16 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”Luke 8:16-18, ESV
Jesus is the most polarizing figure in all human history, and that was by His own design. Did you know that every major religion in the world has a view on who Jesus is and what Jesus accomplished? Christianity is the only religion that believes Jesus is the incarnate God who accomplished atonement for the sins of the world. Still, all other major religions do have their own official opinion of who Jesus was. Why do other religions like Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism have any opinion of Jesus at all? I think that is an interesting question and a bit off-topic here, but it does point our attention to the fact that Jesus is the most polarizing figure in all human history. Christianity has no official opinion of any other major world religions except to say that they are all false.
These world religions I have mentioned by name comprise about 76% of the world’s population. About 16% of the world’s population is considered non-religious. Even among those non-religious people, there are many individual opinions of who Jesus was. I have not personally met anyone anywhere that did not have an opinion of who Jesus was. You might feel like I’m beating a dead horse, but I want us to consider how polarizing Jesus is in our world. Jesus claimed to be the only way to eternal life, and therefore all other “ways” are paths into eternal death. Even among the 31% of the world’s population that identifies as Christian, there are dissenters. How polarizing is Jesus? C.S. Lewis famously said, “Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.” Christ Himself and all of His followers’ central claim is that he is the Lord God Almighty, and all who will not repent and believe in Him will eternally perish.
In our passage, Luke 8:16-18, Jesus tells us to “take care how you hear.” The reason to be careful with how you hear His words is due to the danger of misusing the grace of God. Christians ought to hear and obey, but when self-professing Christians would choose not to obey, they are at risk of losing “even what he thinks that he has. (Luke 8:18)” Jesus’ warning is most serious and polarizing. All people are categorized under two headings in Jesus’ teaching here. The first category is people who have “light,” and the second is those who do not have “light.” There is no third option.
We must be careful how we hear Jesus so we might avoid losing the light that we think we have already received. Jesus’ analogy is that all who hear and obey have received light. So His argument continues with the analogy to warn us to continue to obey His words or else lose the light we think we have received. There seems to be a distinction between actually receiving light and merely imagining that we have received light. How can I distinguish the two? How could I know that I have received “light” and not only supposed that I have? Jesus said, “those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” Therefore, it appears that the difference between those two categories of people is repentance. Walking into the light to have my personal darkness dispelled is analogous to repentance.
To be careful how I hear Jesus reminds me to be a doer of the word who responds with action. In the first of his 95 theses, Martin Luther wrote that the Lord Jesus “willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.” repentance is not a momentary act but a disposition of a Christian heart. Those who hear Jesus’ words but find no need for repentance are those people Jesus identifies as thinking they have the light, but the light is removed from them further. Be careful how you hear. Brothers and sisters, we must understand that we must live in the light of Christ and therefore be repentant people. Many will refuse to live in Jesus’ radiance. Some will suggest that repentance was something once done, and now the Christian is free to play. Beware, O Christian, how you respond to Jesus’ words.
If Christ is not all to you he is nothing to you. He will never go into partnership as a part Saviour of men. If he be something he must be everything, and if he be not everything he is nothing to you.Charles Spurgeon, sermon #1006 Christ is All