The passage begins by turning from Jesus who is a lamp that brings light to the issue of light and darkness within people. The condition of one’s eye determines whether one is full of light or darkness. Most translations refer to ‘a healthy eye’ or ‘a bad eye’. Literally it says, ‘a single eye’ or ‘an evil eye’. In these days a single eye meant a person whose inner self was not divided, sincere, free from guile, generous not corrupted, whereas an evil eye meant a person was divided in purpose, untrustworthy, stringy etc. Those full of light are the people who with a single purpose hear and obey Jesus’ words. Other religious systems that reject the light and truth that is Jesus, leave a person in darkness.
The second part of this passage describes those characterized by inner darkness – the Pharisees and the lawyers who draw attention to themselves. Their inner darkness is uncleanness, greed and wickedness. They tithe herbs but neglect justice to others. They love praise but are like unmarked tombs. Jesus declares that unlike those who are happy in hearing and guarding his words, those characterized by darkness will experience woe.
Luke 9 then is about disciples who align themselves with God’s purposes. This involves prayers that are confident in their knowing the Father will give the Holy Spirit. It also involves accepting the words spoken by Jesus that bring true happiness. In contrast, neutrality toward Jesus will result in a greater state of woe under the influence of evil spirits. To be unbelieving and demand signs is a characteristic of an evil generation. Jesus is the light, his wisdom greater than Solomon and his prophetic words greater than Jonah. Those who truly hear him are released from being mute and sing his praises.