Trinity 4, 2016

 

The Epistle. Romans 8:18-23

The Gospel.  St. Luke 6:36-42

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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In our Gospel lesson today, it would seem that we could summarize it in a few words…or one sentence.  God’s character is the guide for our character.”[1] 

 

Jesus so many times used Himself, or the Father as the guide, the rule, the measure we are to use to guide us in shaping our own character, personality, desires, loves, hates, interests etc.

 

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul says that we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ from glory go glory.

He tells us in Philippians 2 that we are to have the same attitude in ourselves as was in Christ.  Humility of mind.  Putting others ahead of ourselves.

 

In John 13, Jesus says, If I, your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you ought also to wash one anther’s feet.  Setting an example to follow.

 

Paul again, in Ephesians 4 says, we are to be kind to one anther, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us.

 

And there are many others.

 

Jesus was of course sinless and lived every moment aiming to please the Father.  God the Father is perfect in all His ways. 

 

His character is perfect and is the standard by which we are to measure ourselves.  

 

We on the other hand will never be perfect this side of eternity.  Even in Heaven, our perfection will be limited in that we will never possess the perfections God does, or the attributes God possesses in the same way, or else we would be equal to God.

 

We will be perfected in our humanity as we were originally created to be.

 

But while we are here on earth, and still on the Pilgrimage to the Heavenly City, we must direct our attention to the here and now.  Not losing sight of the place that awaits us…but knowing our position here and now and striving to be pleasing to the Father as Christ was. 

 

This is why Jesus today tells us, Be merciful as your Father is merciful.  That is our standard.

 

Do not judge others in a way that will bring a charge of hypocrisy down on you. 

 

Judge rightly, and fairly, and always in such a way, as you would have God judge you.

 

For with the judgment you pronounceyou will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”[2]

 

“What is commanded is an attitude that is hesitant to condemn and quick to forgive.”[3]  Remember that God will treat us, as we treat one another.

 

This should make us pause before we cast judgment upon anyone.  How would I want God to treat me if I were to offend in this way?  How does He treat me now that I am an offender?

 

Paul warns us of this very same thing when he says, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother?

Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

   “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,

and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”[4]

Jesus tells us that we are to forgive and we will be forgiven.  Since we have been forgiven in Christ, we enjoy that benefit. 

But we are to go on forgiving others, just as Christ goes on forgiving us.  

We come into this place week after week.  We say the General Confession.

We say things like, “We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness.”

 

We say, “We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings.”

We claim that, “The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable.” 

Are our sins grievous unto us, truly? 

Is the burden of them, the constant remembering of them, the fact that we have offended both God and neighbor…is that burden intolerable to us?  Or have we learned to bear it with no remorse or fear??

Then we ask, “Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father.  A double petition, just as we see in the Bible.  Truly, truly I say to you. 

We say, Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most Merciful Father. 

Saying it twice means to God at least (and it should mean to us) that we are really and truly sorry for our sins and offences.

Then there is the final petition, “Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honor and glory of Thy Name.

Forgive us, and help us to serve and please you or LORD God, so that your Name may be honored and glorified.

So Jesus telling us the same thing….forgive and you will be forgiven, is to treat neighbor with charity and to honor God and the bring glory to Him.  To bring glory to His Name.

God is Holy.  Hallowed be His Name.  That is our petition in the Lord’s Prayer.  That is what we are created for.  To bring glory to God.

Jesus then moves to what are technically categorized as Parables.  They are sort of proverb-like.  He asks, “Can a blind man lead a blind man?  Will they not both fall into a pit?”

This is the logical conclusion to what has been said thus far.  First the obvious. 

The blind man is unable to see…to navigate well enough.  So him leading another blind man will cause them both to fall into the pit… or in some way both will suffer the same consequences.

 

Now, just a few verse before today’s section of the Gospel, Luke says, “And he [Jesus] lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said…” (Luke 6:20 ESV)

 

So in the context of what’s happening, Jesus is speaking to His Disciples.  This is not to everyone. 

 

Church Father Cyril of Alexandria, helps us in this by explaining that this is a message from Jesus to His Disciples and here is why….

