You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Jesus uses 2 examples to describe what he meant by “light of the world“.
- city on a hill
- lamp in the house
What is the difference between the light of the “city on a hill” and the “lamp in the house“?
The light of the city draws attention to the city itself. It is not to give light to its surroundings.
The light of the lamp is very functional. It is used to illuminate the surroundings. In most cases, the lamp is not even noticed by the people in the house. It does not draw attention to itself.
The sequence that the two metaphors were mentioned is significant too.
As the “light of the world“, we, by nature, draw attention to ourselves. Just like the “city on a hill“. Yet, we shall shine like a “lamp in a house“, illuminating for others.
How do we illuminate?
We illuminate with “good works” before men.
What do we illuminate?
We illuminate God the Father who is in heaven.
In short, our good works are to be like lights pointing men to God the Father. They are not to be used as qualifications to enter into God’s presence. As his children and heirs, we are already in His presence regardless our behaviour.