SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The chapter opens with what a lot of people call "the Lord's Prayer." Jesus teaches his followers how to pray and assures them that God is a good father who wants to give them good things.
- When Jesus casts a demon from a man, they claim his power must come from Beelzebub (another name for Satan). Jesus points out that it would be absurd for Satan to work against himself. Why would the devil cast himself out? He reminds them once again that he is doing the work of God the father, and the miracles are evidence of God's promised redemption.
- In verses 29-32, Jesus is angry that the people beg for a miraculous sign. He has done countless miracles among them, yet the people following him around still doubt his power.
- Jesus then turns to the image of light. Why would anyone light a lamp and then hide it? He shares that light can only do good when it is seen.
- When Jesus has dinner at the Pharisee's house, in verses 37-54, the Pharisees get upset because Jesus doesn't go through the ceremonial religious washing before the meal. Jesus explains to them that God isn't concerned with the outside of us, but the inside. What matters is our hearts, and our hearts need to be about loving God and loving people.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- When Jesus teaches about prayer he is not giving us magic words or a magic formula. The idea isn't that we pray the exact words of the example prayer he provides, but that those are the kinds of things we should pray for. And when Jesus says, "Ask and it will be given to you," he's not saying that God is a magic genie here to do our bidding. He won't answer yes to every request because he is a good father who loves to give good gifts to his kids, but is also too wise (and too loving) to give them something they may want but isn't for the best.
- Jesus says, "He who is not with me is against me." This makes it clear that we cannot follow him apathetically, nor can we choose a "moderate" position when it comes to loving God. We must make a choice. Are we on God's side, or are we the opposition? As Bob Dylan said, "Gotta Serve Somebody."
- Jesus compares the eye to a lamp. The eye is a metaphor for our heart and soul. We need to be careful of the things we let into our heart. Is it full of light, or are there pieces of darkness hiding?
- Jesus harshly criticizes the Pharisees at the end of the chapter. They all have one thing in common. They all deal with the sin of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the act of pretending to be something you aren't. The Pharisees cared deeply about their external appearance, and wanted to create the illusion that they were holy and righteous, but they didn't actually love God.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Just like the people who watched Jesus miraculously cast a demon out of a man, we must make a decision. We must take sides. Are we going to go with God? Or are we going to go the other direction? We all serve somebody. Who do you choose to serve?
- If you are a Christ follower, do you let your light shine, or are you afraid of letting people know what you believe? Jesus reminds us that a hidden light is pointless. You have a great hope in God. Don't be afraid to spread his light.
- Are you more focused on the inside or the outside? Do you spend more time worrying about how your life appears to others or about really loving God? Do you spend more time thinking about the impression you make on others or on how you can better love others? What practical steps can you take to make your life more about the inside than the outside?