Where, in your heart, do you place the lamp – light? Do you hide it in a jar? Do you shove it under a bed? Or, is it elevated exposing everything ‘so that those who come in can see the light?’ What do others see when they see you at work? How are you seen at home by your spouse or children? How does your life look?

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 8

By Delbert Young

This Little Light of Mine? (8:16-21)

This Little Light of Mine? - video audio (8:16-21)

Sermon video

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This Little Light of Mine? – Luke 8:16-21

Scriptures: Luke 8:16-17; Luke 8:18; Luke 8:10; Psalms 119:105; Philippians 2:15; Luke 8:19-20; Mark 3:21; Mark 3:31-32; Luke 8:21; James 1:22-25

We are learning how, after about a year to a year and a half, the ministry of Jesus Christ made a transition. Jesus no longer taught and explained as he had before. He now spoke to the crowds only in parables.

He told the parable of the Seed and the Sower. His disciples came to Jesus and asked him what the parable meant. As we saw, the parabolic teaching was about how and why hearts hear and respond to the word of God differently. After explaining the parable, Jesus immediately said,

Luke 8:16-17 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

What’s firing up a lamp got to do with seed and paths and rocks and thorns and dirt? He’s talking, but not making sense. Had Jesus lost his mind? Actually, as we will see shortly, some people were beginning to think he had. I do know one thing. He’s been talking about the importance of listening and if we’re going to keep up, we best hone our listening skills and pay attention.

Jesus didn’t changed topics. The “This Little Light of Mine” parable is also teaching about the importance of listening. I know that by the very next verse.

Luke 8:18 THEREFORE CONSIDER CAREFULLY HOW YOU LISTEN. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

As we saw last time, the parable of the Seed and the Sower is about listening to the word of God. The “Lighting a Lamp” parable is also about how you listen. Remember, last time when Jesus said,

(NLT) Luke 8:10 He replied, “You have been permitted to understand THE SECRETS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. But I am using these stories to conceal everything about it from OUTSIDERS, so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘They see what I do, but they don’t really see; they hear what I say, but they don’t understand.’

Everyone isn’t supposed to get it. Some people will always think Jesus is a lunatic, but I know he’s Lord. I want to get it. I want to be an insider. How about you? So, the warning is you must learn to listen. Jesus said one of the most important things about being in the kingdom of God is learning to be a deep listener.

We are warned over and over throughout the Bible to listen. As we mentioned last time, in the natural, the best listeners are the best achievers in life. In school, they achieve higher scores. In the market place, they achieve the best positions.

Listening well is a big deal to God. God repeatedly instructs us to listen, listen, listen, and listen throughout the scriptures. “Hear” and “listen” are found around 437 times in the New Testament. That’s not counting the Old Testament. Do we listen? How many of us are deep listeners?

I’ll use this as an example. It’s pointed at us husbands, but we will all get the point. Husbands, you are sitting at home watching TV, or reading, just sitting doing whatever you do. You hear someone saying something, but it’s sort of off in the background. Then you hear your wife say something like this: “What do you think about that?” Oh no! You don’t want her to know you weren’t listening to her again. You attempt to recall something, anything you heard – nothing. So you smile and say, “I think that’s a great idea.” She says, “What! You think that’s great? How can you possibly think that’s great? I can’t believe you said that!” You realize you guessed wrong, so you attempt to fix it and say something like, “What I mean is, it would be great if it was different.” She gives you that look and says, “You weren’t listening to me were you?” Anything like that ever happened in your home?

I used us men because everyone – wives, children, and men – have seen this universal event happen. The truth is we all become focused on other things and we aren’t listening deeply to God. We know he’s talking. We hear his voice in the background, but when the big life questions come (and they always do), it’s obvious; we were not listening – again. It’s called selective listening. We listen to what we want to listen. Jesus said, “Fix that, or you’ll miss the kingdom.”

God says this is a big deal. The life we live now and, more importantly, our eternal lives are directly connected with how well we listen.

