“Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed? Don’t you put it up on a table or on the mantel? (Mark 4:21, MSG).
Greetings Friends the world over!
Jesus was a master in the art of communication. He did this through story-telling. These stories are more commonly called parables in the Bible. He told different kinds of stories to fit the life experience and maturity of His hearers. (Mar.4:33-34) To this day His stories has continued to be told and retold in many tongues and languages. The stories have been expressed in various art forms for millions to see. Jesus said of His parables, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more” (Mar.4:24). He is saying what you hear today may not seem like what they appear to be saying, but as you mature in your faith, you will understand things in a refreshing frame of mind as never before. Hence, his parables have this timeless and ageless effect upon us.
I find that true for me, and no doubt for all those who heed the words of Jesus. In this post, I would like to share a perspective with my readers I have come to see in Jesus’ parables (stories) which has enlightened, inspired, and refreshed me spiritually. To get a fresh perspective of Jesus parable I will explain it from the vantage point of God’s Trinitarian lens. I have said before, this blog site is dedicated to helping readers learn the art of living the “Triune Life.”**
I will use one of Jesus’ parables as a prop and cue for His other stories and hopefully we can adopt the “Triune Life”** and embrace a new understanding and refreshing way of living. In chapter 4 of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus gave a very brief but succinct parable in just a single verse. It is the parable of the lamp. He gave it in the form of a question, “Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed? Don’t you put it up on a table or on the mantel? (Mark 4:21, MSG; also Matt.5:15). Then He explains its meaning, “We’re not keeping secrets, we’re telling them; we’re not hiding things, we’re bringing them out into the open” (V.22).
Parable of the Lamp under The Basket (Pic: Wiki Commons)
Let us look at this parable through the Trinitarian lens, keeping Jesus’ meaning in mind. Looking through the Trinitarian lens means we are spiritually anchored in God’s Triune nature. God is Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. The final departing words Jesus gave His disciples before He was taken by angels to heaven was His commission to “go and baptize them (believers) into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt.28:19). It means to “induct” believers into the life of the Triune God. It means to teach disciples how to live the “Triune Life.”**
God is Trinitarian, and the moment we regard and relate with Him as a ‘solitary God’ we bring Him down to our human ‘solitary’ level, and render Him powerless. Yes, man must come out of his 1-dimensional life and rise up and above to God’s 3-dimensional form of living. Although man inherit his ‘solitary being’ through Adam, he was created with the potential to be a ‘Triune being’ through Jesus, and have his mind and understanding functioning on God’s level of consciousness.
So, Jesus is both God and man, the prophesied Immanuel -“God with us.” (Isa.7:14; Matt.1:23) As Jesus is homoousiosly*** (same substance) unified to the Triune Godhead, He cannot speak by any other format other than His inherent union with His Father and the Holy Spirit. The three Persons of the Triune Godhead are indivisibly One. The act of One is always the act of all Three, making every act singular.
He confirmed this saying, “I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust My decision because I’m not out to get My own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on My own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms Me, the most reliable Witness of all” (John 5:30-32, MSG). Jesus was pointing to His Father in heaven as the reliable Witness. He came to carry out the will of the One who sent Him. He did not come to do some solitary act of His own doing. In truth it is impossible for Him to do that, for He is homoousiosly*** (of one substance) One with His Father and the Spirit.
Jesus Proceeds from the Triune Godhead (Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity)
For humans, we have become ‘solitary beings’ from Adam’s fall and have the natural tendency to look at everything as revolving around man’s self-interest. Man always sees himself as the center of the universe with all else existing for his benefit. That is how man interpret and react to everything around him. Not so with Jesus. His whole world revolves around the God who is Love in His Trinitarian Being, and His eternal bond with His Father, the Holy Spirit, and with man who was created in God’s image and Triune likeness. (Gen.1:26)
So, let us look at this one-verse parable again, and see where Jesus was coming from when He spoke out of the depth of His divine Being as He is homoousiosly*** unified to the Father and the Spirit. He spoke through His Trinitarian nature and resisted His fallen solitary human nature. That’s how he lived His earthly life, resisting the pulls of His fallen solitary nature and turning to the Father and Spirit for direction.
The first part, “Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed?” So, the lamp, being a source of light, refers to God’s Word, and since Jesus is the personified Word of God, it speaks of Jesus. How do I know that? Well, I do not look inward in myself for the answer, but turn to the source of truth – the Bible. The Psalmist said, “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psa.119:105). John quotes Jesus as saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). The Lamp stands for Jesus. Now, what does the “home” represent?
Jesus Stands at the Door of Your Life and Knocks to Enter with His Lamp (Pic: Wiki Commons)
Jesus tells each of us, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Rev.3:20). “Home” represents you the believer. Mark speaks of bringing the Lamp “home.” Paul said, “Do you not know that you are a temple (home) of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor.3:16, NASB). When God instructed ancient Israel to construct a temple in the wilderness, and later in the nation of Israel, it was a metaphor for the true temple – every human life and mankind as a whole. (Rev.21:3; 1 Cor.3:16; 1 Pet.2:5)
The second part of the verse says, “Don’t you put it (the Lamp) up on a “table” or on the “mantel”?” But what might the “mantel” be on which the Lamp rests? The “mantel” pictures the heart of man. If the house stands for man, then the mantel represents the “heart” of man. The heart pictures our Love for God and His Son. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt.22:37). The Lamp on the mantel becomes the mantelpiece in the home. The heart becomes the spiritual resting place for the Lamp.
