“No one lights a lamp and puts it in the cellar or under a basket, but on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see its light. Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light. But when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. Take care, then, that the light in you is not darkness.” ~Luke 11:33-36
I encountered this Scripture the other day, and it really confused me. I wondered at first if the people during this time thought that the eye was literally a contraption that lights up your viscerals, but then I changed my mind because Jesus, the one from whom all things were created, (John 1:3), probably knows that anatomy pretty well, and he wouldn’t lie about it, since he was, well, perfect (John 8:46).
Then I figured it might be saying that we need to choose our influences wisely, to always look at good circumstances and avoid the bad. An eye sees things. Good and bad things, yes. But Jesus isn’t talking about what we’re looking at, he is concerned with what kind of eyes we’re looking with.
Have you ever seen someone with a cataract? This film begins to form over their eyes, and it slowly blinds them. My grandfather underwent a series of strokes that chipped away at his vision. No matter what he looked at, there were the same defects, and it eventually became like trying to look through a windshield with the sunshade up. This would make it easy for him to fall, to give up on trying to see, and to feel discouraged.
On the other hand, in the Emerald city in the Wizard of Oz, people would put on rose-colored glasses so everything looked better than it actually was. This led to ignorance and dependence on this reality-distorting tool in order to function.
In both of these cases, there is something wrong with the person’s eyes (even if they’re four-eyes): They prevent the full amount of light from entering the eye.
So what does the light represent in this parable? Jesus describes himself as the “light of the world” “John 8:12; John 9:5). C.S. Lewis compares God to light: “I believe in God like I believe in the sun, not because I can see it, but because of it all things are seen.” But the best clue is the beginning of the passage, where Jesus says, “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but on a lampstand…” (Luke 11:33).
This same description is recorded in Matthew 5:14-16,in which he tells his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” In this passage, Jesus commands all of his followers to “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Jesus says that his light is the “light of life” (John 18:12). He also says that “the one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going” (John 12:35).
Jesus says “I am THE light,” not “I am A light.” He is the only one. Without Jesus in your life, you have no light. None. You’re gonna keep stumbling, and you’re not gonna know why. You won’t even get to see what’s tripping you up after you fall, so when you get back up, you’re just gonna run into it again. (How embarrassing and unproductive.) Or else you’ll see the world as rosier than it really is, numb to the pain of your past that is really eating you up inside — or the pain that causes others hurt, because you don’t want to deal with it. If you’re not living in the real world, how could you think that you’re even living at all?
What struck me the most about this passage is that the light is not just Christ himself, but the light is the gospel — the true, life-changing story of how this incomprehensible, unavailable God left Heaven and became one of us, used every moment of his life to radically love the unloved and give hope to the hopeless, and then conquered evil and death — the two things that, without God, are inevitable, and that will overcome us so long as we live life without Him.
Jesus is alive, and he’s still shining. But is he shining in your body? The light surrounds you, even now when you’re under the illusion that it’s either dark or dandy. But unless you get your eyes checked, you’re gonna miss out.
So what are you missing out on without having Jesus in your life? You’ll never know just how clear your life and your hope will become until let that light fill your body — every nook and cranny.
In the darkness, you can hide, but you can’t run. In the light, you will run toward your best friend Jesus and never have to hide again.
So what are you waiting for? Go get your eyes checked.