Kingdom way

Reading Luke 6 this morning, I found it difficult to follow certain transitions in Jesus’ sermon (vv. 20–49). The appearance of the parable in verse 39 seems especially abrupt, and it’s not easy to trace the flow of thought through the next several sections. After some meditating, however, I think this may be the progression:

In the first part of the sermon, Jesus gives a description of life in God’s kingdom that’s hard to absorb by the world’s standards. His disciples couldn’t yet have put it in these terms, but essentially what He says is that the kingdom way is the way of the cross, and only the crucified will reign in this kingdom. You have to die to yourself and love your enemies, just as Jesus will shortly do at Calvary.

If you’re going to walk this kingdom way, you’d best make sure whom you’re following (v. 39), because if you follow a blind teacher you’ll end up in a pit, not on the high road of the kingdom.

Pretty obviously, the teacher to follow is Jesus (He’s the one teaching in this sermon, after all); and the great news is that if you follow Jesus, you’ll eventually become someone others can safely follow (v. 40).

However (and this is important), you don’t become a teacher by running around plucking specks out of the eyes of your brethren (vv. 41–42). The way of the kingdom is the way of humility, growing out of a sincere quest for personal repentance and holiness. There are too many would-be teachers; there are far too few who have sat at the feet of the true Master, seen themselves for what they really are, and repented. There are too many who are full of their own opinions, their own importance, their own wealth, their own sense of what they deserve, their own ideas about how others should behave: these people end up being blind leaders of the blind.

And it’s not as if you have to be particularly astute to figure out who’s who. The people who have repented and are really following Jesus in the kingdom way are going to bear good fruit (vv. 43–45); the others . . . just follow your nose to the rottenness. Lest we’re still unsure how to follow the clues, Jesus says to check what’s coming out of the various mouths in question: when you hear blessing out of the mouth of one being cursed, you know that person’s on the kingdom way (v. 28); when you hear lofty judgments, bitter condemning, and scorn being heaped on the poor, look around for a great big ditch.

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