Beans, Bushels, & Beams
Beans, Bushels, and Beams
If you’re new to River City, we’ve been going through the book of Luke in our sermons since September, and our goal is to understand better who Jesus is. This book is a carefully crafted narrative from eyewitness accounts of what Jesus began to do and teach while he was here on earth, and then in the sequel series from the book of Acts, to see how Jesus continues to do in and through the local and global church. So we’re now in Luke chapter 6, and I invite you to turn there in your Bibles with me. Luke chapter 6.
The Upside-down Kingdom
Jesus has been teaching about what it looks like to be a disciple. We watched in verses 12-16 as Jesus chose 12 men to be apostles who will be the leaders of this newly announced kingdom. They don’t have any idea what all that means yet, so Jesus begins to explain.
What must have come as a surprise to the disciples, and is certainly a bit shocking to us, is that the kingdom is counterintuitive. It goes against what comes naturally to us. Some have called it the upside-down kingdom.
We find it easiest to love and share and help people who are most like us. People who think the same way we do about things, who are in the same tribe politically, like the same hobbies we do, run business the same way, educate children the same way, believe the same things about healthcare, or whatever. We tend to gravitate toward people who think like we do.
Jesus says, sure that’s great, but I say to you who listen: Love your enemies. Love the people outside of your little circles. Do good to the people who aren’t nice to you. Ask God to bless them, to show them grace, to act on their behalf too. Be generous with people, even to the point of being taken advantage of. Why? Because as children of God, you are imitating your Heavenly Father when you do.
Just as you want others to do to you, do the same for them. Do good to others, and be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Imitate your Father.
Those are the two sides of the same coin for a disciple of Jesus, but we could merge them to simply say: Treat people the way you want to be treated by your Heavenly Father! That’s the standard for a disciple
Has your Heavenly Father shown you love when you were an outsider to his purposes and plan? Yes! God demonstrates his great love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! - Romans 5:8
Has your Heavenly Father been good to you, even though sometimes we are ungrateful and sinful? The Lord causes grass to grow for the livestock, provides crops for man to cultivate, producing food from the earth, wine that makes human hearts glad – and bread that sustains human hearts. – Psalm 104:14-15
Has the Lord been merciful to you? He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10
Last week, we talked about some of the ways love is shown to our enemies – with our actions and words: Do good, be generous, bless them, pray for them… But now the conversation about loving our enemies moves inward.
Change of heart
Verse 37, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Now it’s moved inward to a heart level. Jesus isn’t calling just for a change of action – there is also a change of heart, where even the way we think and feel about those outside of our camp is affected. And the call Jesus gives is do not judge.
Something many of you know about me is that I appreciate good coffee – like a lot. I roast my own coffee at home, I rarely order coffee in a restaurant, in fact when I go on an extended trip like our vacation this past summer, it’s quite an operation.
But coffee comes from a leafy shrub that grows best in warm climates and high elevations. That shrub produces a cherry, which has two seeds in it. After the cherries are harvested, they are sorted, throwing out the overripe or under-ripe cherries. Then, through a variety of processes, the seeds are removed from the cherry and set out to dry in the sun. The really good coffee happens when teams of harvesters pick through the seeds pulling out any with discoloration or cracks or those that are too big or too small. In order to do that process and produce the best coffees, you have to be able to discern or judge which coffee beans are ripe and which are not.
That’s what it means to judge. It is to make a decision about who is in and who is out. To pass judgment on a person is to make a firm decision about them, and then either count them as worthy to be part of your tribe, your community – or to write them off, and in effect, throw them out, where they are determined to have no hope or value. Or to use the word we apply to buildings which have been determined to be useless and of no value: Condemned.
… which is the middle third of verse 37. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
So I know you’ve heard this verse thrown around pretty loosely at some point in your life. “Don’t judge me. Only God can judge me.” Don’t judge lest ye be judged.
What that usually means is, “I’ll live my life, you live yours. You don’t know my story. You don’t know why I did the things I did. Don’t think less of me just because I made different decisions than you.”
- 1 Corinthians 5:11-13: If someone claiming to be a follower of Jesus is living in unrepentant sexual sin, you should not even have lunch with them.
- Galatians 1:9: If someone preaches something other than what the Bible teaches, a curse be on him!
