Recently, a seventeen-year-old teenager drove her pickup into oncoming traffic. She crashed into light pole and another car. What was the problem? She had blindfolded herself. One State Patrol officer said: “We shouldn’t have to say this, but we’re gonna: Don’t drive blindfolded.”
Most people will see what this girl did as foolish and lacking common sense. But how many people walk and drive while spiritually blindfolded? Unbelievers, of course, are spiritually blind, but there are many Christians who willingly place a blindfold on their eyes.
Jesus has words for both blind unbelievers and blindfolded believers—
33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light. (Luke 11:33–36)
The first lesson that we learn from these words is this:
1) THE LIGHT OF JESUS IS BRIGHTLY SHINING
Luke 11:33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.
Our first thought here is that this is telling us as Christians not to hide our lights under a bushel, but to be shining witnesses to the world. And true, that’s how Jesus uses this saying in Luke 8:16.
But listen—that is not how this saying is being used here, at least not mainly. The context shows us that it’s not our light that is being shined as witnesses to the world, but Jesus’s light that is being shined and should not be hidden from our hearts. This passage is more about us seeing the light than about us being lights.
Jesus is saying is that His light is not hidden. It’s available for all to see, if they would only look. That’s been the issue in this chapter of Luke.
In Luke 11:29, the people demanded a sign. Jesus replies that there will be no sign but the sign of Jonah. The people of Nineveh respond to the light given by a reluctant and racist prophet. How much more light had the people of Jesus’s day been given! How much more light, with the whole Bible completed, have we been given!
In Luke 11:31, the queen of Sheba personally came a great distance seeking the light of truth and wisdom from Solomon. But now, someone greater than Solomon is here—Jesus! How could anyone miss His light?
The apostle John says of Jesus:
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4–5)
Notice that the issue is not that Jesus isn’t shining in the darkness, but that the darkness doesn’t want anything to do with Him! If we fail to see Jesus, it’s not because He has been hiding His light under a bushel. His life-giving light there for anyone to see.
What is the problem? Why don’t more people come to Jesus’s light?
2) THE PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE IS PERCEPTION
Luke 11:34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
In seventh or eighth grade I walked into my homeroom early and did what every teacher—especially science teachers—love. I asked my teacher how the eye worked. Excited to have a curious student, he drew a diagram of the human eye on the blackboard and lines indicating how light would enter through the lens and focus on a single point on the back of our eyeball. All I remember is that it had something to do with light.
What does Jesus mean that “The light of the body is the eye”? He is using a biological truth to teach a spiritual principle. Just as the eye must perceive light in order for us to see, so also we must perceive spiritual light in order to see spiritually. Our spiritual eyes can have one of two opposing conditions: “single” or “evil.”
We might be tempted to think that the word, “single” (haplous), means to be focused on one single thing, but that is not what the word means. The word “single” is talking about completely put together—a single piece—or, in other words, healthy.
For example, if you had a clay pot that was all one single piece, it would be single…it would be useful or healthy. If it was broke apart, it wouldn’t be single—it wouldn’t be useful, it would be diseased. Or, as Jesus says in this verse, it would be “evil.”
What happens if your eye is not single, if it’s evil or diseased? Then your whole body will be “full of darkness.”
If your eye is single—that is, it’s healthy and working correctly—“thy whole body also is full of light.”
Obviously, Jesus isn’t using the eye in the actual physical sense, but in a metaphorical sense. What is the metaphor? It’s about spiritual perception. Remember, Luke 11:33 is about the light of Jesus. If you have good, healthy spiritual eyes, you can see His light. If your eyes are blinded or diseased, you can’t see His light.
This is obviously true of the unbeliever. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians,
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world [i.e., Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:3–4)
The unbeliever doesn’t need more light from God in order to believe. When someone is blind, more light won’t help. It won’t matter if you switch on more lights in the house or not.
The unbeliever might demand a sign or more evidence, like the Jews did earlier in Luke 11. They say, “If God does this or that, then I will believe in Him.” But the truth is, they don’t need more evidence or more signs.
What does the unbeliever need? The unbeliever needs to recognize that they are blind and open their eyes to the reality of Jesus Christ. We can pray that God will work to open their eyes—to provide providential occurrences in their life that might cause them to see the light. But ultimately, they need to confess their spiritual blindness.
3) THERE IS LIGHT THAT IS DARKNESS
Many non-Christians will claim to see the light. Many of these are religious and attend Christian churches. To those who think they see the light, Jesus issues a warning:
Luke 11:35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
There are people who claim to be full of light, but are really in darkness:
3.1) People Who Follow Other Religions
Most religions have some teaching about light. New Agers especially love to talk about light. And here’s a quote from Islam’s holy book, the Quran:
Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth; a likeness of His light is as a niche in which is a lamp, the lamp is in a glass, (and) the glass is as it were a brightly shining star… (Surah 24:35)
Does this mean that anything that claims to be light is good for us to follow? No, because we know that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). The only true light is Jesus:
12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)
New Agers, Muslims, and other religions will claim something about Jesus—that’s He’s a good prophet, for instance. But they do not see Him as the Bible sees Him—as the one and only Son of God. So the “Jesus” that they follow might be shining to them—but it’s truly a darkness that they follow.
