very thing happened to Jesus.

We know that Mary believed the words of the angel to her about Jesus. But, she did not understand everything. We see this when she is worried because Jesus stayed in the temple to discuss scripture with the Rabbis and Mary could not find him.

The episode in our current passage seems to indicate this also. Luke did not tell us why Mary and the brothers came on this occasion. However, Mark wrote that they went out to seize Jesus because they thought he was out of his mind. (Mark 3:21) John wrote that his brothers did not believe in him. (John 7:5)

When his family came to get him, they could not get to him because of the crowd. But one of the disciples told him they were there. Jesus’ reply seems harsh at first. He said “my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it”. (21)

When we get Jesus’ point, we see it is not that harsh and is certainly true. His main point is that God’s family is composed of those of good soil, of the displayed lamp; those who hear the word of God and do it. He was driving home his message that his disciples must be receptive of his word and obedient to it.

Those of us who receive Christ and his message of salvation are given the blessing of becoming part of God’s family. We become his children. John 1:12-13 says “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Galatians 3:26 says “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith”.

Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”. 1 John 3:1 says “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are”.

Jesus even taught us to address God in prayer as “Father”. He said “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven…” . (Matthew 6:9)

This concept is “adoption”, or the doctrine of adoption. Because God adopts believers into his family as his children, we have special privileges. First, we get to relate to him as a loving Father, not as a remote taskmaster or even as a judge. We are no longer slaves, but sons. (Galatians 4:7)

As his children, we are also heirs. (Galatians 4:7) We have an inheritance the Father keeps for us in heaven. It is eternal life. (1 Peter 1:4)

We also have the privilege of being made like Christ. We are led by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:14) And we are disciplined in love. (Hebrews 12:5-7)

A note of caution is needed here. Although Jesus is the Son of God and we are adopted as God’s sons, or children, we do not have the same relationship with the Father as Jesus does.

The Father is the first person of the Trinity, the Son the second. God gives us this picture of Father and Son to help us understand them and their relationship. But they are both eternal. They are of the same divine substance. They are different persons of the same Godhead.

We are not and never will be God. But he adopts us as children in the sense of creating a new relationship with us based on his love and our faith.

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