1. Memorize verse 37a. What is an example of judging? Why should we not judge?
2. Verse 37b says, "Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned." How is this injunction related to "Do not judge"? What is an example of condemning? Why should we not condemn?
3.Verse 37c reads, "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Compare the command in verse 37c with 37a and 37b. Do they have anything in common? How is the command in verse 37c different from the others (37a,b)?
4.Read verse 38 aloud. Compare the message this verse conveys with the message in verse 37. How are they related to one another? What does this comparison indicate about the purpose Jesus had in mind in giving us his words in verses 37 and 38?
5. Compare the two questions in verse 39 with the limitation and vision a student has in verse 40. What do you think Jesus means by "a blind man" leading "a blind man"? Whom does Jesus refer to by: 1) "a student"; and 2) "a teacher"?
6.Think about the two questions Jesus asks in verses 41 and 42. What does this passage teach us about: 1) the way to overcome one’s blindness; and 2) the way to be a good student who is "like his teacher"?
A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
In the passage for today Jesus continues to teach his disciples that under their leadership all kinds of people with all different problems would find sufficient opportunities to overcome their problems, grow as mature children of God, and enjoy all the blessings God has in mind.
We would like to think about Jesus' teachings in two parts: first the importance of making a spiritual environment, and second the importance of receiving spiritual training in the Lord. The environment refers to the physical and spiritual conditions of a fellowship in which people can fully fulfill their full potential. The training concerns the discipline which the people coming to that environment must receive for their spiritual growth. But first things first: the environment must be there first, and then the training of the members can begin. And for the spiritual growth of all the members of the church, both the good environment and a good training program are absolutely necessary.
When we study the Bible we quickly realize that God is the God of environment. In order to ensure that his creatures grow fully the Lord God makes a good environment. Without a good environment no creature can grow properly. For example, in order for us to not only survive but grow strong, and become prosperous, the Lord God has made all kinds of preparations. The sun is one, the moon is another, and the good earth is still another. Imagine that there was no sun. What would happen to us? What would happen to all the fish in the Pacific Ocean or all the trees or the green grass at the Downey Bible center?
In the same way, in order for his children to grow up spiritually, he made not only a good physical environment, but also a good spiritual environment. Nowadays the daily bread words are coming from the book of Exodus. The work of God described in the book of Exodus indicates that the Lord God orchestrated the events so as to create a good spiritual environment for the spiritual birth of a spiritual nation; Israel. For this purpose, the Israelites had to come out of Egypt. Then at Mt. Sinai, the Lord God gave them spiritual principles of life: Moses’ 10 Commandments. Thereafter, through the spiritual leadership of Joshua, the Lord God cleared the land of Canaan of the idol worship. By the time King David came to power, through David the Lord God united the twelve tribes of Israel, and organized them to be a spiritual nation where spiritual leaders such as priests and Levites would serve people to worship the Lord in an organized manner. Then King Solomon came, and built the Lord's temple, where the Israelites could worship the Lord in spirit and truth.
The Lord's work of environment-making continues from generation to generation. Thus far in Luke’s gospel chapters 4-6 Luke described Jesus coming to the land of Israel, gathering people, and preaching the word of God. Along with his teaching ministry, Jesus also performed miracles, healing many. Jesus' teaching and healing ministry were designed to prepare an environment in which people would come to know God and grow as his children.
Then knowing that sooner or later he had to depart from this mundane world, Jesus called several disciples. In Luke 6:12-16, Jesus went to a mountainside, prayed the whole night, and the next morning he called the disciples to him, the twelve of them, designating them as apostles, which means "the ones sent by God" [to the people of this world.]
In Luke 6:20, then, looking at the disciples Jesus began to teach them how they should serve the flock of God. In the passage for today then, Jesus teaches them how they must make a good environment – not any environment but a good spiritual environment in which people with all kinds of problems can come, flock together, have fellowship with one another, and thereby grow fully to the full measure of God's greatness.
How then should they make the environment good? Here is the way: Look at verses 37-38. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." We can divide this passage in two parts: the first part is what the disciples must positively avoid, and the second is what the disciples must positively do.
There are two things which the disciples should never do: judging and condemning.
(1) Judging and condemning
To say the conclusion first, the spirit of judgment and the spirit of condemnation are two powerful enemies of a Christian fellowship. These spirits are particularly harmful to those who are spiritually young.
