In recounting Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain, Luke says that Jesus “told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:39-40).
Now, Jesus is great at giving word pictures, isn’t he? I know the words are familiar, but stop and actually think about what Jesus is saying here. Years ago, I saw a Richard Prior and Gene Wilder movie on television. One of them was blind and the other was deaf, and they had witnessed, in their own ways, a crime. One of the scenes I’ll never forget was them trying to get through a place and the blind guy was yelling at the deaf guy to stomp his feet when he walked so he could hear the sound and follow him. So, the deaf guy is stomping around and says, ‘I feel silly doing this!’ To which, the blind guy replies, ‘You look just fine to me!’ A comical picture for sure. Yet Jesus paints an even more absurd picture for us in these verses.
Imagine a blind man struggling to figure out where he’s going and he asks another man for help. That man is also blind but says, ‘Sure, I can help you!’ He gropes around until he finds the man hands and blindly sticks out his own hand, as he begins feeling around as they walk across the field. You know what’s going to happen—absolute disaster! They’re both going to fall into a pit. And this word pit isn’t like ‘ditch by the side of the road.’ Its means something more like ‘Grand Canyon’!
Now, what is Jesus getting at here? Simply this: be careful who you follow. On one level, Jesus is surely condemning the Pharisees here. They set themselves up as spiritual leaders but were really just blind guides (cf. Matt 23:16). But remember that Jesus’ words here are to his disciples. He’s not primarily taking shots at others. He’s directing his disciples to think about their own hearts and minds. Thus, here we’re being asked to evaluate who is influencing us. Who is leading us in how we live? Who is teaching us to think and feel about God and the world around us? This is really important for us, as Jesus explains: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (6:40). You and I are being molded into the image of the person or persons we follow. So, you must choose wisely who you follow. You must choose wisely who your teachers are.
Now, let me just take a minute and step on some toes, including my own. Let me take a page from the book Carnegie didn’t write: How to Lose Friends and Anger People. Broadly speaking, Christians in this country tend to be conservative when it comes to our political parties. And there is a whole industry now of conservative media outlets. Those things can be good and helpful. But the truth is that most of us would greatly benefit from turning off talk radio and the 24 hour news stations. Why would you say that, you ask? At least two reasons. First, those people are not reporting the news and they are not Christians. Yes, some of them claim to be; few more might actually be believers. But the truth is that most of them aren’t. They’re politically-driven in their commentary, and may or may not be reflecting a truly Christian response to the news of the day. Second—and this goes hand-in-hand with the first—most of these commentators are driven by anger and indignation. That’s what keeps up their ratings, but such a consistent tone can only be bad for our hearts. Jesus doesn’t want us mad and upset all the time. It’s not good for your blood pressure and it’s not good for your soul. Some of us, frankly, spend far more time during the week listening to the opinions of talking heads than we ever listen to what God says in his word. You’re being molded into someone’s image. Is it Rush Limbaugh’s? It is Glen Beck’s? Or is it Christ’s?
Jesus said ‘What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul?’ (Mark 8:36). We might also say, ‘What good does it do a man to gain political awareness but lose his intimacy with God?’ If you want to deal with your sin, if you want to grow in godliness, if you want to live like a disciple of Jesus Christ, then follow him. Follow Christ. Listen to him. Be around him and hear him through his Word, whether purely read or explained and applied through a variety of good preachers and teachers. The best saints, shepherds, teachers, and preachers will be the ones who point you, not to themselves, but to Christ. So, don’t be led by a blind guide. Be led by the one true Guide. Be taught by the master Teacher. Be shaped by the perfect Example of godliness. Reflect the glory of your Savior.