Blind Leading the Blind

Matthew 15:1-20
Then some Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to Jesus and said, “Why do your disciples disregard the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands when they eat.” But he answered them, “Why do you also disregard the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.’ But you say ‘Whoever tells his father or his mother, “Whatever support you might have received from me has been given to God,” does not have to honor his father.’

Because of your tradition, then, you have revoked the authority of God’s word. You hypocrites! How well did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is empty, because they teach human rules as doctrines.'”

Then he called to the crowd and said to them, “Listen and understand! It is not what goes into the mouth that makes a person unclean. It is what comes out of the mouth that makes a person unclean.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you realize that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them alone. They are blind guides of the blind. If one blind person leads another blind person, both will fall into a ditch.” Then Peter said to him, “Explain to us this parable.” Jesus said, “Are you still so ignorant? Don’t you know that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and then is expelled as waste? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is those things that make a person unclean. For it is out of the heart that evil thoughts come, as well as murder, adultery, sexual immorality, stealing, false testimony, and slander. These are the things that make a person unclean. But eating with unwashed hands doesn’t make a person unclean.”

Luke 6:39-42
He [Jesus] also told them a parable: “One blind person can’t lead another blind person, can he? Both will fall into a ditch, won’t they? A disciple is not better than his teacher. But everyone who is fully-trained will be like his teacher. “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you’ll see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
    • Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees as “the blind leading the blind” (Matthew 15:14) And he may have them in mind here in Luke as he admonishes his own disciples. If you follow the teachings of the spiritually blind Pharisees, then you’ll fall into the same traps as the Pharisees fell into.
    • Jesus uses hyperbole to take this common experience and push it to a humorous extreme. One person with a beam, plank, or timber in his eye is trying to see to remove a speck from someone else’s eye. “You hypocrite,” Jesus says, “first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Mt. 6:42b). If you don’t have sense, you won’t be able to understand this.
  • We’re in no position to help someone else get rid of sin in his own life. The reason we’re in no position to help is that we can’t see clearly. The Pharisees were the self-appointed correctors of everyone else in society. But though they scrupulously kept the letter of the oral interpretation of the Law, too often they missed the spirit or purpose of the Law. For a good example of hypocrisy, David’s reacted to Nathan’s story about a man who unjustly stole and killed another man’s lamb. David quickly condemned the man, but was blind to his own sin, which was far greater.

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