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Sermon on the Mount: Light (and Darkness) in our Eyes
Matthew 6:22-23; Luke 18:18-27
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
Matthew 6:22-23 NASB1995
Following on to the treasures here or in Heaven admonition, Jesus uses this parable about the eye being the lamp of the body. He is saying that if our eyes are focused on Him and eternity, if we are single-minded, our eye is clear and our whole body is full of light. If we focus on the things of this world and inevitably neglect or obscure our vision of Him, our eyes become dark and our bodies are full of darkness.
What I have struggled with in these verses is the guilt and concern that comes from having and enjoying things in this life. I woke up the morning after writing about Treasures in Heaven feeling a combination of sadness, worry and a little bit of resentment. The resentment is the enemy working in me to drive me away from Christ and from my path to sanctification. Talking to Steve about this, he said that the guilt was the thing that drove him away from the Catholic Church many years ago. But Jesus wants us to love Him more than anything else, period, and if you have guilt and concern, then you are probably on the right path. Having money is not a sin nor is it a sin to provide for yourself; worshipping that money and the superfluous things it buys and hoarding it without first using it to advance God’s kingdom IS sinful. It all belongs to God. Our culture is appalled at this idea, promoting wealth, acquisition and celebrity worship (and worship and lust of their lifestyles) in everything thrown at us on a daily basis by our entertainment and media complex.
Jesus continued this theme in Matthew, Mark and Luke in His discussion with a young rich ruler. Here is the excerpt from Luke 18:18-27:
“A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
Luke 18:18-25, 27 NASB1995
An interesting side note about this young ruler: He probably lost everything he owned (if he was still alive) when Judea fell and the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple happened in AD 70, leading to the last stand at Masada and the full diaspora of the Jews just as the early church was growing. And a similar passage in Mark (Mark 10:17-27) adds the observation that Jesus loved this young ruler and had compassion for him, so Jesus also has compassion and love for us. All things are possible with God!
My next Sermon on the Mount devotional continues this temporal versus eternal theme in Matthew 6:25 about serving two masters.