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. Luke 6:39-40 (ESV)
During his life and ministry, Jesus introduced his new kingdom order and offered a life that beyond that which the Jewish leaders had offered. They were content to work the rhythms of well-tried principles that made for a good reputation and a prosperous lifestyle. Jesus offered life far beyond that — a life where one could love enemies, forgive, fore go judging others, lend without hope of return. But this life wasn’t available to those who chose to remain disciples of the religious leaders of the day. If one continued to do what they said, he or she continued to experience what they experienced, and, according to Jesus, that was not even close to the life designed by God.
But there is gospel in this parable – a chance to be the disciple of another whose life demonstrates the present kingdom of God. Jesus could live beyond religious norms because of his unequaled access to his Father. He is willing to pass that on to those who follow him as master. Their confidence is that they will be like their master.
At this point Jesus doesn’t tell his disciples all that is involved in learning to live like he lives, but he promises that they will. They will have to decide if they want to follow the previous leaders who defined life in terms of “if I will…God will,” or if they will learn to live in the “because God has…then I can” dynamic. It won’t be easy. The default mode for them and for us is the former.
The covenant God made with Moses featured that propositional perspective. The Hebrews were given the Law and told that if they obeyed it they would be blessed with good things, and if they disobeyed they would be cursed. This covenant exposed the deception that mankind can actually keep the Law without intervention by a righteous substitute. But when the fullness of time arrived, Jesus revealed that he alone could qualify for the blessings God wanted to give his sons. He became the righteous one who sacrificed his own life for the disobedient, was raised to new life and gave his life to his disciples.
We, like them, are tempted to mix the teaching of the religious perspective with that of Jesus. We still lean toward trying to get by giving. We depend on our own sacrifices to gain some leverage with God. And then we have to settle for behavioral modification and circumstantial happiness as we strive for the good life.
Until we see what Jesus saw in his relationship with the Father, we will look at such statements as “love your enemies” as another requirement to gain God’s blessing. We will try to and then find creative excuses for not doing it. It is the best we can expect when following the old master, law. Sure we are expected to do it. But only if we are living from the same perspective of Jesus, who not only loved his friends, but died for his enemies. Jesus didn’t come to give us a higher law so we could try harder. He came to give us a new life that we could live higher.