“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” (Luke 11:33-36 ESV)
Light, we’re told, is made up of both particles and waves. Honestly I don’t really know what that means, and my interest level in quantum physics wanes pretty quick. For those of you who know me personally, let that be proof that I really don’t know everything. For those of you who don’t know me that well, this won’t be too surprising. For me light has always been that something that dispells the nothing that is darkness.
Cold and darkness are the results of the absence of heat or light. But they are also the natural state of things if nothing changes. They are the status quo of the universe. They are what was present when creation suddenly changed everything. Now we see evidence of light and heat everywhere. Yet what comes natural is cold and darkness. Light and heat are the invaders, the trespassers on the face of the universe. Creation displaced the endless spaces of cold and darkness.
But I am told that there is more “space” than there is “stuff”. The distance between planets and sub atomic particles is vast. So there is still lots of space for the dark and cold. On the other hand, I’m also told, much to my amusement, that there is more stuff than what we can see, more energy than we can detect or account for. My response is typically, “You don’t say,” or “Go figure.” Few seem to get my sarcasm.
So what’s my point? Jesus says that we already understand how to dispel the dark using a lamp. In this context He uses that analogy to prompt the “generation” He just criticized to do the same with His teaching. Dispel the darkness of their generation with the light of His teaching. But wait, there’s more!
He also pushes them further to dispel the darkness of their own souls as well. The eye is how they know (the word “to know” means “to have seen” – nice pun, no?), therefore having seen the mute demon come flying out of the man and he begin to speak (verse 14) is the “sign” they were looking for. So Jesus is simply calling them to apprehend what they have seen. Get it? This section makes the harsh criticism preceding somewhat softer. He’s harsh at first, but then turns and calls them to change.
But why? Why criticize them in the first place? What is Jesus trying to accomplish pointing out their faults? Why then tell them that they know what do with light, do the same with His teaching? Because He loves them.
The natural state of people is much the same as the rest of the universe. People tend toward cold and dark if left to themselves. If nothing changes that’s the natural bent. People have to choose to do something different to avoid the tendency to be cold and dark. Illumination has often been used to describe the fight against the cold and dark of the human soul. That’s really all Jesus is after here. The thing is though, many things can be used to dispel the cold and dark, but only one thing is truly light: Jesus.
That way, Jesus is telling them to be careful that what they are using for illumination is truly light and not more darkness. Think about that. How could that even be? How could someone not know they were in darkness? Well, if we know nothing else because we’ve never seen it, then it’s easy to simply believe we have all the illumination we want, need, or that there is. We wouldn’t know.
But we do know because we have seen Scripture. We do know because as we read the Spirit, having inspired the writings, now illuminates our hearts and minds to understand. We become illuminated by the deeds and teaching of Jesus, and then by Jesus Himself. So, let’s shine that Light. He belongs on the stand in our hearts and in our communities!
So, what do you learn from Jesus’ metaphor of light?