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When the blind lead the blind

Feb 03, 2014

In Luke 6:39-42 Jesus gives us two “parables” to illustrate the principle of blindness. The first is in verses 39 and 40,

39 And He also spoke a parable to them: “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

It was well-known that those who are blind are not qualified or capable of being a guide to the blind. But this is a “parable” that has a broader application, for there are many who see with their physical eyes but are blind spiritually to the truth. The problem, of course, is that most spiritually blinded men do not know that they are blind, but consider others to be blind. We are all prisoners of our own revelation, for better or for worse.

In Exodus 4:11, God told Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” Moses later tells Israel that they had been blind during their entire wilderness journey. Deuteronomy 29:2-5 says,

2 … “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land, 3 the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. 4 Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. 5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness”…

Israel saw the signs and wonders with their own physical eyes, and no doubt these miracles convinced them that Moses’ God was the true God. But those miracles did not give them “a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” Moses was speaking spiritually, for he had witnessed their lack of faith in spite of the fact that they were “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38). Certainly, they had some level of faith, whereby they received justification through the Passover Lamb, but this did not heal their blindness.

Fortunately, the blind were not led by the blind, for Moses saw clearly. Not only was he called to lead them, but he also had a revelation of truth. But if Nadab and Abihu had succeeded in usurping leadership from Moses in Numbers 16, the blind would have led the blind, and all of them would have fallen into the pit.

In later years the prophets also recognized the blindness of Israel and Judah. Isaiah 42:18-20 says,

18 Hear, you deaf! And look, you blind, that you may see. 19 Who is so blind but My servant, or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me, or so blind as the servant of the Lord? 20 You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; your ears are open, but none hears.

Yet the prophet also speaks of Christ and the New Covenant, designed to bring people out of their blindness, saying in Isaiah 42:6, 7,

6 I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, 7 to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.

We see, then, that God does not condemn the people for being blind. In fact, He took credit for making them blind and deaf. The divine plan is proven to be of God, because no religious man in his right mind would establish such a religion or belief system. It is truly unique.

Yet for this reason, the divine law also protects the blind. Leviticus 19:14 says,

14 You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.

Therefore, if we believe that we see and hear and are not blind as others, then this law was given to us. We are not to curse those who cannot hear our truth, nor are we to use our truth as a stumbling block to the blind. When we wrap our truth in contention and a lack of love, we put a stumbling block before the blind.

All of this gives us the backdrop for Jesus “parable” in Luke 6:39, 40.

Jesus’ main point, as seen in verse 40, is that when blind pupils learn from their blind teachers, the pupils cannot rise above his teacher. He can only become equal to his teacher. In other words, when the people learn from blind teachers, they all remain blind, for the pupil, “after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

I suspect that everyone is blind in some areas of understanding. If we knew where we were blind, we would then see and no longer be blind. The problem with blindness (by definition) is that we do not know where we are blind. For this reason, we are given the Holy Spirit as our Teacher. In John 16:13 Jesus says to His disciples,

13 But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

In the days of Moses, the Spirit of God provided many signs, wonders, and miracles, which the people saw with their eyes. However, the church in the wilderness remained blind, because at their original Pentecost they were too afraid to hear God’s voice and to receive the Spirit at Mount Horeb (Exodus 20:18-21). Jesus knew, however, that some of His disciples would draw near to God in the upper room and receive the Spirit at Pentecost.

Yet even so, history shows that much of the church has remained bound by Old Covenant theology and thought patterns. Much of the church, then, remained blind, especially after the spiritual gifts waned and were replaced by talent and eloquence. So we see it said of the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:17,

17 Because you say “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me… eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.”

So we see that the original problem of blindness in the church in the wilderness under Moses has continued in the second church. The first church was a Passover church, in that it was called out of Egypt at Passover. The time of that church ended at the great Passover when Jesus was crucified. After a short transition of seven weeks, the second church, began at Pentecost, making it a Pentecost church. This church too entered a wilderness, not of forty years, but of forty Jubilees, ending on Pentecost, May 30, 1993.

God has now been preparing a generation to become the third church, the Tabernacles church, which (I believe) will begin in some year on the feast of Tabernacles. I believe that this event will remove all remaining blindness from the eyes of the overcomers. They, in turn, will do the second work of Christ by opening the eyes of the blind in every nation, even as Jesus healed blind eyes in His first ministry on earth.

Meanwhile, the problem of blindness in the church still prevails. God does not condemn the believers for their blindness, but reserves sharp judgment for blind leaders who lead the people without a genuine revelation from the Spirit of Truth.

The “parable” in Luke 6:39, 40 is not given in Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount. Later in Jesus’ ministry, however, when the religious leaders were offended by Jesus’ teaching, Jesus made reference to their blindness. Matthew 15:12-14 says,

12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

In Matthew 23:16-26 Jesus again says they are blind on account of their traditions of men, i.e., their misinterpretations of the divine law.

In the ninth chapter of John we are given the primary miracle-sign (Gr., semeion) that best illustrates this. This is the sixth sign in the book of John, where Jesus healed the man who had been blind from birth. The story prophesies of the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles and the Age that follows, during which time blindness will be healed throughout the world—both physical and spiritual.

The Pharisees’ reaction to this miracle was to excommunicate the man who had been healed. At the end of the story, John 9:39-41 gives us some lessons to be learned:

39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

In other words, Jesus said that His mission was not only to heal blindness, but also to blind those who arrogantly claimed to see perfectly. The Pharisees, of course, were already blind, though they did not know it. But their rejection of the truth sealed them in their blindness.

It is a legal principle that if we claim to see, then we are not able to claim blindness as a legal defense for sin. The Apostle Paul used this as part of his legal defense as well, for he testifies in 1 Timothy 1:12, 13,

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.

To be blind is to be ignorant. Paul himself had been a blind Pharisee, but those Pharisees who saw the miracle that Jesus did in healing the man born blind did not claim blindness or ignorance. They saw, but they had already rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and so they refused to believe even in the face of this evidence.

These blind leaders, then, convinced the Judeans themselves to reject Jesus as the Messiah. It was a classic case of the blind leading the blind. Yet many of them received their sight and left the covering of their blind leaders, thus avoiding the locked-in blindness that characterized their leaders.


This is part 28 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.

Studies in the Book of Luke


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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