A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40
I realized as I read this verse recently that I have been taking it out of context for a very long time. Actually, kind of skipping over it because of the more dramatic content that is around it. But I realized that it is like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle that completes the picture. So, what comes before and after this verse?
Before the verse Jesus asks, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?”
And then right afterward there is another saying that I have taken out of context:
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? Luke 6:41-42
I have been taking all of these verses as stand-alone and out of context. But what Jesus has given here are two verses about being blind sandwiching a verse about being fully trained to be like the teacher. What does this mean?
The Greek word translated “fully trained” above is katartizo. It means to render, sound, complete, to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair, to complete, to fit out, equip, put in order, arrange, adjust, prepare, restore, make perfect.
According to W.E. Vinei, the Greek word katarizo “is used of mending nets, Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:19.” Wow, did you get that? Jesus is talking to his disciples here. “Looking at his disciples, he said:” (Luke 6:20). He was talking to learners, pupils, some may have thought “rabbis-in-training.” The underlying assumption seems to be that these disciples would go out and be leading – “can a blind man lead a blind man?” They would also become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17, Luke 5:10) – and they needed their nets mended. Jesus had just finished some hard sayings:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you ... Luke 6:27-35
Be merciful … Luke 6:36
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37
I’m pretty sure that, like me, their thinking needed to be adjusted. Their nets needed mending. (Isn’t it amazing and symbolic that when Jesus called James and John, they were mending their nets?) When Jesus asked, “Can a blind man lead?” he was using the word tuphlos, which can mean physical or mental blindness. Significantly, it comes from tuphoo, which means to be enveloped with smoke (so as to render blind), to be puffed up with haughtiness or pride, inflated with self-conceit.
How can we be fishers of men if our nets are full of the holes of prejudice, self-righteousness, unforgiveness, judgment, and pride? But what did Jesus say?
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36
Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Luke 6:46
There’s a whole lot of judgment and condemnation going on out there. Let’s allow our Lord to adjust us, to repair and restore us, to mend our nets, so that we can be like Him in mercy and love and light.
“The Lord is very ready to forgive; it is the church that is unmerciful sometimes, but not the Master. He is always willing to receive us when we come to Him, and to blot out our transgression.” — Charles Spurgeon, God’s Fatherly Pity
Read more about God’s net of everlasting love here (I will throw my net over them)
Photo used with gratitude: Fish nets by John Levanen https://flic.kr/p/8yYErh