Luke 8:18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. WHOEVER HAS WILL BE GIVEN MORE; WHOEVER DOES NOT HAVE, EVEN WHAT HE THINKS HE HAS WILL BE TAKEN FROM HIM.

The quality of life we enjoy, or do not enjoy, is in direct proportion to how we listen. The quality of life we can expect to have in years to come is in direct proportion to how well we listen. Not much in life is more important than being a deep listener.

The type listener we are exposes our spiritual condition. We can all read words in the bible, or hear someone talking about God’s word, but the question is how deeply do we listen? Do you simply read, or do you read deeply? Does what you hear and what you read light up your life? If not, then you are not a good listener and the quality of life you have now is not good and the quality of life you can expect to have will not be good meaning all aspects of life – marriage, family, children, finances, occupation, spiritual, everything.

Luke 8:16 “NO ONE LIGHTS A LAMP AND HIDES IT in a jar or puts it under a bed. INSTEADHE PUTS IT ON A STAND, so that those who come in can see the light.

We realize their lamps were pottery bowls containing oil and a wick. Jesus said, “No one lights a lamp and hides it…” No one does this. It’s an absurdity. It’s ludicrous. Jesus probably said it in humor as a joke. Anyone doing this is illogical and would be considered an idiot. Neither does anyone put a fired lamp under a bed – another absurdity – hyperbolic. What a joke that person would be. He would burn the bed. Instead, he elevates the lamp so “those who come in can see the light.”

So, if this is a lesson in listening, how do I listen to a lit lamp? It’s parabolic and Jesus taught us how to properly interpret his parables in 8:10-15. Let’s look again at the definition of parable – parabole {par-ab-ol-ay’} – a placing of one thing by the side of another; a narrative, instructive saying, involving some likeness or comparison. If we do as Jesus taught us to do, we first put in place the parable – a lit lamp placed in a Jar, or under a bed, or on a stand. Then we place alongside his context. That is carefully listening. The importance of the positioning of the lit lamp becomes the ability to deeply listen. Hiding the lamp is not listening and doing idiotic, absurd, and ridiculous things. What is the lamp? Throughout the scriptures, the lamp is the word of God.

Psalms 119:105 YOUR WORD is a LAMP to my feet and a light for my path.

The parable is about the positioning of the word of God in my life. The positioning makes the difference between having a laughed at life, an absurd life, a burned up life, a life of doing ludicrous things, like no one should do, or having a successful life illuminated with understanding and wisdom for now, my future, and eternally.

We sang it, and our children sing it, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine…” I don’t want a “little light.” I want a torch or a flood light. How about you? When we place God’s word in an elevated place in our lives by listening to it deeply, we have a kingdom life – abundant life (Joh 10:10).

So, where, in your heart, do you place the lamp? Do you hide it in a jar? Do you shove it under a bed? Or, is it elevated exposing everything “so that those who come in can see the light?” What do others see when they see you at work? How are you seen at home by your spouse or children? How does your life look?

Luke 8:16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, SO THAT THOSE WHO COME IN CAN SEE THE LIGHT.

It’s not so others coming in can see to maneuver. It’s so “those who come in can see the light.” The light is what they see. I looked at several translations and it appears the proper translation is others see the light. People can’t but notice when God’s word is properly positioned in a life. Our lives shine. Students in school illuminate/shine – there’s something different. Our families illuminate/shine – our families are different. Our finances illuminate/shine. Our children illuminate/shine. The way we do our occupation is illuminated – we shine. We’re honest. We excel. Those who come in can see the light.

Philippians 2:15 …You are to live clean, innocent lives as CHILDREN OF GOD in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. LET YOUR LIVES SHINE BRIGHTLY before them.

People see the light and people are attracted to light. How well we shine in life is associated with how deeply we’ve listen.

Luke 8:17-18 FOR there is NOTHING HIDDEN that will not be disclosed, and NOTHING CONCEALED that will not be known or brought out into the open.

