Tag Archives: The Way

The Sermon, part 3: The Light and the City

Read Matthew 5:14-16

“He says, ‘You will do more than restore the people of Israel to Me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Isaiah 49:6 NLT)

r4x3-1600Have you ever been in hiking in the woods at night? I have been. For anyone who has been camping, you know that it is pitch black in the forest at night. When I was a teenager, I went on an all night excursion on the Appalachian Trail with a couple of my friends.  I can remember how our parents were not so happy with us for doing that because of the danger of walking around the woods, over rough terrain, in the pitch-black darkness. Thankfully, we did have a couple of flashlights, otherwise we may not have been so lucky as it was really dark in there.

Speaking of flashlights, that brings me to this devotion’s focus within the famed Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells his disciples that they are the light of the world. What could Jesus possibly mean by saying that the disciples are the light of the world? What is the purpose of a light, such as a lit candle, a lantern, a light bulb, or a flashlight? Why would anyone turn on a light?

For those who are thinking in terms of a “spotlight”, I would caution them to pause and look at the context of the passage. Jesus calls his disciples the light of the world and then reminds them that the purpose of a light and/or a lamp is best served on a stand, as opposed to being hidden under a basket. Why is that? Because, a lamp on a stand gives off light to everyone in the house, allowing them to see their surroundings and find their way from room to room without stumbling.

In other words, the light Jesus is referring to is the kind of light that points the way. It is the light that illumines the area for all to see where they are going. The purpose of the light is not to draw attention to the lamp, but to “The Way.” The disciples, according to Jesus’ metaphor, are the lamps that shine the light out for the world. The light is not shining for the world to see them, but for the world to see “the Way”, which is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Along side of this metaphor Jesus puts forth another one, only that this one stands in contrast to the other. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” This metaphor points us to an inherent truth of what it means to be Christ’s disciples, as well as what it means to be the bearer of the light. Though these two metaphors are in contrast with one another, they are so purposefully and the one cannot work without the other.

If you have ever gone to the city of San Francisco, it is a magnificent city to see. It rolls up and down hills and is impossible to miss as you approach it. Jerusalem was also a city on a hill and Jesus’ metaphor is also a warning. In Isaiah 2:2-5; 42:6; 49:6, we see that God refers to Israel, and Jerusalem, as being the light for the gentiles. God had planned for God’s people to be the city on the hill, for all to see. It was by the example of Israel, by their righteous (just) living, and by their visible relationships with neighbor, with each other, and with God that the world was to be redeemed. God had hoped that people would see Israel, as a younger sibling looks up to their older brother or sister, and follow their lead.

Unfortunately, time and time again that had failed to come to fruition. Israel split from Judah, Judah became as corrupt as the next kingdom, and the people had failed to truly witness to the world the hope, healing and wholeness that God was offering to the world. Jesus’ metaphor is reminding his disciples that Israel’s call is their call, that God is wanting them to live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their Lord. In doing so, the world would see them and follow their lead. Yet, as the light metaphor reminds us, it wouldn’t be them that the world would be actually seeing and following, rather it would be “The Way” to which they are pointing.

In order for people to see Christ through us, we have to be visible to them. We have to truly display Christ in our lives, in our attitudes, in our actions, and in everything we do. When our actions, words, thoughts, and examples are mirror reflections of the world around us, we fail to be the city on the hill, we fail to be the lamp on the stand, and we fail to be the light of the world. The question for us is, will we let the world get the best of us and fail in our mission. Will we be agents of division, politics, biterness, strife, enmity, and the things of this world, or will we be Christ’s lamp on a stand, like a city on a hill, visibly representing Christ and shining the light on “The Way” that is Jesus Christ? Now is the time to choose.

“The lamp burns bright when the wick and oil are clean.” – Ovid

Lord, clean my wick and fill me with your holy oil that I may burn bright and shine the light on the way. Amen.

THE WAY, Part 2

Read Matthew 4:17-25


“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:3-4, NLT)

the-way-1Just the other night I watched a film that I had been meaning to watch for the past couple of years. Being a busy person, I kept forgetting about it until the other night. I was perusing Netfilx and I came across the movie, “The Way,” and remembered that I wanted to see it. The film was written and directed by Emilio Estevez and stars his father, Martin Sheen.

The film is about a father who discovers that his son died during a storm while backpacking on the Camino de Santiago (“The Way of St. James”), which is of various lengths depending on where you start. The father, who spontaneously decides to complete his son’s trek, started in France and traveled by foot approximately 800 km or 497 miles. Along the way, the father meets and, eventually befriends, several people along the way.

In a flashback scene, the father is remembering an argument he had with his son. He wasn’t happy with his son’s life choices, and he thought his 40 year old son’s passion for world travel was frivolous. In the argument his son questions him on why he doesn’t just go on the trip with him. He also questions why his dad insists on basing his life around work and other such things. His father replies, “You may not think much of my life, but it’s the one I choose.”

At that moment his son replies, “You don’t choose a life dad, you live one.” Wow, what words of wisdom. His father didn’t reply to him that day, which would be the last day he ever saw his son alive, but those words forever echoed in his head. “You don’t choose a life dad, you live one.” His son had hit upon something that would take him an 800 km trek to discover.

We often go about our daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly routines as if we have chosen the lives we have. But have we? Did you choose to be born? Did you choose what family you were born into? Did you choose what schools you were first educated in? Did you choose every last detail of your life? The fact is, while we do have and make choices that affect our lives, we do not choose our lives. They are a gift given to us by God through our parents. Life is a gift that is meant to be used, and used abundantly.

Along The Way, the father discovers that life is meant to be lived and he discovers that living life means living it in the company of others, even those who seem worlds apart from who you are. We do not get to choose our lives, but we do get to choose to live them and to be a presence of hope and faith, of love, support and encouragement for others along the way of our life’s journey.

Christ calls us, as his disciples, to live life through sharing in the journey with others. Jesus was not just one person out in the country side, choosing his life all by himself; rather, he chose to journey with and encourage others who rather different than him. Sometimes their differences were downright frustrating; yet, Jesus chose to love them. From that loving bond came an even larger community of people who chose to join in with them, a community that continues on to this day through the Church. Today’s challenge is for you to stop pretending you choose your life and start living it. Live it in the presence of the people around you and live it in, through and with love! That is THE WAY to the Kingdom of Heaven.


Make Jesus the way you live your life.


Lord, I want to be more like you. Though I do not choose my life, I choose to live my life for you. Amen.