The Forty: Day Twenty-One
Scripture Reading: Luke 11:33-52
Jesus was always teaching in creative ways that would help His listeners understand. He would drive home His point using illustrations, parables, and things that were common in that day. For us this can feel obscure and confusing. It’s hard to grasp the true importance and dependence on everyday items like clay pots and lamps. Would the lessons sink in differently if they were about things we can’t imagine life without like cars, gas stoves, wifi, and smartphones?
Jesus uses a lamp to illustrate His teaching about light. He makes the point that if you own a lamp – it’s unlikely tucked away in a tight corner or shoved in a cabinet. That wouldn’t allow the lamp to do the very thing it was designed to do. Jesus likely used this illustration because the timeless universality of the experience of light and darkness is something we can all understand without explanation.
In this particular passage of Luke, Jesus uses the example of light as He speaks to the Jewish leaders of the time. With typical Jesus brilliance, He quickly switches the metaphor and turns the lesson into a question not of light — but sight. He does this by drawing a parallel between a lamp and our eyes. Instead of lighting a room, the eyes become lenses that light the body and ultimately the heart itself. In verse 35 Jesus cautions that we must be careful that the light within us isn’t actually darkness.
Light reveals an awareness and enlightenment of the areas that darkness might conceal. Darkness hinders our ability to make out clearly what is ahead or around. A bright lamp placed correctly in a room can light up every corner so that there are no dark spaces. On the contrary, a lamp tucked away in a cabinet or still in the box wouldn’t serve its purpose of flooding the room.
Let’s consider the same concept in regard to ourselves. As we allow the light of Jesus to filter in, He illuminates even the dark corners. The light of His message and truth reveals the dark areas where we may struggle with insecurity, greed, or lust. Jesus’ message wasn’t given in a corner or tucked away out of sight – it’s been spread around for all with the purpose of shedding light on areas of bondage, hurt, and secret sin.
Here’s the key: the reception of the light is dependent upon us. When we purchase a lamp we have to take it out of the box and place in the right place in our home for it to serve its purpose. It’s the same idea here. We get to determine whether we’ll have good eyes – or bad eyes. In verse 35 Jesus cautions that we must be careful that the light within us isn’t actually darkness. We see this play out as Jesus accepts an invitation to dinner at the home of a Pharisee (an expert of the law). Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal as was customary at this time.
As Jesus speaks to these religious leaders He begins to expose their secret sin, revealing the true motives they have attempted to conceal through the appearance of good. It’s easy to sit back and judge these guys as hypocrites. We would never ever do something nice for someone with a hidden motive of looking good, right? The truth is that we’re all guilty of stealth motives and selfish intentions hidden in acts of kindness and generosity.
Will you accept the challenge to invite God to illuminate the parts of you where you may have allowed the darkness to conceal and ask God to reveal?
Because of the sacrifice of Jesus — light is everywhere — it’s always available to us. We just have to take the time to see it.
- Do you have areas of hidden sin?
- Consider a recent act of kindness or generosity. Examine your intentions and see if there is any part of that act that would be tied to a selfish intent.
- Pray today and ask Jesus to continue to apply His filter of light to your heart and mind. Ask God to reveal the places in which you’ve allowed the darkness to conceal secret sin or stealth motives.