Matthew 5:14 – A City on a Hill – Hidden Believers?

This is part of a series of articles from Matthew chapters 5-7, known as the Sermon on the Mount. As I was reading through this well-known passage of Scripture in my annual read through the Bible, several passages struck me in a new way, and I wanted to share them with you as an encouragement and as a way to spur us on.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:14

Having just talked about the reward and the blessing that are promised to those followers of Jesus who are persecuted for the sake of the gospel (5:10-12), Jesus now talks about the believer’s attitude toward the world. The conclusion we can draw from this verse is that there is no such thing as a secret or hidden saint.

First, Jesus says that “you are the light of the world.” The “you” here is all disciples of Jesus. We are the light of the world. Now, for the disciple of Christ in America, this means that there is no option for being secret about your faith. How can “the light of the world” be covered or obscured? The purpose of the light is to dispel darkness. A light that does not dispel darkness is useless. Therefore, we, as the light of Christ, are to actively and intentionally shine His light.

But Jesus also says, “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” The context demands that this “city” of this sentence is the same thing as the “you” and the “light” of the preceding sentence. That is, we are not to be in a darkened canyon afraid to shine our light, but we are to find a prominent position on the side of a hill where our light is visible to the most people possible.

Application: The default attitude of the follower of Christ is to be a light for Christ in the world. This is the purpose for which the believer has been saved. The local church is to take the same attitude and purpose as the individual. We are His witnesses (Isaiah 43:10, 12; Acts 1:8).


  1. Consider how we can use our existing context most effectively to shine Christ’s light.
  2. Plan how we can increase the intensity of our light so that more people are exposed to that light.

SDG        rmb        1/27/2020

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