by Pastor Mark Hudson
If you believe that Christ was sent from heaven to correct, judge, love, and reach the lost, wouldn’t you expect tension between the Messiah and a religion that had strayed and abandoned the faith? Tension is not always bad. The acrimony between our Lord and the religious leaders started in Luke 1:51ff when Mary praises God by stating that “He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.” Then in Luke 2:34ff, Simeon prophetic word tells Joseph and Mary about the divisiveness of Christ. John the Baptist warns the sleepy Jews, that they need to wake up and repent. No half-hearted response will do in 3:7ff. His first public reading of Scripture in 4:16ff resulting in the listeners trying to kill our Lord.
Jesus’ healings drew attention but especially when we healed on the Sabbath. And Jesus picked that day to heal to prove a point. He claimed to forgive sins in 5:20, He told the Pharisees that his disciples need not fast since something new was replacing their ruined system that had distorted.
Now in 6:1-5, Sabbath and eating grain heated up the Pharisees. But nothing like the healing of the man with a withered hand in 6:6-11. In verse 7, they were watching Him, wanting to catch Him breaking one of their rules. At the end of this healing, “they (the Pharisees) were filled with fury.” Imagine getting so angry because a human being’s right hand and arm were restored. This gives us insight into what many spiritual leaders had embraced. They were in the nadir of their spiritual decline and needed radical transformation.
Jesus is not merely giving us helpful teaching but exposing the false teachers, their alienating faith, and ushering in the holiness, grace, love, and truth of the eternal God. And as we witness in 6:12ff, He is beginning to form His church. We dare not minimize the importance of His body for as the Westminster Confession of Faith says in 25, “ II. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
Luke’s shortened beatitudes are not long but still disrupting. While we live in this world, our hearts and minds ought to be focused on the next. This is so contrary to the normal way we look at our lives. Most of us want a better car, a better home, a better job, etc. We see those objects (notice the seeing in this chapter and how often our seeing is distorted (v. 7, 41-42, compared to His looking in 6:10), yet we do not see what is so obvious to our Lord. We are too earth-bound, too blind to see what is truly important, and adamant that we don’t need to be corrected. What a pitiful state we can find ourselves in apart from the humility of Christ.
Jesus employed humor in his teaching. I find the section in vs. 39-42 entertaining if you think of it literally. We see what we want to see. We have an inherent blindness in our minds due to our sinfulness. Why have we trained ourselves to see other’s faults? Why are we this way? I could have easily learned to focus on myself. Why are we so defensive? In 41, Jesus asks a question. Why so you see the speck . . . but do not notice the log? Then He asks, “How can you say to your brother . . . when you yourself (notice the emphasis) do not see the log . . . .” I suspect we have not given that question much thought.
Jesus does not mince words when he calls us “hypocrites” who act that way. That is a harshness we need to hear. What the person in vs. 41-42 is doing is sinful, dishonest, and hypocritical. Do you do that? Are you correcting others for minor things while ignoring your glaring issues? I would hazard a guess that if you do, you are unaware of it. You don’t even know you are doing it. That is a double blindness. Or maybe the person that does that, doesn’t care what others think.
Ironically, the desire to get the speck out of a brother’s eye is not a bad desire. It is, however, deplorable when you have a log in your own eye. Does this imply that a person who removes the log in his eye is scrupulous in terms of his/her own sins? Is this person meticulous and thorough in repenting of their own sins, confessing, and then turning away from those sins? That kind of person, knowing how hard it is to live a holy life, how difficult it is to root out sin, would be a tenderhearted person pointing out someone else’s foibles.
It is hard to admit you can’t hear if you are hearing impaired. It is hard to admit you need glasses or later bifocals. It can be hard to admit you can’t do certain things. It is also hard to admit to a sin that is almost part of who you are – especially when you have tried to rid yourself of this sin. We get discouraged when we keep going back to a sin, we know is wrong. So instead of the hard, laborious, particular work I need to engage in to get rid of my sin, wouldn’t it be easier to focus on someone else? When I do that, I lose all the compassion, tenderness, and concern I would have if I had spent myself in my own struggle against sin. Then my pointing out of someone else’s sin comes out fleshly which it really is.
Dear loving, heavenly Father, You know all our sinful tendencies, practices, and thoughts. We can think and act in such ungodly ways. But we long to be more like Your Son Jesus Christ, Who never committed one sin. Remove from us the blindness we protect and cling to. Rebuke our many sinful ways so that we can walk in the freedom only You offer. In the sinless name of our Lord Jesus, Amen.