A Lamp on a Stand

lamp 2

Q. In Lk 8:16-18, what does the lamp on a stand mean? Has it anything to do with the customs then?

A. First let’s look at Lk 8:16-18:
Lk 8:16-18 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put 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. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

Observation:
Three places are mentioned where a lighted lamp could be put:
• in a clay jar;
• under a bed;
• on a stand.
Two principles are then drawn:
• Everything hidden/concealed will be disclosed;
• Whoever has will be given more.

Similar observations are given in parallel passages, except a “bowl” is used instead of a “clay jar”:
Mt 5:15-16 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
• Mk 4:21-22 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.
• Lk 11:33 No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.

Interpretation:
The lamp represents one’s life, in particular a lighted lamp a person who knows God (Mt 5:18 You are the light of the world). The light represents his good deeds (Mt 5:16). The normal place to put a lamp is on a stand, where everyone may see the light. It should not be placed under a bowl or a bed, where the light is wasted. The bowl is used for food, and represents making a living. The bed represents marriage (Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure). Life could be “wasted” by preoccupation with earning a living, or the welfare of the family. Both are necessary, but should not be allowed to smother one’s light.

Truth cannot be hidden. It will eventually be brought out into the open. If we have God’s truth, we have the responsibility to make it known, just as if we have the cure for cancer, we have responsibility to tell others and not keep quiet. God will give us opportunities to share the good news. If we make use of these opportunities, God will sharpen our witness and give us more opportunities. We go from strength to strength (Ps 84:7). If we keep silent, God will put us on the sideline and won’t use us anymore. The principle behind “whoever has will be given more” is “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things (Mt 25:21, 23)“. God tests us and rewards those who are faithful.

Application:
I don’t know your specific circumstances, so you have to come up with your own applications unique to your situation. But several principles are obvious:
• We should let our light shine to glorify the Father, and keep our livelihood and family in their proper place.
• We need to seize the opportunities to speak up and not be afraid.
• The more we share, the better we will be at it. Practice makes perfect.

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