“The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light.
But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23 AMP
The eye, physically, is the lamp of the body. If you look around you, you see light. The light is being conveyed into your whole person, into your body. If you close your eyes, what happens?
Everything gets dark. You are in darkness. If you open your eyes, everything is bright. You close your eyes, and you are in the dark again.
Jesus uses this common experience to remind us that the eye is the center of our perception. It is the organ by which light enters the body. What our body does depends largely on our ability to see because our eyes give us a natural ability to maintain our body orientation. Therefore the eyes guide the motions of our body.
When Jesus speaks of the eye, He is of course not just talking at the physical level. What is used here in its literal sense has also a spiritual meaning. The eye has an important spiritual sense in the Bible. It is used in connection with our spiritual eyesight, i.e., the capacity to see and to understand spiritual things.
We often make this kind of connection about the eye when we refer to the mind’s eye. When I say, ‘Do you see what I mean?’ obviously I am not asking whether you can see it with your physical eye. Words are not things that the eye can see.
When I ask that question, I mean, ‘Does your mind, the eye of your mind, perceive what I said?’ In this case, you see with your intellect. Your mind is now serving as your eye. Now, with spiritual eyes, you can see spiritual truths. You can perceive the glory of God and that is what Jesus is talking to us about in this passage.
You remember when Paul was commissioned to preach the gospel; he was commissioned ‘to open the eyes’ of the blind. Jesus said to him, “I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light” (Acts 26:17-18).
Obviously, this was not a question of opening our physical eyes, but to enable us to understand the word of God so that we may receive forgiveness of sins.
Jesus’ mission was also to open the eyes of the blind. When He quoted Isaiah, He said, “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18). Here again the reference is not to physical eyes, but to spiritual understanding.
In the same way, we read in Ephesians 1:18 that Paul says to the Christians in Ephesus, ‘I pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened.’ The eyes of your spiritual understanding being opened.
Many people do not understand the gospel not because they lack intelligence, but because they have no spiritual perception. They are spiritually blind in the sense that they do not understand spiritual things.
You can be a very intelligent person and be unable to make sense of the spiritual truths of God. But when your spirit is alive, you have the capacity to know God and to know yourself in relation to God.