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Edward F. Markquart

Pastors, Bible Study Leaders, Educators:
Would you give me a few minutes of your reading time?
Briefly explore a sample lesson of a new Christ-centered, Bible study, The Life of Christ. This 54 week study will enrich the spiritual life of your congregation. It offers a wide variety of great resources and visual aids from the Internet.  Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.
Blessings to you this day.
Ed Markquart, Author of this website.
View sample lessons

Lenten Series

You are the Light of the World 

Matthew 5:16
Epiphany 5A   Matthew 5:16
Also Pentecost Sunday and Sermon on the Mount Lenten Dialogue Series

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

And from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


We are all familiar with that famous Sunday School song from childhood, This little light of mine.” Why, I remember when I was a child of seven years old when I was at Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church in Seattle, Washington, with the brown linoleum on the floor …

Why I remember singing that song in Jackson when I was seven years old and we had the same brown linoleum on the floor as well, and a Sunday School teacher put a candle into a cupcake and we all sang that song.

Let’s all do the chorus together.

The chorus: “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine;

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

We remember the first verse, “Hide it under a bushel” and then you had to shout the word, NO, so the angels in heaven could hear it. Let’s do it with the motions.

 “Hide it under a bushel, NO, I’m going to let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel, NO, I’m gunna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”  

Then the next verses was: Don’t let Satan blow it out and you have to do the motion of blowing your candle: Blow like you are blowing out a large number of birthday candles.

“Don’t let Satan blow it out. I’m gunna let it shine.

Don’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gunna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”  

I knew that Satan wanted to blow out my candle. I knew that Satan wanted to blow out my light of Christ, wanted to extinguish the light, wanted to dim my life .

The next verse was: Shine all over Jackson, but we don’t live in Jackson, so where do live, your city. You shout out your city as we sing the next verse of the song. Also you have to do the motion and make a big circle that symbolizes the area of your town. Jesus is to shine over your town through you:

“Shine all over Des Moines, I’m gunna let it shine.

Shine all over Des Moines, I’m gunna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”  

John :
The next verse to the song was: Let it shine til Jesus comes. We are to let our light shine until the very end of our days here on earth and until the day we meet Jesus Christ face to face. The motion with our arm and finger is to extend our arm and pointing finger as high into the air as we can. Let’s do it together, with the motion.

 “Let it shine til Jesus comes, I’m gunna let it shine.

Let it shines til Jesus comes, I’m gunna let it shine…”

And I knew what this meant as a seven year old. I knew that I was to let the light of Christ shine throughout my whole lifetime.  At seven years old, seventeen, twenty-seven, or thirty-seven or seventy-seven or eighty-seven. I knew that throughout my whole life long, I was to let my light shine.

The mood of the song was not, “I have to let it shine, or I ought to let it shine or I must let it shine. I should let it shine.” It wasn’t an oppressive commandment, “thou shalt let your light shine.” No. Instead, there was a positive enthusiasm for being the light of Christ, for letting the light of Christ in me to shine. When I was a kid, I wanted to let my light shine.

It is with this introduction that we approach the story for today about Jesus of Nazareth. The teaching for today comes from the Sermon of the Mount. Jesus was living in the small town of Capernaum, right on the lake shore of the Lake of Galilee. The large hills seemed to grow right out from the lake shore, rising up from the lake, and halfway up the hills above Lake Galilee is where Jesus preached his Sermon on the Mount. Let’s see the picture of the actual geographic area of the Sermon of the Mount or Mount of Beatitudes.

In this picture, you can clearly see Capernaum, where Jesus lived as an adult. You can see the lake called Galilee. You can see Capernaum where Jesus had a home as an adult. Capernaum was a fishing village and the disciples Peter, James and John were from Capernaum. Jesus worked three miracles there. You can see the village of Bethsaida and Jesus did eight miracles in that village. You can see the location of Tabgha where Jesus fed the five thousand. From Tabgha to Capernaum, is where Jesus walked on water. Up from the lake, you can see the Mount of Beatitudes or location of the Sermon on the Mount. This picture captures the location of many episodes from Jesus’ life, but our focus in on the Mount of Beatitudes or the Sermon on the Mount.

