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Matthew 5:14-16

Matthew 5:14-16


Sermon: You are the Light for the World
Bible Passage: Matthew 5:14-16

1. These verses are part of the Sermon on the Mount (location is northeast of Galilee/Capernaum)
2. East of the Sermon on the Mount (Capernaum) is Decapolis “Ten Cities”
3. One of the Decapolis is “The city on the Hill” which in Hebrew is “Susita” and in Greek “Hippo”
4. Photographs: Susita, lamp, and Meteora

I. The metaphor “light” (“light” a quality, it represents something!)

1. God is light (1 John 1:5; Isa 60:19-20; Ps 27:1)
2. Jesus is light (John 8:12, 9:5; cf. 1:4-5)
3. Israel is light (Isa 42:6; Isa 51:4-5)
4. Light represents purity, truth, goodness, and divine revelation (and many more)

II. Verse 14a: “you are the light for the world” (“light” is a metaphor)

1. Let’s unmask the metaphor! (different translations of verse 14a)

a. You [the church] carry the characteristics of light such as purity, truth, and goodness for the benefit of the world that is characterized by darkness
b. You [the church] are the repository of God’s qualities that are meant for the benefit of the world
c. You [the church] are equipped to influence the world that is filled with the characteristics of darkness
d. You [the church] are appointed to carry God’s light to the dark world

i. The primary property of light is to shine
ii. Consequently, what is hidden is exposed
iii. Lights helps those who are groping in darkness to find guidance

e. Jesus asserts that Christians are agents of positive change—they have positive roles to play in society
f. If the world is not to be left in darkness, Jesus-followers must fulfill their calling

III. Two validations from real life to affirm what Jesus just asserted:

1. “A city located on a hill cannot be hidden” (possibly, Susita)—visibility
2. “People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand”—influence
3. Christians must not withdraw from the world, but they need to make intentional effort to be visible to influence the society

a. Spirituality is not in seclusion, but in living out to make difference
b. Jesus expected His followers to play social roles (no one lights up a lamp and keeps it under a bushel!)
c. The followers of Jesus are built for prominence, not to remain hidden

IV. Verse 16 “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven”

1. “In the same way” is a correlative adverb referring to what precedes—the City on the Hill and the lampstand
2. “Let your shine your light before people”—needs to be visible and influential
3. There needs to have an active effort (place yourself to be visible)
4. The followers of Jesus must play a wider role in the society
5. “Let your light shine”—i.e., the truth, purity, transformation, etc., that you have received from God through Jesus must be lived out

a. Christians probably are becoming invisible, silent, keeping it under the bushel (invisible light!!)
b. Christians cannot be invisible Christians—they need to be in public square
c. A Christian does not have inherent light in him
d. It is a borrowed light from God through Jesus
e. “Let your light shine before people” implies intentional efforts (i.e., to keep looking to Jesus)

6. “They might see your good works”

a. The pronoun “they” represents those who do not know God through Jesus
b. “Good works” represent good deeds

7. “They might glorify your Father, who is in Heaven”—the shining of light and good works is for the glory of the Father

a. “Your Father in Heaven”—intimacy
b. The church is the pointer to God the Father

V. Observations

1. A local church is God’s light bearer
2. If there is darkness in the society, it is because God’s light bearers have isolated or in disobedience of keeping the light hidden
3. Jesus did not intend seclusion for His followers
4. There is nothing called “Sunday Christianity”
5. Crossroad Church needs to become the church for the city and church for the nation

Take Away:

Move from seclusion to public because God has placed something in you that this society needs

Speaker: William J. Subash

Born and raised in south India, William J. Subash became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1983 at the age of nineteen. After a brief career in a tea and coffee plantation, Subash decided to spend rest of his life to preach about Jesus and his life-transforming message of God, which is popularly known as “the Gospel.” Subash teaches New Testament Studies at two institutions: SAIACS in India and Liberty University Online, VA, USA. Currently, Subash serves as the chief point person for GROW Gospel Initiatives and the Lead Pastor of the Crossroad Church, Bangalore. Write to him at