Go, with your lamp lifted high, and plant seeds!
Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), and He is the light of the world (John 9:5). Jesus Christ is the lamp He Himself speaks about in the first parable of this jam-packed 14 verses. The lamp is Jesus, the Word of God, and His Holy Spirit living in us and changing our lives. Let us not hide it “under a basket or under a bed” but instead, “set it on a lampstand.” Some might say, “How do I hold my lamp up and let my light shine? I’m a shy person, and I don’t feel bold enough to go around talking about my faith all the time.” That’s not exactly what it means to keep your lamp from being hidden. It’s a personal thing. The light of Christ is within you, and it can shine with or without bold words. In verse 24, it talks about having ears to hear – this means listening to what the Lord is telling you through His Spirit, paying attention, and then acting upon what you hear. You may be called to speak bold words at times, or simply refrain from gossip, or respond to a troubled person with love and encouragement. The possibilities are endless. When we listen and take heed, even more will be measured out to us! (v. 24)
In the following verses (26-29), Jesus teaches the parable of the growing seed. When we keep our lamp from being hidden, we end up planting seeds, and we will likely not know how they will grow (v. 27). Many times, we question if those seeds were even planted or received. But it is not our job to grow them. The Lord our God is the gardener (or vinedresser in John 15:1). Our job is to abide in Him, and then we will plant seeds (without even knowing it sometimes). He will water them, nurture them, and grow them.
Next, the parable of the mustard seed (vv. 31-32) shows us that even the tiniest of seeds, when planted, can grow into one of the largest plants/trees, “greater than all herbs” and the “birds of the air may nest under its shade.” That’s right, the smallest seed can yield the most amazing plant that gives shade (refuge, protection) to many. We all know of people like this – mighty men and women of God, all with different qualities. Some speak a lot, some don’t, but they are providing encouragement and discipleship because the tiny seed someone planted has grown into something incredible. They go forth and plant more seeds because they are hearing and heeding what God shows them, and they receive more to share because of it. All of this they are doing with the beautiful and unique personalities given them by their Creator.
Finally, one of the things most impressed upon me is in verses 33 to 34. Jesus taught using parables (short allegorical stories designed to illustrate a truth, principle, or moral lesson). It appears that many in the crowds did not understand, even the disciples at times – but “when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.” Jesus is still doing this today through His Holy Spirit within us. Not only does He open up the meaning of the parables He taught as we read His Word, but He gives us new “parables” today – powerful stories or examples that we ourselves find or hear through others, such as our own pastors and leaders. I think of Pastor Flick’s parable of the spouse’s argument (in his sermon from 1/22/23): When a church is not in unity in the love and worship of Christ and love of one another, it is like walking into a house where the husband and wife just had an argument – we were invited, but it’s uncomfortable and we know that something is not quite right.
Hillary also shared a parable (at the beginning of each service on 1/29/23): A girl was held against her will in chains. Her captor (enemy) had filled her with such fear that when she found a key and unlocked her chains, she became so afraid that she locked herself back up rather than trying to flee. This demonstrates how we can allow fear (from the enemy) to overtake us at times and sabotage our freedom. These stories will remain in my memory forever because they cause us to personally connect with the truth. Jesus, of course, knows that is our nature and how we can learn and remember what He wants to show us. He is still using parables today.