The value of the lighted lamp (Mt 5:15-5:16)

“No one,

After lighting a lamp,

Puts it

Under a bushel,

But on the lampstand.

It gives light

To all in the house.

In the same way,

Let your light

Shine before others,

So that they may see

Your good works.

They give glory

To your Father,

Who is in heaven.”

 

οὐδὲ καίουσιν λύχνον καὶ τιθέασιν αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν, καὶ λάμπει πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ.

οὕτως λαμψάτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅπως ἴδωσιν ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα καὶ δοξάσωσιν τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

 

This saying of Jesus can be found in Mark, chapter 4:21, and Luke, chapter 8:16. This time, Matthew is closer to Luke. After lighting a lamp (καίουσιν λύχνον), no one puts it under a bushel (οὐδὲ… καὶ τιθέασιν αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον), but rather on a lampstand (ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν). Thus, the light from the lit candle lamp would shine on everyone in the house (καὶ λάμπει πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ). Once again, Matthew, instead of leaving it generic, applied this to his disciples. Their light should shine before other men (οὕτως λαμψάτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων). Thus, others would see their good works, (ὅπως ἴδωσιν ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα), since it was not about faith alone. The ultimate result would be that others would glorify their heavenly father (καὶ δοξάσωσιν τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς). This is the first mention of their father in heaven (τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς), since the scene after the Baptism of Jesus just had a voice from heaven (φωνὴ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν) talk about his beloved son, not explicitly the heavenly father.

John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus

Although Matthew did not show the same relationship of Jesus and John the Baptist as cousins, as it was in Luke, chapter 1:36, he still has them as familiar to each other.  They were at a minimum, friends.  In this portrayal, Jesus came to John, not the other way around.  John was already an established preacher, baptizing in the Jordan River.  Did they have the same message or was it different?  In one sense, both John and Jesus wanted people to repent, since the kingdom of heaven was near.  However, there are no indications in the biblical texts that Jesus was baptizing people the way that John was doing it.  Thus, they might have been semi-co-workers without any formal relationship established, although John the Baptist would appear again in this gospel story of Matthew.  Clearly, John the Baptist baptizing Jesus at the Jordan River stands as the beginning of the public life of Jesus, both here and in the other three canonical gospel accounts of Mark, Luke, and John.  Jesus became someone special as “the anointed one,” “Χριστος,” “the Christ,” from this moment on.  Was there any particular self-realization on the part of Jesus here?  How did the disciples of these two men work with each other?  What was the reaction of Jesus to the post-baptismal event, when God, the Father, sent his Spirit, the dove, to empower Jesus, before he could begin his public ministry?  God clearly announced that Jesus was his beloved son.  With his prophetic divine vocation revealed, Jesus was ready to begin his public ministry of healing and exorcising.  Jesus had come to proclaim his ethical judgment of righteousness during this messianic time when the fullness of the Holy Spirit would come to all the followers of Jesus.