Seeing with Clear Eyes

Understanding the Red Letters   Bonus

I have written previously about the challenge of interpreting the Sermon on the Mount in this series about the red letters.  To be clear, the message of Matthew chapters 5 through 7 is not a set of guidelines for living the Christian life.  But neither do we just cast it aside as an old covenant message for an old covenant people.  It appears to me to be an intertwined mix of three threads in Jesus’ teaching to His Jewish audience.  Jesus is preaching old covenant Law, Jesus is preaching Law 2.0 (an updated version of the Law), and last, Jesus is giving us a glimpse of life under the new covenant.

A passage that I didn’t cover previously because I really didn’t know what to make of it is Matthew 6:22-23.  Could these words of Jesus be a glimpse of the coming new covenant?  “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)

Think of it this way.  The eye … the eye is how we perceive the world around us.  Jesus came preaching, “Repent and believe the gospel.”  Repent, as we know is “changing one’s mind.”  Another way to say it is “changing one’s perception.”  We perceive with the eye.  Jesus spoke often about truly “seeing” the gospel.

is the lamp … the lamp illuminates what we see with our eye … of the body … the body is our earthly experience.  What we perceive with our eyes will illuminate our earthly experience.

If your eye is clear … if your perception is seeing correctly, … your whole body will be full of light … the light is the kingdom of God inside you.  This is a preview of what is coming in the new covenant; the light of the kingdom of God will shine in us.  It will shine in us who repent (change our perception to see clearly) and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If your eye is bad … if you are not perceiving and receiving God’s offer of salvation … your whole body will be full of darkness … you will experience the total darkness that comes with being a lost person, outside of the kingdom of God.  Or said another way … If then the light that is in you is darkness … Wait a minute, how can the light in us be darkness?

Jesus said to the Pharisees, even as they were not believing in Him, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).  How could Jesus say that?  Because the kingdom of God was available to the Pharisees just as it is to all men.  But they refused to believe, they denied the kingdom available to them.  That is how the light in us can be darkness.  We reject the light when we reject the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

When the light goes out because of one’s unbelief, … how great is the darkness! … the darkness is great because it is literally the difference between life and death.  The light is life.  The darkness is death.  The darkness is spiritual death.  And the darkness is total.  There is no partial darkness for the lost.

In the gospel of John, Jesus speaks often about light and darkness signifying saved to eternal life and those who are lost.  And this passage, a bit obscure in Matthew chapter 6, is a preview of the salvation offer that is being announced by Jesus throughout the gospels, “Repent and believe the gospel.”  If you have believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ, your eye is clear and you are full of light.  Shine on, my friends.