Jesus Christ is the exalted Son of God who humbles himself. Interestingly, all around Jesus are humiliated sons of man who seek to exalt themselves. Our Great Teacher has little fondness for those who are great in their own eyes. Towards such he offers tough words of rebuke and condemnation. Instead of being arrogant self-righteous fools, he would rather them:
- Look at the entirety of God’s holy Law …
- Look at God’s holy Son …
- Look at themselves and cry aloud, “Lord, have mercy upon me a sinner.”
However, instead wise introspection and a humble penitent response, Jesus sees men take their eyes off his holy Law, off his holy Son, and off their hellish selves. Instead, he watches them:
- Look at small portions of God’s holy Law …
- Look at man-made additions to God’s holy Law …
- Look at their neighbors in comparison …
- Look at themselves and cry aloud, “Lord, I sure am thankful that I am not so evil.”
Friends, let’s get back to first things today. Daily self-assessment, confession, repentance, and faith are our duty. Jesus will help us do so:
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:37-49)
Let us take our eyes off the small portions of God’s Law that we think we keep; let us take our eyes off the man-made additional rules we have included; and let us quit looking at our neighbors. Instead, let us hear Jesus’ teaching, look at the entirety of his Law, look at his standard of holiness which he modeled for us, and then take a look at our sinful selves.
Friends, let us get our eyes off our neighbor. Let us quit evaluating his success and failures. All of us are law-receivers. All of us are law-breakers. None of us are law-keepers. Can we not see the same standard we use to accuse him does the same to us? He commits adultery, and we do not love our wives like Christ loved the church. He looks at porn on the internet, and we take a second look as we walk by the Victoria’s Secret poster. He breaks his vow of marriage, and we break our vows to our church. He is a homosexual, and we are home-wreckers. He murders; we hate. He loves not his parents, and we love not our enemies.
Brothers and sisters, we have not what it takes to lead our neighbors. If we seek to do so, we are like blind men leading the blind. We are not our guide. We are not their guide. The best thing we can do follow Jesus and encourage our neighbors to follow as well.
Do we not see that “a fully trained disciple will be like his teacher?” In our thoughts, words, and deeds, are we really just like Jesus? Of course, the answer is, “No.” Therefore, we are not fully trained; we have much work to do. Perhaps we can train in the future, but that is not the case today.
Consider all the things we do that we ought not. Consider all the things we ought to do that we leave undone. Let us look at our actions. Now, let us look at our affections. Is it not true that, despite the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we still have issues the size of telephone poles. Now, tell me again why we have interest and time to focus on the splinters in our neighbor’s life?
Friends, do we know why we still sin? Do we know why bad fruit is found in our emoting, thinking, talking, and walking? It is simple; we are still influenced by the devil, the world, and our wicked flesh, old man, or sinful nature. If our insides were only good, then only good fruit would abound. This will be true in our future glorified state. However, for now, though we are united with Christ, declared just, positionally sanctified, adopted, filled, and perfectly beloved, we ought never be far from saying, “Lord, have mercy upon me a sinner.” Simultaneous saint and sinner we are.
Then, let us ask ourselves these questions, “Is there a one of us who always does what the Lord tells us to do? Is there anyone who comes to Jesus, hears his words, and then does all of them, all the time, all the way?” If the answer is yes, then we are fortress like. We are secure against all storms and floods that might come our way. However, you and I are not like the individual mentioned by Jesus. We are not worshipers who come to Jesus, hear his words, and do them. We are not keepers of his two great commandments. The Ten Commandments are not kept by us every day — or any day. No, sadly, we hear his words, appreciate them, do some of them, and ignore the ones we find less desirable. And this puts us in a dangerous place. We think we are self-secure in our own self-righteousness and disaster is over the horizon.
However, thanks be to God and the Gospel. Jesus saves us and secures us, not because of works that we have done, but by grace alone. When we are faithless, he is faithful. His obedience, and not our own, is the rock upon which our house stands secure. Is this not his teaching? Is this not the doctrine which he sough to impress upon those in his congregation who thought of themselves more highly than they ought? Friends, Jesus offers nothing to the person who thinks himself to be good and holy. However, to the one who sees the Law, sees the Son, sees his sin, and responds in faith and repentance, blessings abound.
So let us quit imagining we are:
- The Judge of our Neighbor
- The Leader of Blind Men
- The Fully Trained Disciple
- The Splinter Inspector
- The Good Tree Bearing Good Fruit
- The One Calling, “Lord, Lord” who Comes, Hears, and Does
- The Strong Fortress Impervious to Storms
Instead, while being assured of the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to all who come in humility, faith, and repentance, let us see that we are:
- Imperfectly Trained
- Telephone-Pole Carryiers
- Bearers of Bad Fruit
- The One Calling, “Lord, Lord” who Comes, Hears, and Disobeys
- The Weak Fortress Battered by Storms
Let us be humble. Let us be broken. Let the Law drive us to the Gospel. And let us be refreshed by Jesus Christ who comes, not to save the righteous, but desperate sinners in need of grace.