Scurrying into Darkness
We have a new guinea-pig called Sugar Cookie. He has an unusual name for a boy, but he is white and light brown which is why Daryl, my son, named him that way.
Spotting the guinea-pig was a problem because every time we turned on the light he would scurry away to his shelter. He is less nervous now, but he spends a lot of time living in darkness. It is sometimes easy to point the finger at the godless masses and accuse them of loving darkness, like Daryl’s guinea-pig, but Jesus is leveling his accusations at religious people. In recent days Muslim Jihadists have beheaded journalist James Foley, Jewish people have killed Hamas leaders and also women and children in Gaza, and the Russian Orthodox Church sides with Putin on Ukraine. Depending on our political stance, each of these acts might be seen as evil. However, we easily continue in pointing the finger away from ourselves. The resentment that resulted in Jesus’ death starts here in Luke 11. He claims that his teaching and his kingdom will be a like a lamp for people showing them the path in which they should walk. The religious people of his day have a different perspective and Jesus takes an offensive, exclusivist perspective. He calls the religious practices of his day dark and blinding. Because people were following rules, some of which were laid out by God in the Old Testament and many of which they had invented to keep themselves pure, they thought they were walking in the light. However, Jesus says that their teaching is so dark that it causes people to fall into empty graves. Their ‘faith’ was not about a dynamic relationship with God, it was about a rigid series of rules which prevented intimacy with God.
This last accusation comes home to the church. Many people have substituted a radical faith in Jesus with a nice set of pleasant rules which demand very little from middle-class people in many western countries. If the rules of pleasant society are challenged and a radical call to exclusive and total commitment to the person of Jesus is requested by anyone, they are seen as strange. In centuries past they were labeled an ‘enthusiast’, now they might be called a ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘extremist’. Our present infatuation with ‘balance’ doesn’t gel with Jesus’ calling. He does not call for people to balance commitment to him with commitment to our religious traditions, daily responsibilities, and work commitments. He becomes the foundation upon which we build a life of religious tradition, daily responsibility and work commitment. He becomes the person around whom we build our lives. He becomes the capstone. This kind of teaching offended the Jewish culture in which he lived, but he was proposing a Judaism centered on him. He was the fulfillment of all they hoped for.
Do we hide in routine? Are we alive in the way we were built to live? Is God our vision?
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
- If the lamp of the body lights the way, how does this connect with people falling into empty graves?
- Why were the Pharisees upset?
- How does Jesus treat his host?
- What false lamps are given to light our way today?
- How does one truly train their eyes to be a lamp so that their feet walk in the right way?
As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.
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,[g] your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy,[h] 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.”
37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”
45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
47 “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
53 When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say.