37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 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.”
39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
41 “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? 42 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.
Observations and Reflections
The current block of text from the sermon on the mount is all about one thing; hypocrisy. Many would rightly point out that Jesus was fed up with the hypocrisy of the religious leaders but the audience on this day would have been quite a mix of classes and locations. This message was not just for the religious leaders but for all people. Nothing is more damaging to the gospel message than messengers who say one thing but do another.
Moreover, Jesus is teaching a principle which is that those who harshly judge others will be judged themselves by the same standards.
However, we should not overlook the fact that the Pharisees would have been on the minds of many people in the audience. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees was not a new issue. It was a long and lingering problem. The 1st century Judean ruler, Alexander Jannaeus lamented the problems of the Pharisees on his deathbed with the following words, recorded in the Talmud.
King Jannai said to his wife’, ‘Fear not the Pharisees and the non-Pharisees but the hypocrites who ape the Pharisees; because their deeds are the deeds of Zimri (Omri the evil king)
Additionally, it was said that there were 7 types of Pharisees according to the Talmud, 6 of them a plague.
- The shikmi Pharisee — he is one who performs the action of Shechem.
- Who was circumcised from an unworthy motive
- The nikpi Pharisee — he is one who knocks his feet together.
- Who walks with exaggerated humility
- The kizai Pharisee — R. Nahman b. Isaac said: He is one who makes his blood to flow against walls.
- In his anxiety to avoid looking upon a woman he dashes his face against the wall
- The ‘pestle’ Pharisee — Rabbah b. Shila said: [His head] is bowed like [a pestle in] a mortar.
- Who walks with his head down in mock humility
- The Pharisee [who constantly exclaims] ‘What is my duty that I may perform it?’ — but that is a virtue! — Nay, what he says is, ‘What further duty is for me that I may perform it?’
- As though he had fulfilled every obligation
- The Pharisee from love
- The only good pharisee
- The Pharisee from fear
- The one who constantly preaches the death and wrath of God.
Jesus’ teaching on false religion is one that we should all be reminding ourselves from. This message was not just about the pharisees but about all disciples of Christ. We are called to a higher standard and to worry about our own sin, not the sin of others.