August 21, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“So all of us who have had the veil removed from our eyes can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord- who is the Spirit- makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.” (2 Corinthians 3.18)
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden or under a bowl where it cannot be seen. Instead they put it on its stand so that those who come in may see all that is in the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your [lamp] is healthy, your whole body is full of light. But, when your [lamp] is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. See to it, then, that the light in you is not darkness.” (Luke 11.33-35)
Talking about power-packed teaching, this one from Jesus found in the gospel of Luke is certainly one. As you read the entirety of chapter 11, you will find this teaching is at the center of a collection of teachings beginning with Jesus’ instructing the disciples on effective prayer and ending with His challenge to the authority of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law concerning the proper practice of righteousness. This literary device often found in Jewish scripture and teaching, not limited to a Jewish practice to be sure, of “centering,” or in Greek it is called chiasmus meaning “intersection or crossing point,” is a tool for efficient understanding. For those who love to get straight to the heart of the matter, “X” marks the spot. On the map, an intersection begs more attention because there are challenges presented by the crossing paths of traffic. In many instances, a “light” is placed there, not merely “yield” or “stop” signs, to help direct the flow of traffic. Ever notice how often those lights and their intended direction are ignored and the negative consequences of it? (Even more so as the days go on, I see by experience!) I have to say it is because people have less and less an “eye” for the light of truth. In their own light, they remain in the dark seeing only themselves and their agenda. Such violation of self and the rule of “be conscious of others” proves hazardous, contentious and sometimes deadly. Jesus’ teaching about “light” in this particular reflection found in Luke’s gospel, is certainly one of seeking to restore “law and order” back into the civility as well and spirituality of the community of faith. Sadly, those who “love being in charge” rarely accept well such instruction and accountability. We see that result at the end of Luke’s chapter 11. Hmmm, “chapter 11,” corporate bankruptcy, might actually have a new meaning now as it applies to the spiritual health and welfare of communities and organizations, especially the Church. But, what of each of us? What does this teaching have to say to us about “the eyes are the light of the [or to the] body”?
Shakespeare revised this teaching with one from Cicero who is quoted as saying in the second century B.C. “Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi‘ (The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter). It is through the eyes that we can see the soul of a person or, as Shakespeare proposed, “we see the state of one’s mind.” Of course, just looking into a window will not necessarily reveal the contents of the room into which we peer. If the room is dark, then some light is required. If the room is lit, then there is no “dark of doubt” as to the contents of the room although the meaning, purpose and proposal of it may still well be an assumption. What is meant should be clearly and plainly seen without discrepancy. Little wonder why “back rooms” are dimly lit and the business conducted in them are of questionable repute. When Ezekiel was transported by the Spirit to the scene of the “crime” perpetrated by the religious leaders of fallen Israel there was little wonder how it happened when “in the darkness of Temple rooms they did things that were not of God.” It used to be that most “sins” were committed under the cover of darkness so that the light of truth would not illuminate their presence nor purpose. However, in today’s world, the greater meaning of the teaching of Jesus speaks out as the “criminals” act in broad daylight believing that the people are blind to what is happening or simply refuse to see what is going on as if they cast a “blind eye” on the whole matter. It is time for the light of truth to be turned on and focused, or in horseracing parlance “the blinders must be removed.”
Luke may well have had something in mind about that in relationship to his friend the apostle Paul. As he recounts the story of Paul’s conversion experience in the Acts of the Apostles, or what I like to identify as The Gospel of the Early Church, Paul is “blind” to the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth and then blinded by the light, the “glory” of the resurrected Jesus who appears before him on the Damascus Road. Paul, the former Saul of Tarsus, is not healed from this blindness until he fully professes to Ananias after three days of darkness. When Ananias prays over him, his sight is restored as the “scales fell from his eyes,” or perhaps as the bindings were removed from around his head as often was the treatment for onset blindness. I capture in my mind the image of Lazarus whom Jesus commanded to awake and exit the tomb in which he was buried. As the stone was rolled away and Lazarus appeared, Jesus told the attendants to remove the bindings, the grave clothes from him. We see a similar image and the extension of a healing of vision when Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene. She does not “see” the resurrected Jesus because the glory of God shone about him. She believed he was the gardener or caretaker instead. But, when Jesus called her by name, her “vision” was restored. Where grief had blinded her to the truth, relief opened her eyes so that she could see. The promise of the resurrection was fulfilled as the truth “dawned” on her. So, should it be on our “first day of the week” celebrations as we are those who are in the light of God’s truth as those in whom the light of God’s truth exists. We are of that light which the darkness cannot overcome, the light of life and the light of “our” world. It is through the “eyes” that the world around can see this truth which the gospel has rendered in us by our belief that Jesus is the Christ.
The truth is the light and the life of all people. It is by this truth that the people can be set free and are restored as the people of God. If the “light” is broken then darkness rules. If the “light” is good, then darkness flees. Why then would those who are “in the light” desire to hide it under a bowl or put it in a place where it cannot be seen. Is their intention to keep the light to themselves and to keep others in the dark, especially those who most desperately need to see their way through the dark and out of the dark by the light of true freedom? Does that not indicate that they have no light in them in the first place? Consider the extension of this teaching. If you hide a candle under a bowl or put it in a place where it is “hidden” and the light cannot be seen, what can and probably will happen? Will it not be suffocated and extinguished? Will the light not become swallowed up by darkness without oxygen to breathe or someone to tend to it? The lesson about “The Wise and Foolish Virgins” directs our thinking to this truth. And what was the consequence of those who did not tend their lamps (indicative of their closed eyes and unexpectant hearts)? They missed the wedding party and were left in the dark. John’s recollection of the vision of the New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem was filled with the light of the glory of God in all its fullness. However, beyond the walls of the New Jerusalem was the darkness. No gates needed to be in the twelve gateways found in the walls; only portals were constructed. Why? I have to believe because the darkness cannot make its way against the light and stays at bay. It is also, then, a testimony to those in the light that darkness still exists but never again as a power that feigns superiority to the light of lights with the light of darkness, doubt, fear and obsession with self-will.
Isaiah declared “Those who were dwelling in darkness have seen a great light; those who have dwelt in the land [valley] of the shadow of death a light of hope has dawned.” Matthew captures that prophetic voice between the conclusion of Jesus refusing to succumb to Satan’s tempting offers to forsake the will of God where Satan fled from His presence and the beginning of Jesus’ ministry beginning in Jerusalem, then Judea and then to all the lands of the Gentiles. In Him was the light of truth. Being clothed in righteousness, He conducted Himself according to the Word and will of God so that we, too, might have life eternal and abundant in us and through us for all the world to see what God can do, has done and will continue to do because of His great love for His people. He has no hidden agendas and no secret plans. He is without guile, deception and false intentions. His glory abounds and abides. This is the life that we are intended to live. This is the reality we are intended to share. It is time to put darkness on notice! We are walking through this valley of the shadow of death because this world is not our home. We are bearers of the good news. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It is a welcoming invitation for those in darkness to step into the light of life with us that we might be one in spirit and in truth; that which is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” that leads to the Father as through His only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
May Your Light so shine among us, God, that we are no longer blinded to the truth and blinded by the lie. We are those who see and will continue to look for the light of truth that sets us free to be Yours- the people of Your hand and the sheep of Your pasture. We are those in whom others can and will see the light and pursue that which causes the darkness to flee. We are those who live, serve and pray in the name of Jesus. AMEN!