Shore of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Photo copyrighted, BiblePlaces.

In the next picture, we have a view from hillside of the Sermon on the Mount. So you can imagine the disciples in Jesus’ time sitting on a hillside, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. The crowds were left down on the lake. Jesus was teaching his true disciples up on the hills overlooking the lake. We need to remember Jesus was addressing disciples who were interested in discipleship and not simply the crowds near the lake who were somewhat interested.

Up on that mountain, with his disciples, Jesus was thought of as the new teacher, the new Moses. As Moses went up to Mount Sinai, he gave the Ten Commandments to the Jewish religion; so Jesus, the New Moses, went up the mountain and he gave Christians a new set of commandments, a new code for living, a new sense of right and wrong. Jesus gave us a new guideline for life. The Ten Commandments were no longer adequate. There is much more to the Christian life than trying to obey the Ten Commandments. On the mountain above Capernaum that day, Jesus was the New Moses and this was the New Mountain and these were his New Commandments.

Jesus said to his disciples: “You. You. You.” In the Greek language, the emphasis is on you. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. A lamp that is lit in a house is not put under a bushel. Rather, you put a lamp onto a lamp stand so that it will light the whole house.” Then Jesus said, “Let your light so shine, so that all people will see your good works, your works of love, and give glory to God who is in heaven.”

You, you, you, you his disciples: you are the light of the world. And so we hear that refrain:  

Both John and Ed sing the refrain to the song
Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

That is the title for the sermon for today: Let it shine. The verse is Matthew 5:14-16.

Let’s do a brief Bible study. Please take out your bulletin and let us examine the Bible passages together. In your bulletin insert, please examine the following words.  The meaning of this verse is very, very clear. Mt 5:14 "You are the light of the world.” You are actually the light of God. You. You. You.  “A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” You can’t hide a city that is located on the top of a hill, nor are we to hide our discipleship. “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” In those days, the people had olive lamps. You put an olive lamp on a stand and you don’t cover it up with a basket. “Let your light so shine before others.” We are to let our lights shine. “So that they may see your good works.” Your works of love. “And give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” We do not glorify ourselves but God.  

36”Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.” Luke 11:36. Instead of the word, “body,” insert the word, “personality.” Highlight: “completely lighted” or “wholly bright.” The light of Jesus Christ is shine in us with the greatest brightness. There is not a little light in us, but a large and radiant light in us.

“Again Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12. When we follow Christ and are disciples of Christ, we have the light of Christ inside of us. In our baptismal services here at Grace, you hear the words, “Let your light so shine that people will see your life of love.” In baptism, we are given the light of Christ in us.

“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.” John 8:36.  When you believe in the light and follow the light, we become children of light.”  That concludes our brief Bible study.  

Jesus did not say,  “You are to be the light for the church.” The Bible does not say, “When you come to church, turn on your light. When you come to the church, let everyone see how devout and pious you are. When you come to the church, turn on your religious energy.”  No. When you leave this church and get in your car and drive out of the parking lot and into your neighborhoods, into your schools, into your classrooms, into your factories and offices, let your light shine for Jesus Christ. You, you, you, you are the light of the world. Let the world see your light and come to know Jesus Christ.

Our Christianity is to be visible.  Your Christianity is to be seen, is to be noticed, is not to be hidden. People are to know you are a Christian by what you say, by what you do, by who you are. If you are a Christian, you cannot hide it. It is the very nature of discipleship to be seen. There is no such thing as a secret Christian. There is no such thing as a closet Christian. At home, your discipleship is to be visible. At work, your discipleship is to be visible. At school, your discipleship is to be visible. In these places, do people know that you are a practicing Christian? With your friends at soccer? With the baseball teammates? At the symphony, the orchestra, the band? Do people around you know that you are a Christian?  

