The Lamp, a parable


Luk 8:16  “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a container, or puts it under a bed; but puts it on a stand, that those who enter in may see the light. 17  For nothing is hidden, that will not be revealed; nor anything secret, that will not be known and come to light. 18  Be careful therefore how you hear. For whoever has, to him will be given; and whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he thinks he has.” 


This teaching is one of Jesus’s Kingdom parables or teachings. We therefor first of all need to determine what a kingdom is; an earthly kingdom? It is a vast area of land consisting of farms and cities and is inhabited by a multitude of people. It is ruled by a king. He makes the laws and his subjects must abide thereby. If he is good king, his kingdom will be good to live in.


What and where is God’s Kingdom? It is firstly in heaven where He rules over the angels and other heavenly beings. Since God is perfectly just, holy, loving and almighty, heaven is the perfect place to be in.


He created the earth to be like heaven but Adam and Eve caused it to fall into the hands of the devil, who is now having a great influence in it because he controls the hearts and minds of at least 90% of all human beings and they control the governments of this world. They also exert their bad influence on all areas of daily life. For that reason the world is a bad place to live in and God is going to destroy it in the near future and set up a totally new earth that will be holy, just like heaven.

Jesus came to recruit citizens for this new Kingdom. To become a citizen of the Kingdom of Jesus, a person has to consider whether he really wants to live a holy life and whether he wants Jesus to be his King forever. If he agrees to these conditions, the Lord Jesus comes into his heart, his life, by the Holy Spirit and sits on the throne of it. That means that He controls the persons life even in the finest details. Such a person cannot later on change his mind. Accepting Jesus as King is a once and for all step.

In the previous portion of Scripture, Jesus explained this principle by a parable of a sower sowing seed. The harvest depended on the quality of the soil. He then explained the spiritual meaning. The seed was the secrets, the principels of God’s Kingdom and the soil, the hearts of people. Some soil fully accepted the seed and bore much fruit. That soil represents people that fully accept Jesus and the rules of His Kingdom.


In the Scripture under consideration, Jesus compares the process of establishing His Kingdom by light that is shed all over the world. Again, light is the rules or principles of Jesus and His new Kingdom that is being established.

When God created this world, the first thing He created was light. That was physical light. Man, animals and plants, all live by using this light. Man and animals use it to go around to find or produce food. Plants absorb it through their leaves. They use the sunlight to turn the sap that comes through their roots into plant food by which they live. Light brings and sustains life.

The light which Jesus speaks about, is spiritual light. It is the light that enlightens the heart. It brings spiritual life to man. It gives man the option of eternel life with Jesus in heaven and after that, living on the new earth. It is therefor very important to man. In fact, Jesus not only sheds this light, but He is Light.

Joh 1:9  The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.

The light that Jesus brought, is the living of a holy life surrendered to Him. It includes trusting Him as Saviour which means, believing that by dying on the cross, He bought forgiveness for the person’s sin. His coming into a person’s life by His Holy Spirit is, in this Scripture, compared to the pouring of oil into an empty lamp and setting it alight. The person then becomes a distributor of light himself by the power of God living inside of him.


All people are like lamps, but they are lamps without light. A lamp is manufactured for the purpose of giving light, but it needs oil and fire. They cannot fill and light themselves. The buyer must fill them with oil and set them alight. You can have 50 lamps on the shelve of a shop. If the shopkeeper takes one, fills it with oil and lights it up, all the others will become visible. But they are only reflecting light. When the shopkeeper blows out the burning lamp, closes the door and leaves the shop for the night, the remaining lamps will be in the dark, having no light.

Yes, all people are like dark lamps. They need Jesus to light them up. But Jesus needs a lighted lamp to take the light to the dead lamps. They must see the light. They must see what they are supposed to be. They must become jealous and desire the light. They must desire to be able to shine. They must desire to become what Jesus made them to be. You may say that a lamp cannot desire light. Yes, you are right; but a human being can.


Verse 17 says that the light will reveal all hidden things. Lamps on a shelf will become dirty. So do the lives of people without God’s light and His hand handling and cleaning them. A lighted lamp will reveal a dead lamp’s gathered dirt, his spiritual dirt which no longer bothers him. Anything done in secret and not known to others will be seen.

Unlighted people live by the light of their own thoughts, their own perception of what is good and what not. They also live according to the light, the opinion of the community in which they live. The light that man produces come from his mind and is strongly influenced by the wickedness of his heart. His light is actually darkness.


When an owner of a lamps walks around in the dark without lighting it, very soon he is going to bump into something, stumble and fall and the lamp will be destroyed or seriously damaged and will never be able to give light. People without the light of Jesus, do likewise. They blunder around in the dark, step in the wrong direction, trip over unseen obstacles, fall and hurt themselves and many die. They do not realize the danger in which they are. 


