Lit Lamps and Open Windows

Your eye is the lamp of your body. – Luke 11:34

I always had a hard time understanding this. I suppose it is because of the children’s song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine.” Maybe it is a cop out to blame it on a song, but I always assumed the light was to shine outward. What is in us must shine out. That kind of thing. To be fair, that is what is going on in the next section, Jesus is telling the Pharisees that what’s inside them is what needs to be washed.

At any rate, this section always gave me problems in interpretation. But this week I spent time reading and reflecting on it and praying over it and I think I’ve finally found my error. The lamp of the eye doesn’t shine outward like the headlamp on your car, it shines inward. I don’t know how I could have missed that, the rest of verse 34 is clear, “When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.” Duh.

Being a disciple is more than learning doctrine. It is doing the doctrine.So what does that mean then? In the preceding section, Jesus is talking about signs. He compares himself to Jonah and says he’s greater. Same thing with Solomon. Then he compares the generation before him to Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba and says that things will go better for them on the last day. They had lesser signs and they sought out the lesser sign (Sheba) and repented (Nineveh). But the generation before Jesus has greater signs and they’re asking for more. So what is happening in the section on the eye as a lamp is that Jesus is telling people to perceive what is before them. “Open your eyes!” he’s telling them. That is what that part about hiding a lamp under a basket or in the cellar in verse 33 is about. Open them eyes and recognize what is before you. If you do, you will be filled with light, not darkness.

That advise applies to us today as much as it did to the generation standing before Jesus. We can too easily not see what is plainly before us. In modern terms, we are tempted to draw the curtains over the windows of our eyes, curtains of entertainment or money or comfort or expediency and miss the truth. Sure, Jesus isn’t physically standing before us, berating us for not catching on, but he has sent his witnesses to us. The Church is on mission to preach the gospel to the lost, to strengthen the believer and to comfort those in distress.

For most of us, we’re in the ‘believer’ category and I think many of us in that category have our eye-lamp uncovered and are taking in the truth. There are some of us in that category, however, who might think we’re getting it but we may not be. We can be learning but not gaining knowledge. What we need to be doing is putting that doctrine to use. To not just learn but to obey. Do we tend to the other categories I’ve listed? Do we evangelize and care for the weak and sick and poor? I know I score myself very low in those categories to my own shame. Perhaps the curtains are half drawn in my case. Maybe the lamp is not under the basket but neither is it on the stand. Being a disciple is more than learning doctrine. It is doing the doctrine. May the Lord help me be a better disciple. It is too easy to be a poor one.

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One Comment

  • Un-“duh” yourself, Brother, dear! Good comments on a passage we all need to get busy DOING!

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