“Analysis of Matthew 6:22-24,” by Andrew J. Schatkin
Ladies and gentlemen and my fellow thinkers, discerners, and those of you who wish to proceed with the use of your critical faculties and reject political hype; political code words; media slogans; and false messages and falsifications; I ask and bid you accompany me on another intellectual journey where truth and facts are the object and goal and not political correctness but perhaps as we undertake this journey in an intellectually-honest way.
This essay seeks to analyze Matt 6:22-24. I cannot emphasize my vulnerable disqualification for this task of interpreting and seeking to understand the words of Christ ,the only begotten son of the father, who speaks and will always speak to us through his holy word and who in our hearing the word of Christ in the bible, addresses and speaks to us from the mansions and precincts of heaven.These verses say: ‘The eye is the lamp of the body, so if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness how great is the darkness?’ Jesus concludes this rather perplexing series of words with the even more radical and difficult end, saying no man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve god and mammon.’
So, my dear friends, how can we understand this business of the eye being the lamp of he body and if the eye be not sound then the whole body is full of darkness and the conclusion about not serving two masters, god and mammon? The initial words about the eye as the lamp of the body and if sound the whole body will be full of light and if the eye is not sound the whole body will be full of darkness, reveal we are dealing here with an analogy and metaphor. Jesus is saying that if the basic ground of one’s life is sound and the orientation is sound, the overall life will be positive. The analogy of the eye can be interpreted as purity of heart. Perhaps the eye as the lamp can be seen as the goodness and purity of soul, where the soul and life of the person is pure then we have light and, if this is not so, the person is in darkness. The use of the term eye is not to be taken literally, but understood as the pure heart and soul, and if the soul analogized to the eye is not expressive of purity and goodness, then there is darkness, or perhaps better seen and understood, as wickedness, evil, and even confusion and ignorance. The passage seems to contrast the body when the soul is not sound that the entire body and being of the person will be in darkness. I offer here my thoughts at best in an attempt to understand a most difficult saying where Jesus engages in a metaphor with the terms eye, light, and body and leaves us to put the pieces together as best we may.
Finally, there is the equally difficult saying, warning us that we cannot serve two masters, god and mammon. I do have to conclude here that Jesus is warning us here about materialism or devotion to material goods and money. I do not think he means to tell us we should not earn money and have a good life. I do not think god wants people to be poor or deprived of the necessities of life. Jesus means to inform us that we cannot be devoted and serve money and materialism, and that, if we do so and make this the purpose of our lives, then we separate ourselves from god and his purpose for us and for our salvation. We cannot make the mistake that Israel made of worshiping the golden calf and put that idol before Jesus and his love and his plan for our salvation and redemption.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you have found value in my attempt to interpret and explain these challenging and difficult verses by one who as a poor limited human person can only begin to understand the words of the living god and I add here with respect to the saying about two masters and not serving god and mammon, I do not think the interpretation is to be understood as critical of capitalism and endorsing socialism, but the point is the devotion and service and worship of money that Jesus is concerned with, not any particular economic system. God does not want poverty and surely wishes all his children to have good and comfortable lives. The section might be seen as directed to the love and excessive focus on money to the exclusion of god.