Jesus was a story-teller. Yes, Jesus was a preacher, a prophet, and a proclaimer of eternity’s most important announcements, but He shared stories and illustrations to make His point.
He was a master-communicator! In His agrarian culture, He often used relevant object lessons easily understood by His audience. He didn’t drone on about dusty-dry dogma. He talked about sheep, vineyards, planting and harvesting. He referenced the rich and the poor, weddings and wars. By using object lessons and telling stories, Jesus captured the attention of the crowds, and introduced ideas of important theological truth while heralding His coming kingdom.
The stories that Jesus told are often called parables, simple stories used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. In the next few days, let’s look at some favorites.
Let’s start with a short parable... “He also told them a parable: ‘... 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? 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.’ ” (Luke 6:39-42, ESV)
Here Jesus uses hyperbole, an exaggerated statement not meant to be taken literally. It’s funny when you imagine the scene. It’s a little like His declaration, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24, ESV). Ridiculous. Comical. Hyperbolic.
Here’s the story. Bubba and Jim Bob are working together in a dusty field. Bubba gets some dust in his eye and Jim Bob gets a fence post stuck in his. Do you see Jim Bob, impaled by a post, helping Bubba get a small grain of sand out of his eye? “Let me help! Hold still. Don’t blink!”
So, what’s the lesson that Jesus is teaching? Let’s read the parable in context, that is, read the Scripture passages before and after to find clues concerning Jesus’ intended purpose.
Earlier in the chapter, Luke reports that Jesus was facing opposition from the hyper-religious, hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees. No doubt, Jesus knew they were listening. But in verse 37 Jesus spoke to everyone in the crowd, not just the religious elite. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37, ESV). So Jesus was saying, “Jim Bob, don’t condemn Bubba for the dust in his eye. Don’t be hypocritically judgmental! You’ve got problems too! Consider the log in your eye before you focus on the dust in your buddy’s eye.”
(Side note: Jesus is not teaching against discernment and wise judgment. See verses 43-45, where Jesus clearly gives His followers license to be fruit inspectors.)
Again, in context, in verse 39 Jesus said, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Luke 6:39, ESV). Jesus seems to be saying, “Jim Bob, if you want to be a good leader, a good mentor, a good friend, then make sure you can see clearly to lead in the right direction. Get the fence post out of your eye. Then you’ll be able to help Bubba.”
Verse 40 gives us a final clue to understanding the parable. Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40, ESV).
So, here’s what I take away...
Neither Jim Bob nor Bubba wants to fall into the pit, and each wants their friend to find the right path too! So, like these boys, we must seek God’s grace in getting the log out of our eye ... we must not be hypocritically judgmental and critical of others, but rather we are called to encourage others to be like the Teacher, like Jesus!