He keeps my lamp burning


“Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven
about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)


When John the Baptist was born, his father Zechariah saw a new day coming for the people of Israel. A new day, springing from the tender mercy of God. 

Zechariah’s prophecy spoke of light from heaven bursting into human history—Jesus. Light from the merciful Creator, Light to break the darkness enveloping the world He had created and loved.

Even after we know Christ, we may sometimes sit in darkness. It may be the darkness of hard times, darkness because we do not understand and still have things to learn, darkness because of our own bad choices, or the darkness of the shadow of death. 

Jesus brings light to our darknesses. His life brought light to everyone,  John writes about Jesus. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.  

He comes into our lives to give light. No matter how our darkness feels today, God’s tender mercy, His compassionate love for us, breaks whatever darkness fills our lives. What is it you need? Healing? Cleansing of a bitter heart? Understanding? Forgiveness? Hope? Eyes to see Him? Faith? Unconditional love?

Jesus said, “If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

King David certainly had dark times in his life. But his song was this,

You light a lamp for me.
The LORD my God lights up my darkness. 

God’s tender mercy promises that He will also light a lamp for us.   

Scripture: John 1:4-5; John 8:12; Psalm 18:26 (all NLT)

 More on the promise of Light that gives life: Psalm 27:1; Psalm 56:13; Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 49:9; Isaiah 60:20; Micah 7:8; Matthew 4:16; John 12:46; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 2:9-10; 1 John 5:12,10;

Then, scum. Now, the light of the world.

What was Matthew thinking?

The background stories of many of Jesus’ disciples are sketchy. The Gospels say almost nothing about some of the Twelve. But Matthew’s story is told in Mark 2. He was one of the Jews who worked for Rome, collecting taxes from his own people for the despised Roman government. The Jews looked at such men with scorn and hatred.

One day Jesus saw Matthew at his tax collector’s booth and asked Matthew to be his disciple. Matthew walked away from his job immediately.

Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to dinner. He also invited lots of his own friends, tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. Mark’s account tells us that there were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.

You can picture the scandal. Of course, the Pharisees pounced on this (with great delight, I imagine) and started the talk: Why does he eat with such scum?

Chances are, that wasn’t the only time Matthew heard such comments. Maybe even among Jesus’ followers, there was some whispering, some reluctance to forget that this man had worked against his own people. I’m just guessing. But we all know how difficult it is to be willing to wipe clean the slate of a person when he comes to Jesus. Our Father does it, though, and he’s trying to teach us. Sometimes, we’re very slow learners.

Maybe Matthew himself had trouble forgetting what he once was.

So what do you suppose Matthew was thinking when he heard Jesus say to the disciples,

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

I think it’s interesting that only Matthew records this remark from the Master. Maybe his ears picked it up, his heart skipped a beat, and the words echoed in his spirit for a long time.  He heard Jesus say it:  The tax collector, the scum, is going to be part of the light of the world.

I’m only guessing at that, of course, trying to imagine myself in Matthew’s shoes. And we are in his shoes. Jesus’ words were meant for you, too, child of God.

Whew. Do you feel ready to carry out that assignment? Ready to live up to the job description of “Light of the World” ? Or do you think that sounds a wee bit audacious, to think that YOU are the light of the world?

The one you follow, the one you call Lord, has said that you are.

Jesus said he came as the light of the world, so that mankind does not have to walk in darkness. Now he tells his disciples that they are also part of the lighting plan. This would include us, friends. God’s light shines into us, so that it will also shine out of us.

 So how does the scum turn out to be the light of the world?  More, in the next few days.

But for now, think about Christ lighting the world by lighting his candle within you and placing you where light is needed. And many candles, each lit by the Spirit of Christ within, stand together and become a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 

Scriptures: Mark 2:13-16, Matthew 5:14-15 (both NLT)