Luke 6:39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
Luke 6:43 “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. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
There is so much to say about these verses! However, in this article I am focusing on our organization’s program – The Institute for G.O.D. Int’l – our post-secondary educational institution offering opportunities for study in Biblical Studies and Missiology. It is within that context that I want to take a look at the above verses.
Verse 40 is a statement about the disciples’ journey in education, not that they should go beyond the teacher, but that they should ‘be like the teacher.’ Before we interpret that particular statement, it’s important to allow the co-text to inform our interpretation.
Jesus starts with asking a question and giving an answer, which the narrator informs us, is a parable. A parable is a device Jesus used to say something that had a moral lesson attached to it. In this case, the question makes the listener picture a blind person attempting to give guidance to another blind person, and the answer states that their joint fate is ending up in a ditch.
After our statement of focus (vs. 40), Jesus transitions into a speech about the moral responsibility that one has with their neighbor to ensure a) that they are able to see the world clearly, but also b) that they are able to show their neighbor those realities free of hypocrisy. In his illustration, a friend assists a friend in seeing clearly by joining them in the removal of those obstacles that prevent them from seeing accurately. Only after they’ve gone through a process of self evaluation does this process increase their accuracy in counsel.
Finally, Jesus gives a series of wisdom statements based on observing nature. He shows us that there are good people and bad people, likened to varieties of fruit trees, and that both will be easily detected by the kind of fruit they produce. The analogy of fruit is likened to the things they have to say, which they will share with others, for he teaches that our speech content will be a result of what is in our heart.
Having now established an interpretive position on the texts, let’s move on to application.
Jesus’ critique on society is that the teachers of his day are blind to the moral issues that affect the important social order of their communities. His statement helps to frame the reality that people are products of the teachings of their day. He also shows us that the result of any teaching is foreshadowed in the person of the teacher. If your teacher is blind, you will be too.
Focusing then on the moral responsibility of a teacher to assist another in having the kind of vision which is of benefit to their ‘brother,’ Jesus teaches that self-evaluation leads to a more effective position of teaching as to “see clearly” and remove the speck from the eye of the brother. The teachers of his day were blind and therefore incapable of self-evaluation (leading to hypocrisy). In turn, they were incapable of offering a beneficial education that gives people the kind of sight necessary to take moral positions in the world that would lead to societal health.
In this case, it seems that the most effective education would lead to persons being able to effectively illuminate their communities, not from a position of superiority, but from a position of compassion and understanding, having self-evaluated, removing the hypocrisy that would prevent them from addressing the moral issues that affect families, communities and nations. This self-evaluation, of course, wouldn’t come without a curriculum. It is Jesus who is introducing the concept, and in that case, he’s lobbying for the position of authority. If others accept, he would then teach them to develop character that enables them to do the effective work of education.
So, it would make sense that the next section’s coded speech involves a discussion about morality – good and bad – but not in general: in specific, good and bad people. Jesus was concerned with the character development of his disciples because he knew it would be the qualitative difference in their effectiveness as educators into the future.
He speaks of the ‘treasure’ that one has in their heart; if it’s good, then good things will come forth out of the mouth, if it’s bad, then bad things. We are then made to pay attention to the ‘heart’ condition of the teacher who will speak words out of their mouths that will either be good or bad, depending on the ‘treasure.’ The treasure then, would be the values that they possess as human beings, because these treasured values would indicate the moral quality of the person who embodies the position of teacher. By evaluating the values of the teacher, the student will know what kind of educator they will become – what kind of fruit they will be.
Now, back to Jesus’ statement in v. 40, “but everyone who is qualified will be like the teacher.” Jesus proffers that there are qualifications necessary for students to meet prior to being in a position to teach. These qualifications are embodied in the person of the teacher themselves. This is demonstrated in the values the teacher possesses as characterized by their own living. The character the educator embodies becomes the question of concern. What position does the teacher choose to speak from, a position of judgment or from the humility of the human experience? Does the teacher help their students to see themselves, and in turn the world around them, making consideration for what’s good and what isn’t? The student then knows that the end of their education will result in ‘being like’ the teacher who speaks the words out of their heart to them, sharing the values, the sight, of the one who teaches them.
We have a saying at the Institute: “we are more than a school.” This statement is related to Jesus’ teaching above, in that we are not just passing on information, but we are training people to live out the education they’ve acquired and embody the possibility of goodness that comes as a result of having your eyes opened by the word of God. We are hoping to qualify people for the great position of teaching these most treasured words of God to a world that seems to be heading for a ditch. We are equipping them to be like Jesus and pass on the moral values that God gives to humanity so they can experience life, health and peace.
We want our students to speak from a position of humility, but still hold a moral position regarding how people should see the world with regards to what is good and bad, right and wrong. We want our students to possess the kind of character that could be subject to criticism, but overcome it through transparency because they don’t have to formulate institutional systems that blind people to what characters are actually teaching them. We are involved in the great task of character development.
This is the educational work of God – teaching students to embody the character of the greatest teacher of all time – Jesus. Definitely, more than a school...