There is another aspect to this one-verse parable from Mark. It has to do with the “flame” in the Lamp. A Lamp goes hand in hand with the “flame” which gives it illumination. The flame represents the Holy Spirit. Remember what Jesus said about His own Triune existence from eternity, “I can’t do a solitary thing on my own” (John 5:30). With that in mind, Jesus tells us this in another parable about the Holy Spirit:-
“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return” (Matt.25:1-13).
Parable of the 5 Foolish & the 5 Wise Virgins with Their Lamps (Pic: Wiki Commons)
The “oil” which gives and keeps the Lamp ablaze is the Holy Spirit. The “oil” which keeps the Lamp burning is metaphor for God’s Love which the Spirit brings into our hearts. Paul said, “For we know how dearly God Loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His Love” (Rom.5:5). Since we are speaking of all three Persons of the Triune Godhead, so how is the Father involved in this parable? The Father is the One who owns the Lamp. He is the Holder of the Lamp. John says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (Lamp), that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (Spirit)” (John 3:16; also Eph.1:13-14). Paul says, “Be filled by the Spirit” (Eph.5:18b). Yes, as one fills a lamp with oil to keep its flame burning, we are to be filled with the Spirit.
What does that mean, and how do we keep the Lamp filled with spiritual oil to keep the spiritual flames ablaze? John MacArthur, in his commentary on Paul’s admonition says the Greek word for “be filled” is plerousthe. “A literal translation of the verb would read something like “be being kept filled.” The idea is one of keeping yourself constantly filled, as you yield moment by moment to the leading of the Spirit. It fits perfectly with the process of walking by the Spirit.” He goes on to say, “This phrase is not commanding empty Christians to acquire something they don’t already have. Each of us possesses the entire Holy Spirit from the time we repent and believe: “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness” (Rom.8:9-10). (Unquote)
However, while we have all of the Spirit in each of us, Ephesian 5:18, cautions us, “And don’t get drunk with wine… but be filled by the Spirit.” It explains to us that the mere presence of the Spirit does not equate to bearing Love-fruits (flame/light) in our lives. God’s Love is the flame of the Lamp (Jesus). We can live selfishly and recklessly, but we must learn to rely upon the Spirit’s lead and follow in His steps. The Spirit will not coerce us by force of will to follow His ways, but He will always speak to us in a “still small voice” by guiding us as the prophet said, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isa.30:21).
The reason many Christians do not live fulfilled lives is because they have lost the true concept of how to relate with the Trinitarian God and His Triune activity in man, and how to have a Loving relationship that is cultivated through the “Triune Life.”** Paul’s enumeration of the fruits (flame) of the Holy Spirit show how to live and be filled with the Spirit. (1Cor.13, Love Chapter) Jesus explains in the parallel parable in Matthew 15, “let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (V.16).
The object lesson here is to view and live life as Jesus did, living the “Triune Life.”** Again we remind ourselves of Jesus’ words, “I can’t do a solitary thing on my own.” This is the opposite of the way fallen man thinks and lives. Man does not know how “to wait upon the Lord” for His answers, and fight his self-will from doing what seems right to him. Again, the Psalmist says, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord” (Psa.27:14). The prophet said, “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isa.40:31).
Jesus, who is indivisibly one with His Father and the Spirit, is not a secret to be kept under wraps. He is God’s light that is not to be kept hidden from the world. He must burn constantly as a Lamp for all to see. It is not our light, but He is the Lamp, we are not the flame of the Lamp but the Spirit is, and we are the pedestal, the mantel on which He rests for the world to look to Him through us and be saved. This is the our role in living the “Triune Life.”** In so doing, we can fill the Lamp with the oil of the Spirit which keeps Lamp continuously alight, and say as He did, “I can of myself do nothing.”
Jesus represents our outward mobility with the message of the Gospel; our Heavenly Father gives us upward mobility who gives us hope; and the Spirit provides inward mobility by sanctifying us in our hearts with Love. I hope you have found this post beneficial, and thank you for visiting.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to write to me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life” as a Bulamanriver.* Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
* Bulamanriver: The etymology of Bulamanriver comes from three words: ‘bula,’ ‘man,’ and ‘river.’ Bula is a Fijian word which means “life.” (Fiji is an independent South Pacific Island nation) Bulamanriver is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website: www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my book, “Bulamanriver-The Miracle of Triune Living.”
** Triune Life: means a life lived according to the image and likeness of God. (Gen.1:26-27) It means a believer who lives the 3-dimensional life with the Triune God, as opposed to the ‘solitary’ 1-dimensional life man lives in himself. It means God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lives and walks in you the Bulamanriver*. Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune God, who took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead. To live the “Triune Life” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit in us. The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27) You can read more at: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036
*** Homoousias (Gk.ὁμοούσιος) means “of the same substance,” “of the same essence.” Homo means “same” and ousia means “essence.” The term was used by Athanasius in his correct teaching of the oneness of the Father and the Son in that they are the same substance, the same essence of divinity. The term was used in the Nicene Creed (and creeds thereafter) when it described Jesus as being of the same substance as the Father in its affirmation of the Trinity. (Matt Slick, carm.org)
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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