June 20, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Luke 6:39-40.
And he told them a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.”
Jesus had just given his great lesson to his disciples about those who are blessed: the poor, the hungry, those in mourning, those who are hated because of him. And woe to those who are rich, filled, laughing, and flattered. He went on to tell them to love their enemies, turn the other cheek, give their cloak and tunic as well to one who asks, and to do to others as they would have them to do to them. He finished by telling them not to judge or condemn but to forgive. These are the hallmarks of the kingdom of God, which they were to help him establish.
He described for them what it meant to be his disciple, his expectations. These must have been lessons that Jesus taught his disciples over and over. These are contrary to what the world taught and what experience would have led them to conclude as to how to get ahead in the world. It was radical, extreme teaching.
Jesus frequently used the metaphor of blindness in his teachings and he used these short sayings or aphorisms to crystallize his points so they could be easily remembered and recalled. As Borg writes in Jesus in reference to the first verse here, “Aphorisms on the other hand express the fresh insight of a particular individual and often function to overturn or subvert conventional wisdom. They are surprising, arresting, and though-provoking….Their function is to bring about a radical perceptual shift.”
Jesus was preparing his disciples to carry on his mission, to be faithful in their teaching, when he is gone. First, they had to be his students; they had to acknowledge that his knowledge and wisdom were superior to their own. They were schooled in the ways of the world, the conventional way of thinking and doing. They had to go through his boot camp, to acknowledge him as Master and to submit to his authority. They had to have a new way of relating to people drilled into them.
I don’t typically learn something from one reading, hearing, or seeing it one time. It takes repetition, reflection, and sometimes memorization. Only then have I captured it and retained it in long-term memory for when I need it. That includes the word of God especially the gospels. Reading His word over and over and thinking about the application to my life becomes the foundation for my response to all the interactions I have with people everyday and the opinions I form about what’s going on in the world. It’s my training; Jesus is my teacher. Every day I become a little more like him. It’s particularly important for me to read the gospels because his message is so radical, so different from much of what I have learned during my life and so contrary to what the world is like.
Jesus is the only true teacher and no one is superior to him. For me to follow anyone else is like the blind following the blind — and I’ve done that from time to time in my life. I spent years looking for the right guru, the author or preacher or speaker who had all the answers. I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had studied under the one true teacher. All I had to do was study the gospels and try to get my head around his radical teaching. It’s taking me a long time, but I’m finally living as a disciple and my eyes are opening. I believe he’s preparing me to be a teacher once I’m fully trained.