On March 29th, I became a grandfather. It was a wonderful experience. But as a grandfather, I had to be careful to make a good environment for my granddaughter. I learned this firsthand as I tried to hold the baby at the hospital. At the hospital, as I tried to hold the baby, my wife said, “No! Go to the bathroom, and wash your hands first." I joyfully complied. I went to the bathroom, thoroughly washed my hands and then held the baby.
This episode also made me think that just as germs can hurt a new born baby, so also the spiritual germs such as a judgmental spirit, can destroy the environment in which members of the church with all kinds of weaknesses, character flaws, and sin problems, should be nurtured and built up.
With this in mind, and with a trembling heart, let us all read verse 37a. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” Let us stop for a moment and think about how judging or condemning would hurt the fellowship.
First Jesus says, “Do not judge.” Why not? In order not to be judged. But if we judge, we will be judged, not only by God, but by the one whom we judge. Suppose we have two persons in the fellowship – Mr. Betterman and Mr. Worseman. Mr. Betterman may think that he is better than Mr. Worseman. So he feels like judging Mr. Worseman on one point or another. But Jesus says, “Do not judge.” But still he feels like judging. So there he goes – Mr. Betterman judging Mr. Worseman. Then what will happen? As soon as Mr. Betterman judges Mr. Worseman, Mr. Worseman will automatically judge Mr. Betterman, calling him Mr. Worstman. What then will be the net effect of this kind of mutual judgment? The answer is obvious: the breaking of the fellowship: the fellowship between the two is going to be broken, which defeats the purpose for which God sent Jesus, that is, to be the peacemaker.
We can find a good example in what Moses did. In Exodus 2, we see Moses operating with a judgmental spirit, and thereby suffering from a broken relationship with his fellow brothers for 40 long years. Let us open the Bible and read Exodus 2:13-14, to see how this happened: "The next day [Moses] went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, "Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?" The man said, "Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and thought, "What I did must have become known." In our day to day life, we can find a million different examples like this. But the point remains the same: a judgmental spirit is a formidable enemy of a Christian fellowship. It is the No. 1 destroyer of a spiritual environment.
The next germ we must avoid [bringing into the fellowship] is the spirit of condemnation. A judgmental spirit comes from a man who plays the role of a judge. He puts himself above his fellow citizens. The spirit of condemnation is related to the spirit of judgment, because as one sits in the position of a judge, most likely he is going to condemn those who come to the fellowship with him. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. This command again teaches us that if Mr. Alwaysright condemns Mr. Notsobad, Mr. Notsobad will condemn Mr. Alwaysright saying, “You are terrible to be around. You are the worst person in the whole world” and as they mutually condemn each other, the two will feel terrible, so in between the two, the kingdom of hell, rather than the kingdom of God will grow.
We can find a good example of this broken relationship in the story of Job and his three friends. Remember what happened to Job. One day, all of a sudden, one disaster after another hit a man named Job. On hearing the news, Job's three friends visited him to comfort him. But in the course of conversing with him, they subtly suggested that Job should repent of certain sins which were hidden. Their logic was that God hit Job not without a reason: that is, to purge Job of some secret sins he committed. Of course, Job is not perfect. After all no one but Jesus Christ is perfect. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So technically Job's three friends were correct in suggesting that Job was a sinner. But, the problem is that due to their condemning spirit, the fellowship between Job and his so-called three 'friends' was broken. Thus Job 32:3 says, "He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him."
The judgmental spirit and condemning spirit are in direct contradiction to the purpose for which God sent Jesus. Why did God send Jesus? God sent Jesus to take away the sins of the world. God sent Jesus so that the condemnation that should have fallen on us, would fall on Jesus, and thus, those who believe in the saving grace of Jesus, would no longer be condemned for their sins.
In addition, the spirit of judgment and the spirit of condemnation defeat the very purpose for which Jesus called his disciples. Why did Jesus call his disciples? Jesus called them to preach the gospel of the forgiveness of sins. Jesus did not call the disciples to play judges over their flock and condemn people coming to their church fellowship. God sent them to share the good news of great joy. So, a man who has a judgmental and condemning spirit is in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit whom God sent to set all believers free from guilt and shame.
