Scripture: Luke 6:39-49
We’re in Luke chapter 6, where Jesus continues teaching about the kingdom of God – how his kingdom is different from the world.
This morning we are going to look at 4 brief parables. Parables are word pictures and very often they were meant to be funny, almost like a first century meme. They won’t seem as funny to us, but in a time with no TV, internet, or photographs – this was comedy.
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?
Take a moment to imagine this – one blind man leading another blind man towards a pit. That’s the image of the meme. Now imagine this text written underneath – verse 40.
40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
Put the image together with that caption. Blind man leading a blind man towards a pit. The first blind man is the “teacher”. The second is his “disciple”.
It’s funny! It’s supposed to be funny because it is absurd. But there’s a simple message. Stop following the wrong people. Specifically for the crowds listening to Jesus, the message was stop following religious leaders who think they know where they are going but are blind to the kingdom of God.
And there’s a deeper question we might ask of ourselves. It’s a soul-searching question. Can I lead someone else where I have not been myself? Have I experienced the grace of God and the blessings of His kingdom? Would I even know it when I see it?
We need a guide. We need a teacher. Even a blind man can learn to avoid a pit with the help of a guide. But he can’t do it alone. And that’s what Jesus intends to teach us. Understanding the kingdom of God starts with recognizing that you cannot get there alone. We don’t even know where “there” is! And we don’t see the danger we are in.
To make it very simple – Jesus wants to challenge our false sense of direction. We think we know where we are going, but we don’t. Because apart from Him, we are lost.
41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
This is the second parable. Take a moment to imagine this one as well. You’re focused on a speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye, but you fail to notice the log in your own. That is the image of the meme, and it is also intended to be funny. Now let’s read the caption:
42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
This parable is very similar to the first. The issue is still a form of blindness, but Jesus digs a little deeper. The previous question was this, “Can I lead someone else where I have not been myself?” This is a new question, “Can I fix someone else when I can’t even fix myself?”
It’s a funny way of saying, “Look in the mirror! Look at yourself first!” We actually do spend a lot of time looking at the faults of other people. Why? Because it makes us feel better about ourselves.
But Jesus intends to challenge the false sense of pride that gives us. My biggest problem is not other people. It’s me. I’m my own worst enemy. But unless the Spirit holds up a mirror, I’ll never see it.
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,
44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
This is the third picture and again there is a note of humor. Imagine trying to pick grapes from a thornbush. But this is also getting more serious, because now Jesus has us all looking in the mirror.
And now that I’m looking in the mirror, what am I looking for? The answer is fruit. Do I see good fruit or bad fruit? Do I see a good person or a bad person?
But Jesus anticipates the common response to that question. Our natural instinct is to focus on behavior and make a better effort. I’ll try to replace the bad fruit with some good fruit. Problem solved right?
If we don’t like what we see in the mirror, we change clothes or we cover the blemishes with makeup. But that doesn’t work in this case. The fruit is evidence – not effort. It’s evidence of something we don’t have the power to change!
If I attach apples to a pine tree, it doesn’t make it an apple tree. That’s the image of the meme. Here’s the caption:
45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
In other words, look deeper than the surface. Jesus intends to challenge our false sense of righteousness. My problem is not that I sometimes make mistakes. My problem is a corrupted heart. I can’t change my own heart. I’m worse than I think I am. And so are you.
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
Notice, Jesus does not say “why do some of you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? He says it to the entire crowd.
In other words, Jesus says to the entire crowd, you’re worse than you think you are. You have a false sense of direction. You have a false sense of pride. You have a false sense of your own righteousness.
Exactly how bad are you? I’ll tell you! You’re the kind of people who honor me with your words but not with your actions. And it’s worthless. Your religion is worthless.
47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:
48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
This is the final parable and it’s not funny at all. It’s serious. It’s an example of one thing: wasted effort. Wasted effort and wasted resources.
What’s the point of this final parable?
So far, Jesus has challenged our false sense of direction, our false sense of pride, our false sense of righteousness, and now he challenges our false sense of security. That’s what this final story is about. Security.
If we refuse to obey Jesus, then we will have no safety from the coming storm. If you want security, then you better hear and do what Jesus commands.
Again, most people will hear this and automatically assume that Jesus is looking for better behavior. And you’ve missed the point.
Think more carefully about this parable. Two men building two houses. Both of them provided exactly the same amount of effort and from the outside each house looks the same.
What was the only difference between them? The foundation. The first man “dug deep” and laid his foundation on what? The rock.
In other words, the difference was not his effort at all! The difference was the rock upon which his effort was built!
What then is Jesus telling us to do? Repent and believe. Turn and trust. Trust in something outside of yourself – specifically, Him. His righteousness. His effort. His resources.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Jesus is presenting Himself as the Rock! He’s commanding us to stop wasting our efforts on self-discovery and self-righteousness. Those are worthless alternatives to the kingdom of God.
Think about those two alternatives – self-discovery and self-righteousness.
The first path says, “Be whoever you want to be!” The second path says, “Be what everyone else expects you to be!”
The first path says, “Be a free spirit!” The second path says, “Be a good citizen!”
And the world provides us with countless experts in these alternative lifestyles. Books, podcasts, videos – there’s an endless supply of content telling us how to have a better life.
Do this, not that. Eat this, not that. Buy this, not that. We spend our time, our efforts, and our money on the next big thing.
And Jesus says to us – all of it is wasted. It will fall to ruin. It will be swept away. Death comes for us all, and after that the judgment.
What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
Self-discovery and self-righteousness are both rooted in self-dependence.
None of it matters without Christ. You’re finished before you started.
Dig deep. Look in the mirror. What do you see?
Forget the prayer you prayed twenty years ago or the aisle you walked. Most often, even that was an act of self-dependence.
Are you – today – living in dependence on God? Are you seeking first His righteousness and His kingdom? Is your house built upon the Rock?
Jesus wants us to have the kind of relationship with God that He has with the Father. Let’s pray together and ask for help.