“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Someone asked me recently what the eye in these verses represented. What was Jesus really saying?
When we want to understand a verse (or a few verses) in the Bible, we cannot simply read them without trying to understand the context of the verse. One way of doing so is to see what happened before and after the particular verse.
In this case, before verses 22-23, Jesus was talking about storing up treasures in heaven that will not be destroyed (vs 19-21). Storing imperishable treasures in heaven is better than storing perishable treasures on earth such as wealth and power. After verses 22-23, Jesus talked about how we cannot serve both God and Money. We must choose one to commit to.
At first, it may seem strange to have verses 22-23 in between since the portions before and after talk about treasure and money. But, it all makes sense when we see the “eye” as representing spiritual perception.
In the Bible, the eye, sight and blindness is used several times as a metaphor for spiritual insight (see Acts 26:17-18, Eph 1:18, Psalm 119:15). Just like how our physical eye helps us to see where our whole body is going, our mind also has an “eye” to help us perceive the world and that guides our whole self in how we make decisions. (Do you “see” what I mean?)
When our eyes are good, it means that we have spiritual insight that helps us understand God’s grace, and we can see the truth that living for Jesus is more precious than having riches and power on this earth. When our eyes are bad, we fail to perceive God’s truth and continue to live for material gain that will not last. We are away from God and blinded by worldly pleasures.
The worst case scenario is when one is unaware. That is when one follows the lure and shiny glamour of the material world, and yet still perceives that he is following the light and the truth. That is even worse than knowing that one is in the wrong and is contemplating about whether one wants to change or not. It is like a deaf person thinking that the person he is talking to is deaf without realizing that he is actually the deaf one. Change cannot happen when one does not even realize that change is needed. That is why that darkness within is so great (vs 23). That person is far from perceiving the truth.
We need to perceive and understand what true and lasting treasure is in the sight of God, and make the decision to serve God, not Money, wholeheartedly.
What are our “eyes” looking at today? Are they focusing on things that can last for all eternity in heaven?
Sister Cherlyn Oh