The Light of the World
When Jesus began to announce his new kingdom of heaven, he also began to fulfill prophecies about the dawning of a great light. In Mt. 4:15-17 Jesus began this mission in “Galilee of the Gentiles;” there the people (in darkness) saw a great light: Jesus.
After Jesus began to gather disciples, the nucleus of his new kingdom, he told them they were (also) the light of the world–a world of Gentiles as well as Jews (Mt. 4:18-22; 5:1-2,14). Jesus was pointing to their future world mission.
Like a “city on a hill,” they will stand out and shine a special light in the darkness of the world’s cities and kingdoms (Mt. 5:14). That true light cannot, and must not, be hidden from the dangerous darkness. Like a lamp in a house, the function of this light is to give light to all those in the “house” (world) (Mt. 5:15). Unfortunately, the darkness will try to put out that light.
Nevertheless, king Jesus commands his disciples to let their light shine before the people so they will see their good works and glorify their Father, the one in the heavens (Mt. 5:16). Their special righteousness of meekness and mercy (see Mt. 5:5-7) will lead some from every nation to join this new kingdom and family; like their king, this kingdom of disciples will remain gentle and kind and merciful. Jesus will make his disciples fishers of men (people) all over the world (see Mt. 4:19).
Their good works and words will be the good fruit of worthy repentance; they will exhibit Jesus’ new righteousness, empowered by (the Spirit from) heaven. As a result, some will see their unusual works (of righteousness), hear their uncommon gospel (of the kingdom), and glorify their unsurpassed Father (in heaven). These new disciples will turn away from their previous devotion to powerful fathers in the families and kingdoms of earth; those ruling fathers pursue their own personal interests, exhibiting works that are often not gentle, kind, or merciful.