Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Luke 11:33-34 This little gospel light of mine

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, July 23, 2018

A Lamp and a Lampstand
(Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 4:21-23)

33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a hidden place or under a basket. He sets it on a stand so that those who come in may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is full of light. But when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.

These words from our Lord don’t need clever intellectual gymnastics to understand. If you have a lamp, you don’t hide it. You let the light shine out. If your eyes are good, then the light will shine in.

Remember that Jesus was responding to accusations from the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law that he was somehow in league with the devil, driving out demons through the collusion of the devil himself. They were happy to throw that kind of accusation at Jesus because their experience with the Roman government and their own king was based on just that sort of collusion and behind-the-scenes betrayal. They were seeing conspiracy everywhere around them at the courts of the Herods. Rome’s fingers seemed to be like tentacles, penetrating every group, every house, and every synagogue.

Jesus gave them proof after proof that this wasn’t the case with him. The Lord showed patience and good humor in doing so. He could have just walked away from them, dismissing them with a wave of his hand, or even shaking the dust from his feet. Instead, he taught them with five, six or even seven different lessons. Like a good teacher, Jesus threw and threw the lesson to them until it was caught.

The word for “hidden place” is κρύπτη (krypte), which could be translated literally as crypt, or cellar, but not in the sense of a modern basement or lower level of a house. This was a secret chamber, like a root cellar or the cramped cable tier of a sailing ship, just large enough to store small barrels or boxes or other goods, but not large enough for a person to fit. This would hardly be the place to set up a lamp. In the same way, one wouldn’t hide a lit lamp under a small bushel basket (it may or may not help us to know that a μόδιον [modion] was a basket holding a peck, or about two gallons of dry goods). Under most circumstances, what good would a lamp do under there? Get it out where it will do some good. This is what Jesus had done with the gospel. He wasn’t hiding anything.

Jesus turns our attention inward, too. His references to “the eye” are in the singular, not the plural. Someone with one bad eye can still see, but Jesus was talking about spiritual sight, not physical vision. His miracles were done out in the open for anyone to see. Why couldn’t the Pharisees see what he had done? It was because their spiritual vision was infected and even blind.

This is what we want to remember:

A lamp. You have the gospel and the whole counsel of the word of God. Love it because it brings peace (Psalm 119:165). Don’t hide it. Let it shine out!

An eye. You have the gospel preached to you through the word of God and the preaching of your pastor. Meditate on it and its boundless wisdom (Psalm 119:96-97). Don’t cover it up. Let it shine within!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

Browse Devotion Archive