(2) Forgiving and giving
While a disciple must work to remove the elements that destroy the good environment for good fellowship, he also must work diligently to invite into the fellowship two powerful components which foster the relationship between fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Look at verse 37b-38. "Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Let us think about the command to forgive. The command "forgive" has one thing in common with the negative commands, "Do not judge" and "Do not condemn", for like the command to not judge, and the command to not condemn, the command to forgive is also based on one cardinal truth: all are sinners. You are a sinner, and I am a sinner. It has been said that there are two kinds of sinners: forgiven sinners, and unforgiven sinners. So, all are the same in that they are all sinners.
However, here is an interesting point for us to consider: in my opinion, we can categorize forgiven sinners into two categories - forgiving sinners and unforgiving sinners. Jesus says to unforgiving sinners to forgive others who sin against them. Otherwise, not even God is going to forgive them of their own sins, especially their unforgiving spirit.
So, to just not judge or condemn is not enough. We may keep our mouth shut, saying nothing good or bad about others, but in our hearts, we may still hold grudges or gnash our teeth against others, for the wrongs they have committed against us. When this unforgiving spirit persists in one’s heart, and as he goes around in the fellowship with others, others quickly sense this spirit working inside of him, so people start avoiding that person, and in this way the relationship remains broken. You avoid your brother, and your brother also avoids you. When he comes this way, you go the other way. But Jesus says that we must stop doing this. We must positively forgive others.
Then, Jesus says, "Give." Why? It will be given to you, and the return is far greater than the amount we give.
Let us step back and then think about the four commands: two negatives and two positives. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and much more will be given. These four commands, then, work together, to build a powerful environment in which God's blessings can overflow among all who are in the fellowship. The four commands then are the golden framework for the kingdom of God growing powerfully among all who are in the Lord. When we do not practice these precepts, and go against them, only the kingdom of hell will grow. When we deny ourselves, and practice them, the kingdom of God will prosper. The kingdom of God will grow up without a limit, to the blessings of all who come to the fellowship.
The kingdom of God consists of an environment and its residents. Having secured an environment in which fellowship can thrive in a meaningful, loving, and mutually encouraging way, the next component that must be secured for the kingdom to grow with lasting success in each person is the need for each fellowship member to receive divine discipline (or simply training).
The idea here is that ultimately the sum total of the goodness found in one fellowship or another in the Lord equals the goodness of each individual all added up. In this equation, you are either a minus factor or a plus factor. The more people are on a plus side, the healthier and stronger the fellowship will be, and of course the opposite side of the coin is also true. And this equation works with mathematic precision.
Of course we know that Christian fellowship is not exactly a country club. It is a hodge-podge of all kinds of sinners. But this does not mean that you can remain retardant in your spiritual growth. If you do not struggle to grow and become a positive factor to your fellow brothers in the Lord, you will end up eating up others' hearts continually, and thereby operate as a pull-down factor. You operate as a damper, dampening the Spirit of God working among the fellow Christians. What then should each of us do? How can we grow up, so we would all be a source of blessing to others? In view of the remaining Bible passages, we can say that daily we must struggle to do three things:
(1) Learn from Jesus
Look at verse 39. "He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?" In this passage by a blind man, Jesus means the one who does not know the way to God's kingdom. From a spiritual standpoint, a blind man leading a blind man to a pit collectively describes all who do not know Jesus and yet try to lead people somewhere. One may find this interpretation as too narrow. But this is exactly what the Apostle John says, for in John 6:46 he says, "No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father." John 14:6 also says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” These verses especially the phrase “except through me” tells us that Jesus is the only way to God. This means that anyone who does not know Jesus personally and yet tries to lead people to salvation will necessary lead their followers to a pit. There is no exception at all.
Practically, however, knowing Jesus and learning from him is not as easy as it seems. Of all the subjects we should learn, Jesus is the greatest and noblest subject to learn. Like any other subjects like tennis or soccer, securing knowledge of Jesus requires lots of training. And training requires full commitment on the part of the trainee – commitment of time, energy, mind, and heart. Lately Shepherd Jay Irwin said, “Missionary Isaac. I want to receive missionary training. Can you give me missionary training?” The first thing I said to him was, “Fine. But first quit your job.”Then he quit his job. Now I am in a better position to train him. To some people, in order to learn from Jesus, they need to study hard, develop a solid career, and learn how to pay the bills, not just forhim, but for his wife (if he gets married), and not just for his wife, but his children, not one or two, but even seven and more. Again, the bottom line is this: knowing Jesus is a “full time venture.” And in order to learn of Jesus, we need to deny ourselves daily and commit ourselves fully to him.
