Do you shine like a light in darkness? Are we like a city on a hill, a shinning city that is so bright and desirable that others are drawn into the light? I often reflect on this, did I shine today, did I shine while I was talking to so and so? When I went shopping today, did I shine? This is important, we need to check ourselves against what is being asked of us. Am I asked to shine? Yes! We are asked to shine by Jesus, and the apostle Paul.
Matthew 5:14-16 NRSV
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Jesus, as he gives the sermon on the mount, does more than ask us to be lights, I believe Jesus is telling us, as a command, to shine. A city on a hill can not help but be seen at night as the collective light from each home and business are shinning as one. Flying at night was always fascinating to me because at 25,000 feet in the air it is dark. But as you look down and see some dark patches, mostly you will see were cities, towns, and villages are because the are very bright. If you fly over the ocean at night this is even more spectacular. In Jesus day it was even darker away from a city making the city even brighter. Jesus wants his hearers to shine. What is it like in the Kingdom of God? It is bright!
There is something more to shinning. Jesus might have said shine so you can spread my message of repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. We might say Paul tells to shine as lights in the world to magnify Jesus, the savior of the world. Some might say we shine with good works, brining light to sin or immoral works of the world. All of these are correct but there is more.
John 1:3-5,9 NRSV
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.…The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
Jesus life was the light. His life is what was shining. When Peter, James, and John saw Jesus glorified, shining incredibly bright, they were seeing more than bright light, they were seeing his life as it was beyond the fleshly body. Remember when Paul says later that we do not remember Jesus in the flesh any longer? I believe that Paul is recalling his own encounter with Jesus as a light so bright that he was blinded. That was the Lord Jesus Christ! This is the true light that came into the world, so bright that darkness could not wrap it up. Jonathan Mitchell’s New Testament translation brings out a wonderful idea about what this light was.
“Furthermore, the Light progressively came to be the life known as "humanity," and was for human beings…” -JMNT
In Genesis 2, a man was created. That man, Adam, should have stayed around the garden a little longer. If he had, eventually, I believe, he would have been able to show us what being a human was all about. Instead, Adam and Eve chose to try and skip ahead of God and missed the rest of their growth. The results were staggering. Jesus came as a light to the world. Jesus light did not become progressively brighter. What is progressively revealed is that Jesus life was true humanity. I say “is” rather than “was” because I believe this progressive revelation is on-going, even today. Jesus came to show what it meant to be human, all the way to the cross. All of us arrive to this conclusion at various times in our lives, and we show it, shining bright, in various ways.
The life of the cross was the pinnacle of what human existence should look like, perfectly self-giving.