Both of those require you to make a judgment. To weigh a fellow believer’s actions and words against scripture, and prayerfully consider how to lovingly and personally confront them, is actually one of the instructions to the church as a way to help one another walk worthy of the gospel, and maintain a good witness for Christ.
But the context of “don’t judge” here in Luke 6 is that of loving our enemies and imitating God. So by saying not to judge, Jesus is saying don’t throw anyone out and say there is no hope for them. Even the person who is hurting you for the sake of Christ – Don’t treat them like bad coffee beans or a building full of mold… Don’t condemn them,
Instead, forgive, and you will be forgiven. 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 back to you."
This is a picture of the marketplace, where in those days, the merchant would sell you something by weight or volume, so you would have a measure. A gallon is measure. A bushel is a measure. So let’s say you bought a bushel of corn. So the seller would pull out the basket or whatever that measures a bushel.
Then he starts pouring corn. Now, he could treat the sale like a bag of chips these days, where they fill up the bag with air, and whatever space is left they put in a few chips. He could fill the bushel with corn and say there you go, sorry if it’s not full when you get home – it settled during transit. But an honest and generous merchant will fill the bushel about halfway, then shake the bushel basket so the corn settles. Then he fills the bushel to the brim and shakes it again. Then with both hands he presses down on the corn, packing it together. Then he pours on top slowly forming a cone on top of the basket. Some would even scoop out a hole at the top of the cone and pour more corn into that until there is literally not room for even one more kernel of corn without it spilling over… which is a true measure of a bushel. Then you would hike up your robe forming a pocket on your lap and he would pour that full measure into your lap.
Jesus’s point is that if you act like that toward others, showing no favoritism but treating those in your camp and those outside your camp the same way – showing mercy the way you’ve been shown mercy, forgiving others the way you’ve been forgiven, being very, very hesitant to judge, refusing to condemn – get ready, because Whatever measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
If you’re stingy with grace, well, don’t expect an abundance of grace in return. If you’re stingy with mercy or forgiveness, well, that’s the way it will be measured back to you.
So when it comes to this idea of judging and deciding who is in and who is out, Jesus tells a parable that says you become like whoever you follow.
Verse 39 – He also told them a parable: "Can the blind guide the blind? Won't they both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
Who is teaching you?
Children quickly learn from their parents who is in and who is out; what words we say and which ones we don’t; what actions are appropriate and which ones aren’t; even what sports teams are in and which ones are out; which schools are in and which ones are out; which churches are in and which ones are out; which kinds of food or tv shows…
Back in Jesus’ time, people didn’t have libraries of books in their home, and even when you went to school, it wasn’t about reading books. It was about following your teacher. You pretty much followed them around wherever they went and listened to their words. Since learning was so personal, students quickly and easily became like their teachers.
We all follow someone. We all submit ourselves to someone’s worldview of what is right and what is wrong; what is in and what is out. We naturally become disciples of something.
- Conservative news
- Mainstream news
- Health & wellness
- Instagram & Snapchat & TikTok
- Prosperity gospel/self help
- We imitate the teachers of these religions. We learn from them and become their disciples. We accept their doctrines. We trust their research and their work. We start to embody the same spirit and emotional energy they do. We follow their example and imitate their leadership, and we become like our teachers.
So which teacher are you listening to the most? This is one of those moments you should judge! You should discern through wisdom and the Word of God if what or who you are spending the most time with is actually leading you where you want to go!
A follower becomes like the leader, whether that’s good or bad. If the leader is good, and has your best interest in mind, they will lead you to life! To wholeness. To goodness. To wisdom. If that leader is metaphorically blind, it’s destructive. You won’t just trip a lot, they will walk you right into a mammoth hole in the ground.
You will mature into whatever your teacher is. It’s a picture of fruit that is ripe. It has come to its fullness and completion.
Ephesians chapter 4 says that’s the goal for all of us. That we grow into maturity in Christ. The purpose of the church, then, specifically the leaders of the church, is to help you do that. God has called certain people in such a way that they can lead the church, but the purpose is that they would be equippers. My job as your pastor is to give you the tools you need to follow and imitate Jesus outside of these walls, and the tools you need to be able to encourage and build up the people inside these walls, until all of us are unified in our faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing as a body made up of many parts, into maturity until there’s not a single kernel of who Jesus is that is missing from this body of believers. Until we have the full measure of Christ.