Selfishness is darkness. Putting yourself first. Taking as much out of life as you can, saving it in a storehouse or bank. Buying what you heart longs for. Keeping other people under your foot. Giving them no chance to get up to your level. Stealing as much as you can as long as you are not caught. Associating with important people that can help you but turning your back upon those that need your help. This kind of human light, human wisdom, God calls darkness.


Having seen the purpose and worth of light, we can understand why Jesus speaks so strongly against hiding a lighted lamp.  A person that has been enlightened has received a very precious gift from God and must use it to enlighten others too. Jesus gave us the forgiveness of our sins freely. He also gave us the oil of the Holy Spirit freely. We, the redeemed, must shine forth the light freely. Some people will benefit by it and Jesus will be glorified.


Covering a lighted lamp under a bucket or pushing it underneath a bed, seems unbelievably silly. Why would someone do that? Is it not meant to be put on a stand so that everybody can benefit thereby? Is both lamp and oil not wasted? Well the same question can be applied to a spiritual lamp. Keeping your light for yourself, is silly and is sin.

How do we do that? By reading our Bibles at home, going to church on a Sunday and worshippping God in songs of praise, but not letting the light shine forth from our lives amongst unbelievers by living a holy life and speaking boldly of His goodness.

This is a selfish thing to do, greatly displeases God and very soon He will uncover it.  He will remove that thing with which you are covering your light.  He will remove the bucket and even the bed and people will see how selfish you are or how scared you are and you will be put to shame. The Lord will even chastise you for being ashamed of Him.


You may cover your lamp because you are scared of loosing your job.  Your employer may want you to do things which is sin and a disgrace to the Name, but instead of speaking up, you keep quiet for you fear that he may discharge you.  The people working next to you may be cheating, taking some of their employer’s funds or property for themselves and you know about it, but you hide this knowledge from your employer because you fear that these people will take revenge.  You are hiding under the bed.  People may be using the Name of God in vain but you laugh along with them.  You are covering your light.


If a lamp is covered under a bucket, it will not receive sufficient air to burn and may go out.  If you cover your light, your faith may die. See verse 18:

18  Be careful therefore how you hear. For whoever has, to him will be given; and whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he thinks he has.” 

When you shine your light, God will increase you insight into the treasures of God’s secrets, but if you receive light by hearing and do not shine it out, you will lose it.

If, for instance, a school refuses the Light, the devil will take over. A certain principal refused the Gospel to be preached in his school. One day the students were horrified to find a newborn baby dead in the toilet.  One of the girls had given berth to an illegitimate child and then drowned it because she did not want it. If the light had been shining brightly in that school, she might not have fallen into sin and if she had, she would not have sinned further by killing her own child.


1. We may light up the lamps of others

You may be the first one in your home, or the first student in your class to receive the light of God. Now lift it up onto a high stand so that everyone can see it.  Those around you will soon discover that their own lamps are not burning.  They will come to you and enquire how you received the light.  As you tell them, they will open up their lamps, that is their hearts, and God will pour in His Holy Spirit and light them up too.  Very soon the light will shine from every window of that home or classroom and more and more people will be attracted to it.  A whole village may be lighted up because of one person lifting up his light to shine.

2. Your light will protect you from the devil

By lifting up our lights to shine, we protect ourselves from the devil.  In Rev 12:11 the Word of God speaks of Christians that have triumphed over the devil and it says:

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” 

The more a Christian allows the Lord to shine through his life by his verbal testimony and by the pure life that he lives, the more he will overcome the attacks of the devil. 

They say that an animal or a human that fears, gives off a certain smell.  They call it the smell of fear.  Such an animal or person will more readily be attacked by vicious dogs. If you keep quiet, the devil will smell your fear and he will attack you from all sides, but the brighter your light shines, the more he will fear you for he fears the light for the light exposes his bad character, words and deeds.  He will attack you, yes, but if you answer the attacks from God’s Word, he will very soon have to flee.

3. The more shining lights, the safer the area. 

Thieves fear street lights. If the light of Christ is shining brightly in a village, evildoers will flee from it and operate in some other town and village, but if we hide it it will be dark all around and the devil and his evil disciples will run all over the place.  Christians often suffer because of their own disobedience.


Joh 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn’t overcome it. 

Let me, in closing, encourage you by saying that the light is much more powerful than the darkness.  It can be a pitch black night, but even one little match or a small candle or the globe of a small torch can dispel the darkness around you.  It can help you to find the snake in your room so that you can kill it. Let us therefore be bright shining lamps in this dark world.


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