How’s Your Eyesight?
Luke 11:24-26, 29-36
“Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.” – Luke 11:35 NLT
There were times when Jesus seemed to talk in riddles. Of course, when He used parables, they could be very confusing and difficult to understand, but that was His intent. He was actually hiding truth from those who refused to believe in Him. But there were other times when He just seemed to be teaching or speaking and the analogies or metaphors He used seemed somewhat obscure and their meanings were not exactly clear. The passage for today is a perfect example. Luke records that right after Jesus talked about “the sign of Jonah” and the refusal of the people of Israel to believe in Him, Jesus broke into a short discussion on the lamp and the eye. He makes that very familiar statement, “No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts in under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house” (Luke 11:33 NLT). I can’t tell you how many sermons I have heard on this verse that have tried to make it all about sharing your faith. I am not against us sharing our faith, but I don’t think that is what this verse is about. I don’t believe that was the message Jesus was trying to convey. Because He goes on and describes the eye as a lamp that provides light to the body. What is He talking about? What’s the point of this message?
I think the key to understanding this passage can be found in the original language in which these words were recorded. In the New Living Translation, the eye is described as being either “good” or “bad.” Those two words can mean a lot of different things in English. But in the Greek, the word translated “good” is a word that means “whole.” In other words, it is complete, healthy and able to do its job well. A whole eye is a fully functioning eye, doing what it was intended to do, without any flaws or defects. But a bad eye is literally a “diseased” eye. In an ethical sense, it is blind and unable to do what it was intended to do. It is no longer whole or healthy. It may appear to be a fully functioning eye, but it is incapable of providing light to the rest of the body. So what’s the point? What is Jesus trying to say? If we keep the context in mind, Jesus has been addressing the unbelief of the Pharisees. Rather than see all the signs and miracles that Jesus had performed as evidence of His claim to be the Messiah, they chose to write it off as the result of Satan. When Jesus refers to a light that is placed on a stand where everyone can see it, He is most likely referring to Himself. He elsewhere refers to Himself as the Light of the world. “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12 NLT). Earlier in his gospel, John speaks of Jesus in these same terms. “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:4-5 NLT). Jesus is the Light sent from God, like a light set on a stand where it can be seen by all. Jesus words and works were clearly visible for all to see. The problem was not with Jesus, but in the ability of the people to SEE Him clearly. In verse 34, Jesus makes a transition and describes the eyes of the people like a lamp that provides light to their body. A good or healthy eye will allow light in so that the entire body can benefit from it. But a diseased or partially blind eye will fail to recognize the light, and instead, will tend to mistake partial darkness for light. Which is why Jesus says, “Make sure the light you think you have is not actually darkness” (Luke 11:35 NLT). The Pharisees were guilty of failing to see Jesus as the light. They refused to acknowledge Him as the Messiah. Instead, they mistook the darkness in their own lives – their feeble attempts at self-righteousness – as light. And as a result, the Light of Christ was not able to penetrate their lives and expose the dark, sin-filled recesses.
They came asking for a sign. Yet Jesus had come like a light clearly displayed on a lamp stand for all to see. The problem was not with the Light, but with their capacity to see.
Father, there are countless millions of people today who still fail to see the Light of the world, Your Son, even though He shines clearly in the lives of those whose lives He has transformed through His redemptive work on the cross. These people are blinded by their own self-righteousness. They are attempting to earn favor with You based on their own merit. But the light they think they have is actually darkness. Open their eyes Lord so that they may see the truth and experience the life-transforming light of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men