 

“This parable he added as a most necessary attachment to what had been said. [Referring to earlier teaching]

 

The blessed disciples were about to be the initiators and teachers of the world. It was necessary for them therefore to prove themselves possessed of everything piety requires. They must know the pathway of the evangelic mode of life and be workmen ready for every good work. They must be able to bestow upon well-instructed hearers such correct and saving teaching as exactly represents the truth. This they must do, as having already first received their sight and a mind illuminated with the divine light, lest they should be blind leaders of the blind. It is not possible for those enveloped in the darkness of ignorance to guide those who are afflicted in the same way into the knowledge of the truth. Should they attempt it, they will both roll into the ditch of carelessness.”[5]

 

So today’s message is first, to the Disciples.  They were to be blameless, upright teachers and examples of the character of Christ.

They were to be the heralds of Christ’s Gospel.

 

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

 

If they weren’t they would be seen as hypocrites. 

They would be seen as worthless teachers.

They would be ineffective in leading others to Christ.  Ultimately, they would be only as good as a blind guide….who in guiding will lead others who are blind into a common pit.

 

But of course, the Church has seen to it through our lectionary cycle that this passage is not useful to only Church leaders, pastors and people in authority.

 

This is instruction for all of us.

We are all to leave here with this instruction because we are ambassadors for Christ…representatives of Christ to the world.

How we conduct ourselves tells others who we are, who we belong to, and what we believe is important.

Again, “God’s character is the guide for our character.” 

 

Commentator Darrell Bock says: “The picture is laid out in two steps. First, Jesus makes the general point that a pupil is not greater than (ὑĻέρ, hyper) the teacher. In the ancient world, the teacher-pupil relationship was a personal one, since one learned by oral instruction rather than by books, which were not readily available. One virtually lived alongside the teacher. In addition, these teachers were followed, because they were regarded as authorities.  One chose not simply to get information or to challenge the teaching, but to follow a teacher by adopting the teaching. Thus, and here is the second step, the disciple becomes like the teacher, because of the nature of the teacher-pupil relationship.”[6]

And that is what Jesus is getting at here today.  We have a teacher-pupil relationship in a similar way.

 

We have a sinner-Savior relationship.

We have a sheep-Shepherd relationship.

We have a disciple-Master relationship.

All with Christ, the Son of God.

 

So in imitating Him in ways that we can, and following His teaching, we develop a Christ-like character.

 

Jesus ends today with another reference to sight as he did earlier with the blind leading the blind.  He returns to Christ-like behavior, avoiding hypocrisy.  Looking to Christ for a standard of behavior.

 

He shifts to a new “sight” metaphor.  The speck and the beam.

 

 

The speck here is a small chip or flake of wood, chaff or straw.  The beam is the main beam of a building.  This helps with the contrast.

 

And His message here is very straight forward and simple.  I think we all here understand what He is getting at.

 

We should be self-critical before we are critical of others.  We should first be concerned with our own faults, problems, shortcomings before we criticize our neighbor about his.

 

The asking here is quite telling and we don't fully grasp it in English.  Jesus asks, “How can you say to your brother, brother let me take 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.”  (Luke 6:36-42 ESV)

 

He is saying, “What nerve you have!”  The hypocrite here is a play-actor, who is in sincere and fails to deal with his own shortcomings and offences. 

 

He is saying that when we do this, we are pretending that we are offended at someone else while we are ignoring our own faults.

 

This teaching today is designed to make us uncomfortable. 

It is designed to get us to consider ourselves more frequently and more seriously.

And yet knowing our efforts will never be perfect, we have nowhere to turn in this matter than to Jesus Christ….for grace.

 

We suffer in this present time, as Paul says today.  And this is just one way. We suffer over our own failure at being Christ-like and walking as we should.

 

 

But, we can close with this word of hope from Paul and his words from Romans today.

 

These are words that we all can say and perhaps they will be a reminder to us of how much we need the grace of God.

 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…..For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:18-23 ESV)

 

So we must strive as we wait.  Our redemption draws ever nearer each moment we live. 

 

 

Let us in this time pray and work diligently to be conformed to the image of Christ, so that upon His return He will find us learning from Christ’s words today and relying solely on His grace for both our growth and our final redemption.

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

 



[1] Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke: 1:1–9:50 (Vol. 1, p. 604). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 7:2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke: 1:1–9:50 (Vol. 1, p. 605). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 14:10–12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 112). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke: 1:1–9:50 (Vol. 1, p. 612). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.