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Bible GenevaContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? You decide.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Luke 11:33-36

The Light in You

 33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

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Most of Luke 11 concerns warnings about the sins of self-righteousness and spiritual blindness. We read of people accusing Christ of healing in Satan’s name, His warning of faithless conversions and His rebuke of those who continued to ask for signs.

The rest of the chapter continues in this vein, culminating in another confrontation between our Lord and the Jewish hierarchy.

Today’s reading concerns the ability to see and receive His eternal truth.

Jesus said that no one lights a lamp then conceals the illumination it provides (verse 33). He meant that He had not hidden His teachings from anyone. As Matthew Henry explains:

It is a great privilege that the light of the gospel is put on a candlestick, so that all that come in may see it, and may see by it where they are and whither they are going, and what is the true, and sure, and only way to happiness.

Our Lord used the analogy of impaired eyesight to make his point (verse 34). An eye lets in light in the physical world. A bad or impaired eye cannot do so, regardless of the amount of illumination. In spiritual terms, He is the Light and had been revealing Himself to everyone during His ministry. He sent His apostles out to do the same teaching and healing. He invested His disciples with the same divine powers. However, whilst many marvelled, others considered His miracles to be satanic or accused Him of blasphemy.

Jesus warned them once again about spiritual darkness and self-righteousness (verse 35). Those who are open to His truth and are moved to repent of their sins will be made pure and bear the fruits of faith (verse 36).

Henry says (emphases mine):

Now, according as this is, so the light of divine revelation is to us, and our benefit by it it is a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death. (1.) If this eye of the soul be single, if it see clear, see things as they are, and judge impartially concerning them, if it aim at truth only, and seek it for its own sake, and have not any sinister by–looks and intentions, the whole body, that is, the whole soul, is full of light, it receives and entertains the gospel, which will bring along with it into the soul both knowledge and joy. This denotes the same thing with that of the good ground, receiving the word and understanding it. If our understanding admits the gospel in its full light, it fills the soul, and it has enough to fill it. And if the soul be thus filled with the light of the gospel, having no part dark,–if all its powers and faculties be subjected to the government and influence of the gospel, and none left unsanctified,–then the whole soul shall be full of light, full of holiness and comfort. It was darkness itself, but now light in the Lord, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light, Luke 11:36. Note, The gospel will come into those souls whose doors and windows are thrown open to receive it and where it comes it will bring light with it

The problem with Jesus’s audiences and the Sanhedrin was that they were so convinced of their own self-righteousness that they shut out the Light in front of them.

John MacArthur unpacks it this way:

They were wicked because they were laying the responsibility for their unbelief at the feet of Jesus and simply saying, “You didn’t make Your point. We didn’t have enough light. We came to the conclusion we came to because that’s all the information You gave us. You left us in the dark.”

But that wasn’t really the issue. They were blind willfully because they hated His message. They hated the indictment of their sin and hypocrisy and false religion and self-righteousness. They hated the idea that He called on them to acknowledge themselves as poor prisoners blind and oppressed, sinners under the judgment of God headed for eternal punishment who needed to repent and be saved. They hated that message. And so it skewed their ability to see the truth. You remember back in Luke 4 when Jesus went to His own synagogue and preached one sermon and told those self-righteous people in His own town that He had grown up with that they were not who they thought they were. They were not right with God. They were alienated from God. They were poor prisoners, blind and oppressed, who needed to be saved, who needed to repent–and they tried to kill Him after one sermon. They were blind, and they were willfully blind ...

The light of Christ is extended to the ends of the earth. It’s not about the revelation; it’s about the perception. And the lamp of the soul is the mind. The eye of the soul is the heart. And your hearts and minds are blind if you cherish your sin. You stay in a state of blindness. It may be that you cherish immorality and you cherish wickedness and vile kind of conduct, but in the case of these people, they cherish their self-righteous hypocrisy and their religion and their self-styled morality. They denied the basic principle of all that the Bible teaches that men are sinners, can’t do anything about it and are headed for eternal judgment unless they repent and ask God to forgive them. And there is nothing we can do to change that; it all must be done by God, and is done through Christ.

This is why self-righteousness and a false sense of morality are so dangerous. Some notional Christians fall into the same trap. Most secularists do, too. Several years ago the UK’s Metro newspaper carried a survey of Britons responding to the question, ‘Are you a good person?’ Two-thirds of respondents said they were! Imagine if Christ were among us today the way He was for His own people. It’s unlikely we’d listen to what He has to say. We would probably want Him to die, just as His own people did. We’re good; we don’t need a Saviour. We’ve saved ourselves through good works, a nutritious diet, a smoke-free atmosphere, yoga, meditation and so on. We would probably accuse our Lord of not respecting us. And we can see this in the number of people who either announce their atheism straightaway or the Christians who poke their noses into other people’s lives but never examine their own souls.

Henry counsels:

Take heed that the eye of the mind be not blinded by partiality, and prejudice, and sinful aims. Be sincere in your enquiries after truth, and ready to receive it in the light, and love, and power of it and not as the men of this generation to whom Christ preached, who never sincerely desired to know God’s will, nor designed to do it, and therefore no wonder that they walked on in darkness, wandered endlessly, and perished eternally.

Next time: Luke 11:37-44

 

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