From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Light

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

This Little Light of Mine

You heard it in kindergarten. You sang it with your mom. You can even perform all of the motions. If you don't know the song—"This Little Light of Mine"—don't deprive yourself any longer.

Well, guess what? This popular children's song is based on one of Jesus's sayings, which first appears in none other than Mark's gospel:

He said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lamp stand?" (4:21)

Sound familiar? "Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm going to let it shine!" La la la. The idea of "letting your light shine" will have to wait for further development by Matthew, who wrote a few decades later than Mark (see Matthew 5:14-16).

In the context of Mark's gospel, the verse is pretty difficult to interpret. It definitely underlines the importance of being a transparent—i.e., for everyone to see—follower of Jesus. But the continuation in 4:22 puts it all in a startling context:

For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. (4:22)

When will this full public viewing of all secret things occur? Is this referring to the moment when Jesus returns, which for Mark may be soon (flip quickly to 8:38; 9:1; 13:24-27)?

Bottom line: our cute, little G-rated children's song is in part inspired by Mark's not-so-cute or little vision of the apocalypse. Yikes!

Advertisement