As we deeply, carefully listen to the word of God, it’s placed on the stand of importance in our heart where it does its job. It lights up and exposes everything – nothing is hidden. Jesus admonished us to expose it now. Deal with it before it deals with you and it will. One day, lying will deal with you. One day, your lust will deal with you. One day, your finances will deal with you. One day, a secret addiction will deal with you. Jesus said deal with it first. Allow God’s word to expose it.

So, we’re in this deep thought about deep listening when we run face first into this next scripture.

Luke 8:19-20 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

This passage seems out of place and even unnecessary. However, it is at the very heart of, and the summation of, what we’ve studied the past two lessons – deeply listening to God’s word.

Jesus was a phenom. Even the family of Jesus couldn’t get through the crowds. Mary should have some family privileges, right? I mean, come on. This is Mary! I’ll show us in just a moment how this is about the importance of listening, but first, I want to bring in comments about this incident from Mark.

Mark 3:21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “HE IS OUT OF HIS MIND.”

Mark 3:31-32 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

(This passage doesn’t work for Catholicism which teaches Mary was a perpetual virgin all her life. To be brothers (and sisters – Mar 6:3) Mary and Joseph obviously experienced physical relationships.)

I said last time if I were to come one Sunday, tell a ridiculous story about seed, paths, rocks, thorns, and dirt then say, “Thanks for coming. See you next week. Hope you heard it. Goodbye,” you would say, “Delbert’s lost his mind.” That’s what people were saying about Jesus, but not only people out there. His own family thought he’d lost it. The Pharisees and Sadducees were saying Jesus was demon possessed by Beelzebub. Was Jesus a lunatic?

Sometimes people think a person is wacky when they deeply listen to God’s word. My mother, who I loved desperately and loved me more, said when she learned I was considering leaving a very good paying job to go into the ministry, “Don’t go overboard with religious stuff.” She didn’t see how my being a pastor could produce the lifestyle I then experienced. She was correct. It didn’t. It produced a far better life of which she later told me. Mary was concerned about Jesus’ welfare. She was protecting her boy.

How does that hook up with how we carefully and deeply listen to the word of God? They told Jesus his mom and brothers wanted to see him. Next verse…

Luke 8:21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who HEAR GOD’S WORD AND PUT IT INTO PRACTICE.”

Without grasping the context of what Jesus previously taught, this sounds crude, rude, and mean. It sounds disrespectful as if Jesus “dissed” his mother and family. In our culture, we are semi use to children disrespecting parents, but then (and in some cultures today with Sharia law), you could be stoned or beheaded! When Jesus said this, there was a shocking gasp, exactly what Jesus wanted. He made a huge point we can’t miss.

Here’s the point. We are not in relationship with Jesus unless we “hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Jesus showed us even his own mother and brothers must “hear God’s word and put it into practice” to be in relationship with him. This is a big deal! A “sinner’s prayer” doesn’t make a person a child of God. Raising your hand at the end of our service doesn’t bring you into the family of God. Preachers have sometimes soft soaped this and, I fear, deceived people. A “sinner’s prayer” is important and a great place to begin, but unless we hear God’s word and practice it, we are having a fictitious experience. How clear can it be? James was the Lord Jesus’ half-brother. He wrote,

(TMB) James 1:22-25 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are A LISTENER when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. ACT ON WHAT YOU HEAR! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God–the free life!–even out of the corner of his eye, AND STICKS WITH IT, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. THAT PERSON WILL FIND DELIGHT AND AFFIRMATION IN THE ACTION.

Jesus said the people who have a relationship with him are THOSE WHO HEAR GOD’S WORD AND PUT IT INTO PRACTICE. They are lamps set high, lighting the house. They have learned to carefully and deeply listen to the word of God with their hearts. They have plowed the path soil. They have dug out the rocks. They have pulled the thorns. They have received the seed of God’s word. They have positioned the lamp of God’s word in their lives where it will reveal everything. When people see them, they see the light. They are practicing what they have heard.

Other Related Sermons:

Are You Listening to the Word of God? – video audio notes Luke 8:4-15

Excitement of Christianity – Easter sermon video audio notes

The Promise – Easter sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young