Greatly Advantaged 6/8

Jesus took objects in the view of his listeners as emblems by which to teach his truth. The people had come together to hear him while it was yet early morning. The glorious sun, climbing higher and higher in the blue sky, was chasing away the shadows that lurked in the valleys and among the narrow defiles of the mountains. The glory of the eastern heavens had not yet faded out. The sunlight flooded the land with its splendour, the placid surface of the lake reflected the golden light, and mirrored the rosy clouds of morning. Every bud and flower and leafy spray glistened with dew-drops. Nature smiled under the benediction of a new day, and the birds sang sweetly among the spreading trees. The Saviour looked upon the company before him, and then upon the rising sun, and said to his disciples, “Ye are the light of the world.” The figure was peculiarly striking. As the sun lit up the landscape with his genial rays and scattered the shades of night, so the disciples were to diffuse the light of truth, and scatter the moral darkness that brooded over the world. In the brilliant light of morning the towns and villages situated upon the surrounding hills stood forth clearly and made an attractive feature of the scene. Jesus, pointing to them said, “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” In these words Jesus taught his disciples that if they wished to direct others in the path of righteousness, their own example should be correct, and their acts reflect the light of truth. 

Moral disease abounds, and darkness covers the earth; but the disciples of Christ are represented as lights shining amid the gloom of night. Those rays reveal the dangers that lie in the sinner’s path, and point the true way to righteousness and safety. If those who profess to be Christ’s followers, and to have the light of truth, are not careful to present that truth to others in a proper manner, those who are in the darkness of error will see no beauty in it. In carrying a lantern on a dark night, to light the way for one who is following, the bearer sometimes becomes careless, and permits his person to interpose between the light and the one whom he is guiding, and the darkness of the way is rendered more intense to him from the temporary light that has been shed upon it. So with many who essay to present the truth of God to others; they hide the precious light with their own defective characters, which stand out darkly conspicuous in their deformity, and turn many from the truth. The characters of the professed followers of Christ should be so admirable, and their deeds so exemplary, that the world will be attracted toward a religion that bears such fruits of righteousness. They will thus be led to investigate and embrace its principles from the fact that the lives of its representatives shine forth with such holiness that they are the beacon lights of the world. 

The Pharisees shut themselves away from the world, and thereby made it impossible for them to exert an influence over the people of the world; but Jesus names his disciples the “light the world.” Their teachings and example are to scatter the clouds of error, and all nations and people are to feel their influence. The religion of the Bible is not to be confined between two covers nor within the walls of a church. It is not to be brought out only occasionally simply for our own benefit, and then carefully laid aside again, but it is to sanctify the daily life, to manifest itself in every business transaction and in all the social relations of life. Such a religion was in marked contrast with that of the Pharisees, which consisted only in the hollow observance of rules and ceremonies, and shed no ennobling influence over their lives. 

Jesus was closely watched by spies, who were ready to seize any unguarded word that might drop from his lips. The Saviour was well aware of the prejudice existing in the minds of many of his hearers. He said nothing to unsettle the faith of the Jews in the religion and institutions of Moses. The same voice that declared the moral and ceremonial law, which was the foundation of the whole Jewish system, also uttered the words of instruction on the mount. It was because of his great reverence for the law and the prophets that Jesus sought to break through the wall of superstitious exactions that hemmed in the Jews. He wished them not only to observe the law, but to develop the principles of that law and the teachings of the prophets. 

Jesus severely criticized the false interpretations which the Jews had given to the law, yet he sufficiently guarded his disciples against the danger of yielding up the vital truths given to the Hebrews. Jesus came not to destroy their confidence in the instruction which he himself had given them through Moses in the wilderness. But, while he taught them due reverence for that law, he desired to lead them on to higher truths and a greater knowledge, that they might advance into clearer light.  {2SP 214-17}