Another group of people who claim to see the light are:
3.2) Liberal Christians
The Bible says that it’s a light for us to follow:
105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)
By Liberal Christians I mean anyone who doesn’t take the Bible as a true light from God. This includes the self-proclaimed Liberal who doesn’t believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. He or she thinks that they are enlightened. They look at the Bible and pick a few verses that they like and throw the rest away because it is from the dark ages. But it is them that is walking in the darkness.
Be warned, however, it’s also possible for Fundamentalist Christians to be practical Liberals when it comes to the Bible. They say the Bible is the inspired Word of God, but they ignore most of it in their day-to-day living. They act as if the Bible isn’t a lamp to their feet.
I remember one gal from Bible College that had a purity necklace when she came at the beginning of the school year—I remember her talking about remaining pure until marriage. By the end of the first quarter, it was well-known what she and her new boyfriend were doing in her dorm room. What happened? She chose to ignore the light of the Bible and walk in darkness.
Fundamentalist Christians can walk in darkness in another way, by being…
3.3) Legalistic Christians
The Pharisees thought themselves the most enlightened of all religious people. They knew the scripture better than anyone. But Jesus called the Pharisees, “blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14). They were quite offended by the idea that they were walking in darkness.
A legalist thinks that they have light within them. In fact, they think they have more and better light than most other believers. But that light they think they have is darkness.
Writing to the Galatians, Paul was sad that they were slipping into legalism:
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6–7)
In short: legalism is not a stricter form of Christianity—it is not Christianity at all. It is walking in darkness.
4) IF LIGHT BE IN YOU, YOU WILL BRIGHTLY SHINE
Luke 11:36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
The key to understanding this verse is to look at the last phrase; “as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.” We have a small flashlight-nightlight plugged into a GFI outlet in our bathroom. It provides just enough light for those late-night trips and is a handy flashlight when needed.
A few times, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and noticed that the faint glow from the bathroom isn’t visible. I’ll walk in and find that the nightlight isn’t on. When it first happened, it baffled me. I thought that the light had failed and it was time for a new one.
But then I discovered the problem—it was the GFI outlet. As many of you know, these outlets have a circuit breaker built in. Something triggered the breaker and the GFI outlet shut off. Eventually, the light’s battery ran done and the light went out. Now, when I see the little flashlight on, it’s evidence to me that the GFI outlet is working.
What Jesus is saying in verse 36 is that if you are full of the true light—not darkness at all—that light will be evidenced to those around.
What sorts of evidence will be shown by those who are full of light? There are several we could look at. Turn to 1 John. The apostle John loved writing about light. Here are the two passages where he mentions light. What is his main point?
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:5–7)
He brings out two evidences of being in the light:
1) It’s not walking in darkness. Now, this darkness needs to be defined biblically. A legalist might have a definition of darkness that isn’t biblical. She might say that doing this certain thing is darkness. But it’s not.
And what’s more, the legalist is often bitter and angry with other Christians who do this certain thing they hate. Bitterness and anger are walking in the darkness (Ephesians 4:31). So the legalist thinks they are walking in the light when they are actually walking in the darkness!
2) It’s also having loving fellowship with other Christians. John is very insistent that a primary evidence of walking in the light is loving and being together with other Christians. Look at what he says in the next passage:
8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. (1 John 2:8–10)
Now, this doesn’t mean that if you love the two or four or six closest Christians to you that you are doing alright. The thing about the Christian church is that there are a lot of different people in it all bound together with a common thread—we are in Christ Jesus.
But we have different skin colors, different ethnic cultures, different languages, different upbringings, and even different opinions.
If all we do is love the other Christians who are exactly like us, and criticize or make jokes about the others, we haven’t loved our brothers and sisters and we have at least a streak of darkness in our hearts.
There are other evidences of light that we could look at—the fruit of the Spirit for instance—but this should give us enough to meditate and ponder on for now: Are you not walking in darkness? Are you loving your brothers and sisters in Christ?
Is the light that you claim to see brightly shining in your life?
Maybe you’ve been listening to this and something has awoken in your heart. Perhaps, for the first time, your eyes seem to be seeing Jesus’s light for real. Now what?
1) Confess that you have been blind. Pride is what blinds us. All Satan has to do is appeal to our pride, and we’ll blindfold our own eyes in a heartbeat. But pride is the root of sin, and sin is what condemns us to an eternity in Hell if we don’t trust in Christ.
2) Recognize what Christ did for you on the cross and by rising from the dead. Christ paid the penalty for your prideful sin by humbly dying in your place. His resurrection proves that God accepted His sacrifice.
3) Start trusting Christ. Or, to put it in the metaphor of light, see and trust the light that Christ gives us. Trust that when the Bible says we are saved by grace and not by works—that that’s really the way we are saved! That’s the light that lights your path to Heaven.
4) Keep trusting Christ. This is not a one-time decision that you make and then you go home and forget about it. If you have made a true decision to trust Christ, you will keep trusting Christ. His light will remain in you.
As you get to know Christ better, you will be able to perceive more and more of His light. You will see that you have dark areas of your heart that need His light. As you confess those dark areas to Christ and allow Him to take command of those areas you will become more of a “bright shining of a candle.”