Look at verse 40. "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." In John 13:13, Jesus is direct on this point: "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am." Matthew 23:9-10 is even dogmatic on this point, because there Matthew quotes Jesus as saying, "And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ." These Bible verses help us understand what Jesus says in verse 40 better. “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Here by a student Jesus means a disciple, and by a teacher Jesus refers to himself. And it sets forth a limit of each disciple as a student and a vision for a disciple to be like the teacher. The limit is that no matter how much we learned from Jesus, we have still more to learn from Jesus, and therefore we cannot outgrow the full measure of Jesus' greatness, because Jesus Christ is infinitely great. Yet, if we are fully trained, we will be "like" Jesus Christ. What a daring vision is it!?
"A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." This passage must have caused goose bumps to break out on his disciples, especially Simon Peter. Simon Peter was one of the country hill billies. He was not smart, nor intelligent. He was slow in learning. Like many of us he was just a typical, Mr. Nobody, a man as insignificant as a grain of sand on the seashore. Yet, after receiving full training from Jesus, he rose way above the level of all the other Joe Shmoes. He became so famous that even the late Pope John Paul tried to identify himself as a successor of St. Peter. The same is true with a man named Paul. Unlike Peter, he was a very smart, intelligent, and highly educated person. His resume was packed with achievement after achievement. But since he did not know Jesus in person, it turned out that he was a small demon enslaved by all kinds of petty desires, especially a covetous desire. Then, caught up by the demonic spirit, he rendered himself as a wounding machine. But, in God's mercy, the risen Jesus gave him a healing touch. Upon opening his spiritual eyes on the greatness of Jesus Christ, he came to realization that compared with the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ, all the knowledge he had accumulated as valuable is nothing but sheer garbage. Then each and every day he struggled to know Jesus Christ, as he testifiedin Philippians 3:10-11, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." His sincere desire to know Christ and imitate from Jesus paid off. The Lord established him as one of the most fruitful Christians history has ever known. From this we learn that daily we must struggle to know Jesus personally. Then, it is not just Peter or Paul but also each of us who can grow up into the fullness of Jesus' greatness.
(2) Teach yourself first
As we know very well, God's purpose for each of us is universal. So, as we grow up, the Lord wants us to feed sheep. But in feeding sheep, there is one thing we need to be careful about. Look at verses 41-42. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Here Jesus is being painfully humorous. His rebuke is painfully truthful, for he calls each of his disciples a hypocrite. Who is a hypocrite?It is none other than a person, who has a plank in his own eye and yet fails to see it as a problem, and still looks at the speck of sawdust in his brothers' eye, and tries to pull it out. A plank is something like a 2x4. It is so big that you cannot miss it.However, sawdust is so fine that it is hard to recognize. Yet, this man fails to see the 2x4 stuck in his own eye, and yet tries to pull out the tiny piece of sawdust inbrother's eye! What a hypocrite. But this is what we do on so many occasions. The message for us then is that daily we must first teach ourselves, so we would thoroughly repent of our own sins, and thereby pull out the plank from our own eye.
(3) Serve others in humility
Then we can go out and serve others in all humility.
In conclusion, let us read verse 40 once again. "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." In this passage we learned two things: the significance of making a spiritual environment, and the importance for us to learn of Jesus and struggle to grow up. As we secure these two points, naturally, all who come to the fellowship with us can fully grow towards the greatness of our Lord Jesus and be a source of blessing to all peoples on earth.
A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
In this passage Jesus further teaches the ways of God in which a disciple of Jesus can garner God's blessings, as an individual (37-38), and as a [Bible] teacher (39-42).
1. Memorize verse 37a. What is an example(s) of judging? Why should we "not" judge?
** We can find an example in the book of Exodus 2:13-14, where thinking that he is a better person than the fellow Hebrews, Moses played a (self-appointed) "judge" over two fellow Hebrews fighting each other.
Read Exodus 2:13-14
The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, "Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?" The man said, "Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and thought, "What I did must have become known."
