29 As the crowd pressed in on Jesus, he said, “This evil generation keeps asking me to show them a miraculous sign. But the only sign I will give them is the sign of Jonah. 30 What happened to him was a sign to the people of Nineveh that God had sent him. What happens to the Son of Man will be a sign to these people that he was sent by God.
31 The queen of Sheba will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here — but you refuse to listen. 32 The people of Nineveh will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here — but you refuse to repent.
33 No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.
34 Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. 35 Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. 36 If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”
Like the generation Jesus addressed here, we still look for signs and we still ignore all the miracles going on around us. The signs we typically look for in the U.S. are signs of success. If lots of people are coming to watch, if a lot of money is being generated, then it must be a success. And if it’s a church, then God must be in it. Those are the signs we most often pay attention to. There are also some who still run after every religious, psychological high they can experience. And increasingly, we look for signs that someone is on “our side” of the political-social spectrum. We have a whole list of litmus test issues that you must agree with us on, or else you cannot possibly be reading Scripture well or hearing from God.
What I think this passage is encouraging us to do is turn our back on all those false signs, avert our eyes, and focus on what fills our eyes with light, our hearts with love, and our souls with peace. You don’t have to look very far for the pseudo-signs of success, hype, or argument. The device you are reading this on likely inundates you with such every single day. Our eyes are like apertures exposing the film that is our souls. The more of that stuff we let in, the darker the exposure will be. Let in more light. Let in less darkness. The more light we let in, the more we can illuminate the world around us.
(Apologies to all the youngsters for the old film camera reference.)
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.