To protect the guilty, I’ll not mention which of my sons did the following. He took his vehicle to the gas station, opened the cap, filled it completely and turned on the engine to drive away. But it was rather immediately obvious that something was terribly wrong. Only then did it hit him that his vehicle required diesel fuel rather than the regular gasoline he had absentmindedly just put into it. As I recall, this was a rather costly mistake.
Perhaps this illustration will, in the end, help us to understand this somewhat perplexing, brief passage …
Luke 11:33 –“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. 34 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. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36 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.”
In the previous passage, Jesus asserted that something greater than Jonah or Solomon was in their midst. This was referencing his presence and the coming fulfillment of the kingdom and all that was magnificent about this ultimate event in history.
Verse 33 is talking about how Christ is the light of the world, there in prominence for all to see.
In the next verse where it says Your eye is the lamp of your body, think of the eye as the conduit through which light comes into the body. This is not the idea of letting our light shine.
Then, the phrase When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light, this is speaking of the quality of the light that passes into your life. When you allow the truth of the splendor of who Christ is and what he has done come into your life, you are full of good light and spiritual health. When you let other sorts of light come in, you end up filled with darkness.
The pastor/theologian John Piper said of this, “… there is much that passes for light through the eye that is not light. There are many bright things in the world that keep us from seeing the true light of Christ—just like city lights keep you from seeing the stars.”
So many things in this world may appear, for a time, to be so very good and the stuff of genuine light. But in the end, it is of no more eternal value than total darkness. When in a room that is brightly-lit with many lamps, it may appear very bright … that is, until you open the door and walk out into the midday sunshine on a snow-covered landscape.
We don’t want to be like so many in that generation who had Jesus right there with them but did not appreciate the light in their presence. We want to be people with eyes wide open to receive the light of eternal truths on a daily basis. Don’t fill up on gasoline when you need diesel!