Can the blind lead the blind?
Jesus has begun speaking to those who would call themselves his disciples in what is often called the sermon on the plain. He has contrasted the way of discipleship with the way of the rest of the world who do not wish to listen to Jesus. Living as though they live in the kingdom now enables them to put up with suffering now. Loving others is on the basis of how God has loved them rather than how the world loves them. He now continues in this section to teach us where we stand in reference to our fellow man. Are we on higher ground because we are a disciple of Jesus?
- 37-38 Judge like one being judged
- 39-40 Lead like one being lead
- 41-42 Rebuke like one rebuked
37-38 Judge like one being judged
The million dollar question in this section is: what is Jesus promising in return for obedience? For example, if we do not judge others, will we avoid the judgment of God? Again, if we do not condemn, are we pardoned from God’s condemnation? If we give, will we see prosperity from God poured down on us? Is this the prosperity gospel?
It is true that elsewhere we are told that if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). It does not follow that Luke 6:37-38 has a parallel instruction.
Another interpretation is that if we judge and condemn then we will attract the same from others. When we forgive and give, then we are likely to receive treatment in kind. This view pairs well with verses 32-35 which taught us to love and be merciful like God is otherwise we only behave on pair with our fellow man.
Jesus is calling us to be different in this world. The principle is that disciples of Jesus and children of God behave in this manner knowing that they fall under the judgement of God, his condemnation and rely on his forgiveness and grace.
This section is an interesting talking point on how to interpret scripture. Both views have merit but we need to look at context, and the rest of the bible’s teaching to help us land well. The following parable helps shed light on this section also.
39-40 Lead like one being lead
The image given by Jesus is straightforward and quite visual (pun intended). The instruction here is to only lead once you have been lead by God. He instructs us and we may then see to leading others as one who is already lead. But presume to know more than we do and we are just blind guides. Listen to Jesus and be a disciple. James 3:1 warns against rushing into leadership through teaching.
41-42 Rebuke like one rebuked
Removing specks from other’s eyes is not forbidden here as long as you are plank free. I take it that removing a plank from your eye is quite painful. We don’t help each other to grow buy nitpicking and seeing faults that need immediate attention in others. Our biggest concern is to live humbly and thankfully in the Lord.
Judge like one being judged; lead like one being lead; and rebuke like one rebuked. Of first importance to a Christian is there place in relation to God. We are under his judgment and condemnation. We are forgiven people who receive grace upon grace from our Father. All truth comes from Him and we are his students. The first person I know that needs rebuking is me. This is the context in which we relate to others. We may be able to rebuke a brother with the humility that comes from being rebuked ourselves. We may be able to lead others in the way of life if only we are able to be lead by the Teacher first.
Topic A: Judging or discerning. God is the judge of all and it is his to avenge the guilty. Discernment falls into a different category where we are instructed to watch out for false teaching and people who might lead us away from the Lord. While we don’t want to close the door of salvation to anybody, we remain alert to correct those who teach anything other than Christ crucified and risen as the basis of salvation.
Topic B: Being able to lead others. Jesus instructs us to be humble in all of our dealings with people. We recognise his supremacy and the great graciousness he has shown to call us and include us in his kingdom. That said, he calls on us to be ready to lead people into the kingdom of God. The trick is to do it with all humility and know that without Christ, we would know nothing of the way, the truth and the life.
Topic C: A recipe for rebuking. The following passages give some insights into rebuking one another. The ultimate source of rebuke must be the Lord, and we as his humble servants. Luke 17:3; 1 Timothy 5:1; 2 Timothy 3:1; 4:2; Titus 1:13; 2:15; Revelation 3:19.
Prayer for the week
Almighty God, we do not presume to judge alongside you, nor condemn others as less righteous than ourselves. By your grace and mercy, you have called us to live and to learn as disciples of Christ. Help us to humbly walk with you and to lead others to your Son as you have first lead us. Amen.