** We should not judge because: [among other reasons]
1) We are all sinners, so we are not the good judge, but the Lord is. In fact, no one but God has the right/authority to judge others. 1Co 4:3-5; James 4:11-12
3) We should not put a stumbling block or obstacle in a brother's way, so that each person would have a full opportunity for him or her to overcome his own problems (sin problems, weaknesses, character flaws) and grow fully in the Lord. Rom 14:4,10-13.
The key point is that Jesus does not want his disciples to be like the Pharisees or teachers of the law who were legalistic, for legalism never makes man to grow to the full greatness of Jesus.
[Note: by the command "Do not judge" Jesus did not mean to get rid of all the judiciary system. Rather, according to Paul, these (police, judges, court system, etc.) are established by God. Rom 13:1. Read also other Bible passages (such as 1Co 2:15; 5:12-13; 6:2-3) which all talk about Paul's prohibition to bring disputes among the believers in front of a secular judge who does know God.]
2. Verse 37b says, "Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned." How is this injunction related to "Do not judge"? What is an example(s) of condemning? Why should we not condemn?
** Judging comes first, and then condemning second. You sit as a judge, to either acquit (a man declaringhim as not guilty or a sin or crime) or condemn (a man declaring him as guilty of one charge or another).
But because not one single person is always "perfect", if you tried to find faults with anyone, always you can find problems with that person, and will be able to condemn that person as guilty.
** Job's friends condemning Job by saying essentially, "You are guilty of some sort of [hidden] sins you committed. That is why these [disasters] are happening to you." Job 32:3
** There is now no condemnation for all who are in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Read also Acts 10:7-16.
Again, Jesus called the disciples to preach the gospel (not as judges to condemn sinners) which is to set all believers free from condemnation, so all who believe in the gospel would find positions in God's kingdom.
If the disciples however condemn, their act of condemning defeats the very purpose for which Jesus called them.
3.Verse 37c reads, "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Compare the command in verse 37c with 37a and 37b. Do they have anything in common? How is the command (37c) different from the others (37a,b)?
** They all assume that all are sinners.
** 1) The injunctions in verses 37a and 37b are in the negative (Do not...) whereas the injunction in 37a is in the positive;
2) They (37a,b) are the opposite of 37c.
3) 37a,b make a man with a sense of guilt and shame guiltier and more shameful than ever, causing him to fall into a pit further down. But 37c gives him the hope to overcome his problem and bounce back.
4) 37a,b destroys the relationship, b ut 37c builds up the relationship.
4.Read aloud verse 38. Compare the messages this verse conveys with the messages in verse 37. How are they related to one another? What does this comparison indicate about the purpose Jesus had in mind in giving us the words in verses 37-38?
** There are four injunctions:
1) "Do not judge"; 2) "Do not condemn"; 3) "Forgive"; 4) "Give."
1) and 2) are related/connected/stuck together; 3) and 4) are related together.
The first two are needed for the latter 3) and 4) to occur. For example, if you start judging others categorically it is impossible for you to forgive others. If you cannot forgive anyone, you cannot give what you are supposed to give to others.
** Jesus' ultimate purpose is to build a completeunity of love among all (through the leadership of his disciples) as Jesus shared in his high priestly prayer in John 17:23-24.
The purpose of establishing this unity is for God to be able to bestow upon his children the full blessings the Lord God has in mind.
So Jesus' ultimate purpose is to created a climate/environment which can hold all the blessings God has in mind.
5. Compare the two questions in verse 39 with the limitation and the vision a student has in verse 40. What do you think Jesus mean by "a blind man" leading "a blind man"? Whom does Jesus refer to by: 1) "a student"; and 2) "a teacher"?
** Here 'blind' means "spiritually" blind.
By a blind man Jesus refers to those who are spiritually blind, not knowing how to lead men to God. Literally it means not knowing who Jesus really is, for it is Jesus who is the way to God. It does not matter how intelligent or smart you are.
** A student = a disciple of Jesus.
** A teacher = Jesus.
6.Think about the two questions Jesus asks in verses 41 and 42. What does this passage teach us about: 1) the way to overcome one's blindness; and 2) the way to be a good student who is "like his teacher"?
** 1) To be fully trained [to know Jesus' person and his work]
2) To know that you are a greater sinner than all others (just as a plank is greater than a speck of saw dust), and take that plank out of your own eyes.