Our faith needs to shine no matter where we are, at work, at play, at school.  It is important that our language is filled with words about God, Jesus, love and the church. By what we say, we show that we love God. We need to use the words, God, Jesus, Christ, Bible, faith, church as part of our language. Do you use those words as part of your language? Are those words part of your vocabulary? Or…do you hide it? When you get out into the world, do you hide it? But when you come to church, do you pull out the light and put it on a lamp stand? Do you hide your light when you are in the world but turn it on when you are in the presence with your Christian friends? We need to let that light shine out there in the real world.

Jesus said, “If salt has lost its saltiness, you might as well throw it on a pile of dung. The salt is worthless” Similarly, if you are unwilling to let your light shine out there in the world, if you don’t let the world know that you love God, Christ, and the things of God, you might as well turn off your light for you are worthless as a Christian. The Sunday School song says, “Hide it under a bushel, NO.” When you hide it under a bushel, your light does not shine. Salt and light both can become worthless to God. Jesus says, Let your light shine…in the world…that the world may know Christ.

Now, this light of Christ shining inside of you is not showing off. We are not talking about you being a Bible thumper where you bring out your Bible and throw it in peoples’ faces. Letting your light shine is not being a Jesus-pusher where you subtly push Jesus on too many occasions. Letting your light shine is not wearing Christianity on your sleeves to show everybody what a fine Christian you are. It is not wearing crosses on your ear rings and crosses on your necklaces and crosses on your bracelets, to show everyone that you are religious. No, letting your light shine is much more subtle than that.

Let’s use our imagination for a moment.  Imagine I am a Christian person; a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  I love Jesus and walk with Jesus. When you love Jesus and walk with Jesus, you have the light of Christ in you. I want be the light of the world and help to spread the light of Christ to everyone around me.   I try to live my life in a loving manner.  I try to be loving toward my own family and friends but more importantly, I try to be loving toward those who are different than myself.  In the little kindnesses, the way I treat others, being honest in my transactions and business dealings, I try to let the light of Jesus shine in my life for others to see.  And when it is appropriate, I share the good news of Christ and invite people I know to church.

And imagine that I am not a Christian; that I don’t really know Jesus Christ but I know you.  I am watching you.  You aren’t aware of it, but I’m watching you and observing that there is something different about you.  You are kind to others and really seem to care how other people feel.  Your language is never inappropriate and you always speak with a certain calmness about you.  There is a peace in your life that I really like.  I’ve seen the way you love your wife and children and the way you are involved with the community always doing something positive.  I have always believed that God existed but now I’m beginning to see God in you and in your life.  I’m beginning to see a light that shines out of you and draws me in.  Could this be the light of Jesus?  Maybe Christianity is a possibility for me too.  I think I will go to church with you on Sunday.

And the more we spread the light of Jesus Christ to those around us, the more light Jesus gives us.  The light of Christ may begin small in us but than grows brighter and brighter. In a parable, Jesus said that a life can produce 50, then 60, then 100 fold. The light of Christ grows in us also. Christ is an unlimited supply of light.  He is the light of the world and because we have his light in us we, too are the light of the world.  

Tim Madsen from our church gave me this light some time ago and I used it to illustrate that Jesus gives us a powerful light.  Don’t ever hide it.  This is a 500 watt light bulb, the largest light bulb I have ever seen. Isaiah 60 says, “Those who walk in darkness have seen a great light.” Jesus is a great light and his great light shines in us. The Church has become the great light of Christ and collectively, we shine with a very great light that lights up the whole world. (John turns on the light.)

You know the refrain from the song. Sing it with us with your full voice.

Ed & John
Let it shine.  Let it shine.  Let it shine.  Amen 

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