March 2, 2015
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”
The first century understood eyesight differently than we do today. The health of one’s eyes reflected the interior condition of a person. If their eyes were unhealthy it was symptomatic of their interior life being dark. The eye, Jesus says, is the lamp of the body. The light or lack thereof comes from within a person and shines through their eyes.
“When your eyes are healthy, our whole body also is full of light.”
The Gospel means change from the inside out. Broken human nature wants to try to cover over the darkness within by creating a shiny surface. As we get closer and closer to the cross, Jesus will confront us with just this reality. He is looking for a radiance that comes from the deepest place in person. In fact, he is looking for a quality of inner light and life that only he is capable of putting there.
This is why he calls us to follow him. On another occasion, he made this abundantly clear, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.
Referencing this very thing, the Apostle Paul wrote these words: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6.
Jesus can work with human darkness. What he can’t tolerate are people who try to counterfeit the Light by their false appearances. Jesus delights in humble honesty. He detests hypocrisy.
Human beings have an almost infinite capacity for self deception. Because of this, I want to introduce an ancient prayer that will itself lead us to the cross. It’s called the Jesus Prayer. I will elaborate on it in a few days when we see it in action in the Temple. For now, I want you to focus on the syllables, words and simple grammar of the prayer. We are going to need it for the way ahead. Here it is:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
I want to ask you to trust me on this. Learn this prayer. It’s not one of the 9 prayers of Jesus, but it may very well be the single most important prayer to him.
I’ll see you tomorrow at dinner with a group who refused to learn this prayer. It will not be pretty.
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