The Sermon on the Plain: A Splinter in Your Eye

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Photo by Sugar Pond (click for source)

Jesus also told them a riddle. “A blind person can’t lead another blind person, right? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Disciples aren’t greater than their teacher, but whoever is fully prepared will be like their teacher. Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s or sister’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Brother, Sister, let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the log in your own eye? You deceive yourselves! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye. (Luke 6:39-42)

We looked at the first two verses yesterday. Today we’ll put them in context with the rest of the famous parable.

  • This splinter/log metaphor works on so many levels.
    1. First, we all know how irritating it is to have a tiny speck in your eye. It itches, your eye waters, and you can hardly think of anything else. Can you imagine being oblivious to it?
    2. Occasionally I have asked a trusted friend to take an irritant out of my eye. “Can you see it?” I ask while I pull my eyelids up and to the side.
    3. I also know how reluctant I am to touch someone else’s eye. It’s a delicate operation.
    4. I’m often stunned that these jelly-filled orbs in my face do so much. How precious they are to me! And how frustrating when they don’t work!
    5. The image of someone with a log or beam in their eye is supposed to be ridiculous. It’s like an octopus on roller skates. Yet we see in real life how this works all the time when it comes to judging others. Preachers, politicians, pundits—all are notorious for being judge-y hypocrites, but they certainly don’t have a monopoly on the practice.
    6. When you do see someone with something in their eye, doesn’t it make your own eye hurt or itch in sympathy? You naturally want to help them, because of the discomfort it causes you. I think about the way I am often embarrassed for other people. But my discomfort is really discomfort with my own experiences, not theirs.
  • What is it about religion in general that gives people license to be judge-y? How can a religion based on the man who said these things be so moralistic?
  • The CEB chooses to translate “Hypocrite!” as “You deceive yourselves!” I think this is an interesting choice. Matthew loves the word the most. He uses it a dozen times in his gospel. Luke only uses it a few times, but this is one of those instances.
  • By putting the “blind leading the blind” and “splinter/log” sayings together, Luke, more clearly than Matthew, makes this saying about spiritual leadership. There is the possibility of someone becoming fully prepared for the delicate operation of teaching and leading.
  • You will be like your teacher. How often do you see Jesus judging people? He heals and liberates. Someone who has become like Jesus, and is fully prepared to remove splinters, simply isn’t going to go around poking their fingers into people’s eyeballs
  • This section is about seeing clearly. How confident are you that you see clearly? Do you think you see clearly enough to help others see? Do you think you see clearly enough to help without hurting? How many people are walking around doing harm, all the while convinced that they are helping? This paragraph makes me realize how dangerous “ministry” can be.

Prayer:
All-seeing One, my vision is limited. Help me see what I need to see for myself before I presume to help others.

2 thoughts on “The Sermon on the Plain: A Splinter in Your Eye

  1. Dave, I appreciate the time and thought you put into translating these familiar parables into everyday lessons so appropriate for what we are experiencing now. You are helping me re-learn them for my personal use, rather simply hearing them quoted in a sing-song Church-y voice. Muchas gracias, m’hijo!

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