“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)
What is the 'town built on a hill'?Jesus is using an analogy to explain how important his teachings are. The 'city on a hill' represents the aspects of his teachings that bring us closer to our loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
This is a 'city on a hill' because this is the pinnacle of our existence. To achieve a loving relationship with God fulfills all our desires. It achieves everything that we have always wished for.
If you ask practically any person what is important to them in life, it will undoubtedly relate to finding their soul mate. Each of us seeks our soul mate: The person who fulfills us and makes us happy.
Even those who have arrived at a relationship with another person - even if they are happily married - will still seek close friendships with others. While they might say their mate is their soul mate, they know after a few years that the person is not the perfect person they were originally seeking.
Our perfect soul mate is the Supreme Being.
Our perfect soul mate does not have to interfere with our current relationship, because our perfect soul mate is the Supreme Being, and we can share God with others. Our relationship with God is like a city on a hill because it cannot be hidden from those we care about. We will certainly want to share God with others, just as Jesus asked his followers to share his teachings with others.
Who was Jesus speaking to?
“Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” (Matt. 4:25)This means that Jesus was speaking to people who were not only gathered and motivated to listen to Jesus but also were followers of Jesus. They were in effect, Jesus' students. He had been giving them knowledge, which effectively made them, "the light of the world."
Jesus thus explained to these followers that after they had heard and learned from him, they were able to set examples for others. Jesus was encouraging his followers to spread the knowledge he was giving them so that others could begin to appreciate the need for focusing our lives on God.
What does Jesus want them to do?Jesus wants them to pass on the knowledge that he has given to them.
The final statement in this section is critical: “…that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” What does this mean?
This means Jesus was telling his followers to preach by example. He was telling them to conduct their lives in such a way that teaches others. And what might be those "deeds?" We only have to observe Jesus' life. Jesus spent his time helping people. He healed people. He praised God. He made sacrifices. He prayed. He preached. Jesus was God's advocate. He advocated for God in every possible situation.
Now Jesus is asking his followers to also become advocates for God.
What does 'glorify your Father in heaven' mean?The central means to “glorify your Father in heaven” is for us to praise Him.
Praise means to glorify the Supreme Being's Name and virtues. Praise means to sing His Name and virtues. We can do that with or without instruments, in groups, or in private. Praise also means we can repeat His Names and virtues on a regular basis.
Singing and repeating the Names of God are the greatest deed a person can make. Singing and praising God and His Names brings true joy to the heart. It delivers a taste of love for God. If done consistently and without envy, praising God gradually purifies the heart of selfishness and envy.
This is confirmed by David’s psalm in 1 Chronicles 16-8:
Give thanks for the Lord, call on His Name; make known among the nations what He has done. Sing to him, sing praise to Him; tell of His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy Name…”This is also confirmed by Jeremiah (10:13):
Sing to the LORD!To praise God is the highest form of worship. This is because within God’s Names, within His characteristics and His activities, lies the goal of life: To love and serve God with all our heart and soul.
Give praise to the LORD!
He rescues the life of the needy
from the hands of the wicked.
This is Jesus' clear instruction not only to his followers but all who may read his teachings later:
“glorify your Father in heaven.”