Series:  Life Lessons from Dr. Luke

Got a Light

Luke 11: 33-54


Light is a very useful thing – although there are exceptions for those who are vision impaired, without light it would be difficult to do many of the things we do every day.  Light can help us find things.  External light only reveals the outside shell – can’t tell you what is on the inside.  Three coffee cups.  Open:  empty    coffee  muddy   dark spots in this coffee.  Only by shining the light inside the cup can we tell the difference.


Here in verses 33-37 Luke presents three statements about light that Jesus has uttered.  He says:

          We don’t light a lamp and then hide it under a bushel  - witnessing

          Your eye is the gatekeeper that allows good into your life. – be careful what you embrace

Statement in verses 36 

 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.” (NIV)

          Make sure that your inward being is filled with light. 

At first these all seem disconnected ideas – what is he talking about here? 

When we put these ideas together, we see that Jesus is saying that I want your inner light to be the same as your outer light. Jesus is concerned not just about the outside of you – what people see when they look at you – he is also concerned about the inside of you – your innermost feelings, values, principles.  Who you are when no one is around.


Jesus enjoyed the entertainment options of his day: he went to weddings, celebration feasts and he went to people’s houses to eat.  Vs. 37 we find him gong to the house of a Pharisee.  several others would have been there as well.  Dr. Luke puts this passage directly after the passage on light to give us a practical example of this inner light that Jesus wants us to have.  Shined the light on these men externally – they would be spotless but there were some dark spots hidden beneath the surface.


As he is eating, the people notice he didn’t wash his hands. Not a matter of hygiene but a ceremonial washing. It was an elaborate production.  When called on it by the Pharisees Jesus responds:


It does no good to clean the outside of the vessel if the inside is dirty.  It is simply a façade.  If you make a good showing on the outside but aren’t changed inside, you are simply foolish. 

Religion that is simply concerned with looking good but never doing anything with it is useless.  Have you ever known anyone who looked good on the outside but it was later revealed that there were some dark spots on the inside.

          Tiger Woods  14 major championships his income outside of golf was over $1mm a year, beautiful wife – 2 children  toast of the town.  Dark spot – his sexual partners were many and his life became to come apart.


          Bernie Madoff  started an investment firm with $5M in 1960, grew that to the 6th largest in the world, as he became successful, he used his influence as a member of a certain religious group to attract others of the same religion – they trusted him – he was one of their own; he became an extremely wealthy person who owned a $7 m apartment in Manhattan and several other homes valued over $5m each a yatch and 2 private planes jetted him and his family around the world, ate at the most expensive restaurants and bought the most expensive clothes available.  Despite the shine of the outside, Bernie had a dark spot inside.  He was a fraud.  Finally his sons alerted authorities about their famous dad and his financial empire crumbled under investigation that revealed a Ponzi scheme. He had cheated investors out of approximately $50B.  He was convicted in June of 2009 and sentenced to 150 years in prison.  His demise caused the bankruptcy of several non profit foundations who lost all of their money as well as over 4,800 other clients.  There have been at least 3 suicides attributed to this loss.  You can’t always tell by looking at the outside what’s on the inside.


In the next three verses, Jesus points out some dark spots in the lives of these Pharisees.  from verses 42—44 he pronounces three woes on the Pharisees because their insides don’t match the outside.

                             Dark Spots


First:  vs. 42  you tithe but ignore justice and love

Very meticulous about giving the tithe.  This was an agricultural society – the tithe was to be “1/10 of everything that was grown for food and cultivated from the soil” animals – grains – vegetables etc.  rue was a medicinal herb – aloe plant – it was not necessary to tithe that but they did. 

When it came to obeying the Old law; there were none better than the Pharisees.  spotless

Jesus does not say:  don’t tithe.  He says that’s good but you are neglecting justice and the love of God. 

          Why are you bribing judges so that you win lawsuits          why are you abusing women and making them second class citizens      why are you not loving people who cannot repay you   not helping the poor


For the last 2000 years there has always been a dynamic in churches concerning the message of salvation and spiritual growth against social justice issues.  Some groups emphasize one and some the other.  But Jesus says:  it is a moot question – we should do both.  We need to give to the local body of Christ but we also need to reach out to those around us with justice and love.

Outside looks good but inside  - dark spot.


Vs. 43  you seek prominence instead of significance

The most important seats in the house were not only in the front but they were facing the audience.  The closer to the front the more important you were.  The most important would come in last with their robes flowing and take their place so everyone could see their importance. 


In recent years, many congregations are moving their pastors off the platform.  I have wrestled with that.  Why do I still sit on the platform most of the time.  1 see me worshipping   2. because I am a hands on pastor – I like to look in your eyes – love you with my eyes – see if someone is missing so I can follow up. 


Vs. 44 you contaminate others

This is a reference that is totally foreign to us. Walk over an unmarked grave – what is that? 

Num. 19:6 says that anyone who touches a grave even accidentally will be unclean for seven days.  One of the restrictions if you were unclean, you couldn’t worship for 7 days.  Barred from intimacy with God.  He says:  your influence rather than helping people is keeping them from a relationship with God.  You think you are leading people to God – you’re actually leading them away from him.  Dark spot on the inside 


Scribe or a lawyer pipes up – when you insult them, you insult us also.  Jesus was actually an equal opportunity offender. 

When we think of lawyers we think of  trial lawyers like Johnny Cochran type of people.  This is not the type of lawyer he is talking to.  They are experts in the field of interpreting scripture and adding their comments so people would not disobey the OT law. 


Vs. 46  you make unrealistic expectations  

While you are adding to the hundreds of laws that people must obey to keep the outside clean, there is no way they can do it.  It’s the old ‘earn your way to God by works system”  that Jesus came to destroy.  Antithesis of grace. 


The scribes were experts in finding loopholes:  see Barclay:   this is religion  dark spot on the inside. 


Vs. 47  you only honor dead prophets

The prophets and the Pharisees had a love hate relationship    the prophets would tell them they were doing something wrong  -  the Pharisees would ignore them.     Even kill them    

And then when they were dead – weren’t those prophets great?  Like some funeral services – a scoundrel but at your funeral – the pastor made you sound like Mother Teresa. Let’s build a monument for them.  

Hey I got an idea:  how about listening to them???  Jesus says  your lips honor me but your hearts are far from me.


Vs. 52  you actually hurt those you think you are helping

Their interpretation of scriptures and endless rules, exceptions and mandates were so complicated that no one could keep them.   Instead of majoring on the mega themes of scripture they were constantly trying to major on the minors. 


We see all six of these woes present in 21st century Christianity:

          Tithe but ignore social justice

          Seek personal glory and prominence

          Unrealistic expectations of Christians that they themselves cant even keep

          Instead of concentrating on the major themes of scripture they bog people down in matters of preference to such a degree that they give up on Christianity altogether. 

          What are your dark spots?

Ask you two questions which will say a lot about your inner light?

Would people say you are more concerned about rules or relationships?  Pharisees were rule centered; Jesus was people centered


          Would people say you are more religious or more spiritual?  What’s the difference? 


Religious people are anxious to put up a good front – to keep the outside clean. .


Spiritual people are anxious to keep the inside clean – to walk with you on your spiritual journey as we discover the continual will of God for our lives.


Religious people are anxious to tell you why you are wrong and they are right. They never admit they are wrong.

Spiritual people are anxious to look at the scriptures with an open mind to God’s leading. They are not afraid to say I was wrong.


Religious people are anxious to extend judgment.

Spiritual people are anxious to extend grace because they have received grace.


Does the inside match the outside?  If God shined the light of his love inside you what would he see?