"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed...." (Luke 8:16-18)

"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them." (Luke 8:16-18)

What does the parable of the lamp mean?

Jesus is speaking directly to his disciples. He is speaking about them passing on the information - the Truth - that he has given them.

The word "lamp" is being translated from the Greek word, λύχνος (lychnos), which means "candle, lamp or another illuminator" according to the lexicon. Jesus is referring to something that gives off light. Something that provides illumination so that we can see what is going on around us when the surroundings are dark.

That dark place is the physical world. The physical world is covered in the darkness of ignorance. Here in this world we think this world is all there is. In this world, we think that we are the center of the universe.

The "lamp" in Jesus' parable is his teachings. Jesus' teachings provide illumination in a world of ignorance of the Truth. Jesus' teachings cut through the haze of the illusion that the only thing that exists is what we see with our senses, and we are the center of the universe.

What is illusion?

Some time ago, on a CBS 60-Minutes piece, a man - Shin Dong-hyuk - documented his experiences at a prison in North Korea. It turns out the man was born in that prison, and while in the prison Shin was given no opportunity to know or see anything outside the prison: No books, internet, newspapers, TV, radio or other communications were made available to him. And his North Korean captors kept him in the dark about the world outside.

So up until Shin escaped the prison - he did not even know a world outside the prison existed. He did not know people could choose their food. Shin did not know some foods even existed. He had no idea that people even had the freedom to walk around freely.

This is because Shin's senses were limited by his captors to seeing only inside the prison. He could not see outside the prison and therefore, assumed that the prison was all that existed. And when he escaped, Shin was shocked at what occurs in the "outside world."

This type of assumption - that all we see is all that exists - takes place naturally because our memory of life before this body has been essentially wiped clean. Our mind has been programmed to only believe what the senses perceive. This physical mind thus has no entry into the spiritual realm unless our senses come into contact with God's representative or scripture. Otherwise, the mind will assume all we see around us in the physical world is all that exists.

Just as the North Korean prison guards made sure that the prisoner's senses were limited to the prison, the Supreme Being programmed the physical world so our physical senses and mind could not perceive Him or the spiritual realm.

Why did we forget?

Why would the Supreme Being - controller of everything - do this? Why would He make the spiritual realm invisible to our physical senses? Why would He allow us to be in ignorance?

Because this is what we wanted. We wanted to get away from God. We wanted to go out and play out our desires. We wanted to have what God has.

Let's give an example:

Let's say that we had a long-time friend from our youth - a friend who shared everything with us for many years. And suddenly our friend becomes a sports star, and we become jealous of our friend. We became envious because we wanted that stardom. And let's say one day in a jealous rage we burst out and screamed at this old friend - telling them we never wanted to see them again.

How would that make our old friend feel? They would become heartbroken. They would become saddened that they had lost their friendship with us all because we became jealous of what they achieved.

What would such a friend do after we became jealous of them and told them we didn't want to see them again? They would naturally go away. They would give us our space. They would get out of our lives and leave us alone. They wouldn't want to hang around us.

This is our situation with God, except that instead of becoming a sports star, God is the Supreme Controller. We became envious of God, as the symbolism of the forbidden fruit, portrayed by the snake to Eve:
"For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:5)
Then we find that God banished Adam and Eve (symbolically, each of us), denying our access to the "tree of life" - symbolically, spiritual life:
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)
Becoming "like one of us" relates to enjoyment. Seeking enjoyment, which comes with consequences ("good and evil" which translated correctly really means "pain and pleasure.)

And the facility God used was not only banning them (us) from the Garden, but also covering them with "skin":
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
These "garments of skin" are our physical bodies. God covered us in physical bodies so that we can play out our self-centeredness.

But along with that, these bodies and this physical world was imbued with lessens and consequences:
"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:17-19)
This is the story of the physical world and these physical bodies. Within them we toil and we struggle amongst thorns and thistles. Then our bodies die and they decompose into the dust of the earth.

Is this world fulfilling?

In His infinite wisdom, God has programmed the physical world to allow us to try to achieve our desire to become like God ("one of us").

In this world, we can pretend to be the "boss" of something. We can be the boss of others at work. Or we can be the boss of a sports team by being a coach or captain. Or we can be the boss of our children, or if we are a schoolteacher, the boss of our students. And if we can't be any of those bosses, we can get a pet and be the boss of our pet. We can play all sorts of roles in this physical world and try to act out our jealousy of God by being in charge of someone and/or something.

Here we can also mimic God in that we can become a "star" of something. Each of us can pretend we are some sort of star here. We can win a few games at something and think we are the star of that crowd, that sport, or that match. We can practice an instrument for many years and then feel we are a star musician of some sort. We can do something unique on a you-tube video and feel we are an internet star. We can be a business success and be the star of the business world. Or we can be the star of our pets. All of these attempts are allowed by the Supreme Being in order to provide us with an opportunity to achieve our dreams - so we try to achieve God's position by being some sort of "star."

Yet none of these forms of stardom fulfill us. They do not make us happy. Being the boss and the star only bring us emptiness. This is one of the lessons of the physical world. We are not happy with these achievements because, by nature, we are not stars. We are not bosses. These are not our natural positions.

What is our natural position?

Our natural position is one of a servant. Of caregiver. We are fulfilled only when we resume our spiritual identity as one of God's loving servants and caregivers.

This, in fact, is why the physical world was also programmed by God to teach us. Through consequence learning experiences, the Supreme Being shows us that this is not our home, and we indeed have another home.

The teachings of the prophets - passed down through John to Jesus, all taught this fact. This world is not our home, and we will be empty without our Best Friend, God. This is why Jesus' central teaching - as was Moses' and the rest of the prophets - was:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
This is the light that Jesus illuminated his students with.

The next part of Jesus' statement reveals that the Truth will continue to illuminate us as it is revealed:
"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."
This indicates that the Truth cannot be hidden. It will be revealed and illuminated to those who will hear it:

Is Jesus speaking of humility?

The next part of Jesus' statement refers to a particular state of mind when it comes to the Truth. First he says:
"Therefore consider carefully how you listen."
What does "how you listen" mean? Jesus is referring to being open-minded. Not letting our pre-conceived notions interfere with our learning.

Ultimately this relates to humility. Being open-minded means letting go of the idea that we know it all. Being open-minded means assuming we have a lot to learn.

It takes humility to admit this. This is related by Jesus' last statement:
"Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them."
What we "think we have" relates to confidence. Being confident about what we know. When we are confident that we know it all, Jesus is saying that even what we do know will be taken from us.

So what is it that "whoever has"? It is humility. Accepting that we are nothing without the wisdom of the Supreme Being. Accepting that everything we have comes from God. Jesus stated this about himself and his own teachings:
"My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)