What did Jesus mean when He said your eye is the lamp of your body?
Hi, welcome to today’s Little Lesson, another special farm field edition, and I’m so glad that you’ve joined me as we continue working our way through Jesus’ most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount.
We’ve come to about the middle of Matthew chapter six, where Jesus starts talking about his disciples’ relationship with money, at least what he expects of them in regard to money and possessions. And in our previous Little Lesson, we started in Matthew 6 and verse number 19 where Jesus said do not store up for yourselves treasures on the earth where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up your treasure in heaven, because those things don’t happen in heaven.
So you’re eliminating all the risks that we normally take with our money and possessions, because we often lose them and they perish right before our eyes. The moths get them. Something that happened much more historically than recently. Rust certainly is still consuming things and thieves are still breaking in and stealing things. And Jesus is trying to help us to avoid that pain of loss, and when you think about it, when you die, you lose everything. You don’t anything because you leave the earth. Exit stage right. It just makes sense to lay up as much of our treasure as we possibly can in heaven.
Now these verses have been variously interpreted and I just think that oftentimes they’re interpreted in such a way that it’s obvious that people are just trying to wiggle out of what it obviously says. Some folks say that it doesn’t matter what you have, as long as you don’t treasure it, and so it all comes down to just the attitude of your heart. Well, Jesus went on to say where your treasure is, there your heart is. So you can’t disassociate the location of your treasure with what’s going on in your heart. If your treasure’s on this earth, guess what? Jesus said your heart is on this earth. But if your treasure’s in heaven, well that’s a good sign because that means your heart is in heaven.
And so today’s question about Jesus saying the eye being the lamp of the body, let’s read that verse in verse number 22, Matthew 6:22. “The eye is the lamp of the body. 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, and if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness.”
Now that’s a little bit cryptic, isn’t it? People have been scratching their heads over that particular verse or those couple of verses for quite some time. And I want to first of all remind you of the most important thing to remember when it comes to interpreting any part of the Bible, and that is context.
Context. Jesus didn’t say these couple of verses we just read in a vacuum. No, he said them within the context of other surrounding verses. And it’s very clear that he’s talking about money and possessions, because he starts off don’t lay up your treasure on this earth, lay it up in heaven, et cetera, et cetera. The verse that follows the ones that we just read, jumps back to a clear discussion about money. “No one can serve two masters … now I’m reading from Matthew 6:24 … for either you’ll hate the one and love the other, or he’ll be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
So this whole section is about mammon. The whole thing about the eye being the lamp of the body, your eye being clear, your body being full of light, your eye being bad, your whole body will be full of darkness, it all has something to do with money. When some guy gets up there and says well, you know you can look into people’s eyes and you can tell what’s going on deep in their soul, because Jesus said the eye is the lamp of the body.
That’s not what he’s talking about. And that guy’s ignoring context. And may I also add, you got to take the context of the whole Bible, because Jesus has been speaking from Genesis to Revelation. The Holy Spirit inspired it all. Jesus doesn’t disagree with the Holey Spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t disagree with Jesus. It’s all coming from one source, God. And so it’s the same message. And if you’re interpreting one part of the scripture so it contradicts another part of the scripture, you’re interpreting that part of the scripture wrong.
All right, so keeping all that in mind, I think the key to understanding these couple of verses about the eye being the lamp of the body and the eye being clear, full of light, body light, body full of light, eye being bad, body full of darkness comes down to understanding one particular part of that phrase where Jesus said if your eye is bad or I’ve got a little number one by my word bad in the New American Standard, you go into the margin and it says evil, poneros is actually I believe the Greek word.
That expression, the bad eye or the evil eye, is found in other places in scripture. It’s found in Proverbs, I think Proverbs, I think around chapter 26. I’m going to guess 52. But you go look it up and see if I’m right or wrong. But I can basically quote it to, at least paraphrase it. It says a man with an evil eye hastens after wealth, and he does not know that want will come upon him.
And so the evil eye is an expression for the greedy heart. The man with the evil eye hastens after wealth. He wants it quick. And so he’s apt to give into temptations to get it in illegitimate ways. And so an evil eye … well, your eye can’t be evil. Your eye has no moral properties. So it’s symbolic of the greedy heart. And you can imagine how that expression started. The evil eye, the bad eye. There he is, always looking to take advantage of somebody or rip somebody off or make a quick buck or deceive somebody. That’s the evil eye, looking for an illegitimate immoral way to make a quick buck. The man with the evil hastens after wealth.
Jesus used this expression about the evil eye in one of his parables. It was the parable of the landowner where he hired some guys early in the morning and then as the day progresses, he hires other guys who weren’t working. And at the end of the day he pays them all, starting with the guys who he hired last, and he pays those guys a full day’s wages. And the guys in the back of the line who worked throughout the heat of the day, they go, oh, man, we’re going to get really a lot of money here because he’s paying the guys that worked one hour a whole day’s wage, and we’ve worked 12 hours here in the fields.
And when they get to the front of the line, he gives them one day’s wage and they grumble about it. And the master says, hey, what are you grumbling about? Didn’t you agree with me for a day’s wages? And then he says is your eye … now the New American Standard says … is your eye envious because I am good? Literally in the Greek, is your eye poneros, evil, bad because I am good? You see once again there, it is very clear, the evil eye represents the person who is greedy in their heart.
And that fits the context. We’re reading about something about money. And Jesus said if your eye is bad, your whole body is full of darkness. Now I’m not talking literally, of course, about your physical body, but your soul, your person, your being. Darkness represents a lack of truth. You don’t have the light of the truth of God’s revelation and understanding.
And so if you’ve got an evil eye, that is if you you’ve got a greedy heart, your serving mammon see, not God. Then you’re full of darkness. Man, you’re totally blind. And you know what? We’re out of time, and so we’re going to have to pick up here on our next Little Lesson. So a little bit of a cliff hanger here. It really gets even more interesting as we continue, so don’t miss the next episode. All right, thanks for joining me. God bless you.