At that point, Ephesians says, we won’t be sidetracked by bogus preachers and human cleverness, or alternative gospels. Or as Luke 6 puts it, we won’t follow blind leaders off a cliff to our destruction. But just because you’ve discerned what leaders are blind doesn’t mean you won’t become one yourself.
Jesus knows that what’s easy to do is point at other people and call them blind guides. It’s easy to point at politicians who don’t think like we do or people who parent differently than we do, or people who have different work ethics or standards for this or that, and call out whatever you think is wrong. And Jesus is calling us to first judge ourselves. Verse 41-42
"Why do you look at the splinter in your brother's eye, but don't notice the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the splinter that> is in your eye,' when you yourself don't see the beam of wood in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the splinter in your brother's eye.
This is a contrast of the greatest possible proportions. The splinter in your brother’s eye is speaking of sawdust. A tiny particle of wood that flies through the air and causes irritation. The beam described here is like a giant beam in the ceiling of a house that holds it all together.
Both a splinter in your eye or a giant 2x4 sticking out of your face both cause blindness. Both need to come out. Sin is sin. But to judge someone is to point out their sin and ignore your own.
Jesus uses this as an illustration of how we often see other people. We see some sin or bad habit in someone else, and we call out what we see. Yet in our own lives, we have something made of the same material but we’d rather not deal with it because it’s holding up a whole house that would have to come down if we dealt with it.
I remember meeting with someone a while ago who was struggling with something that had happened in their past. They had definitely been sinned against, there was no question. The hurt was real, the problem needed to be addressed. But the giant beam of unforgiveness and bitterness and anger in my friend’s life was holding up an entire house of self-righteousness, entitlement, and justifying their own sin.
But even going into and out of those meetings, it was easier for me to see what was wrong with his heart than it is to look in my own heart and find where I have unforgiveness, where I have entitlement. Pride, envy, lust.
We tend to say things like, “yes, I know I’m not perfect, but they are the problem.” “Yes, I know I have issues of my own that need to be dealt with, but they are making me this way; yes I’m not perfect, none of us are, but they don’t have a brain in their heads.”
When we become the judge or think of ourselves as wise teachers who know the answers while everyone else is just blind and dumb, we put ourselves in the place of God! That’s the giant beam sticking out of our eyes! Sure, your friend or child or parent might have sinned – but putting yourself in the place of God as their judge is destructive to them and to you!
I think Jesus’ point here is again in the context of loving your enemies and imitating God is that you are called first and foremost as a disciple of Jesus, a child of the Most High, to make your own sins bigger than someone else’s not smaller. The kingdom of heaven is yours! Your reward is great in heaven! So get the beam out of your eye so you can see clearly to help others. Become professional repenters.
The goal is to be able to see clearly.
That’s what the end of verse 42 says. We want to be able to see clearly so we can help others in need. We want to see reconciliation and forgiveness here in Riverside. We want to see sinful patterns and hopelessness gone in the name of Jesus. But if we can’t forgive the people who’ve harmed us; if we can’t guard our minds and our mouths from condemning the people who aren’t like us or the people who annoy us; if we can’t be generous with mercy and grace and forgiveness to the people in our lives who don’t deserve it, then like my friend who couldn’t forgive, we are blind guides leading the very people we’re trying to help into a bigger pit.
The only solution to spiritual blindness is to let God be God! Let the King rule his kingdom! He is the great and glorious optometrist, who specializes in plank and splinter removal. He was crucified with two thieves, nailed to a beam of wood to forgive and redeem those with beams and sawdust in their eyes, and restore their eyesight to see and delight in and live for the glory of Jesus. He took the condemnation for sin, paid for it with his blood, God accepted the payment and raised him from the dead and now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
He is the only teacher worth following, the only guide full of grace and truth, who will never lead you off a cliff; who will never abandon you or forsake you.
Jesus is the great and glorious Judge, who will one day bring all things that were done in secret into the light, and everything will be exposed for what it really is. He is good. He is patient. He is gracious to the ungrateful and to the evil. Exodus 34:6-7 (CSB) The Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished --
River City, because the kingdom is ours and our reward is great in heaven, we are free to forgive and love and be generous; free to let the King be the king.
Bock, Darrell L. 1994. Luke: 1:1–9:50. Vol. 1. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Green, Joel 1997. The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co