After finishing writing on this passage, God prompted me to think about it another way. He reminded me that this message was specifically aimed at Jesus’ disciples. This was a message they would need once He sent them out into the world.
When Jesus’ disciples head out into the mission field they are going to encounter resistance. While Jesus is still alive the resistance is pretty small. They came back from their first mission trip with glowing reports of miracles and acceptance to His message. The religious leaders were the strongest opponents at that time. I imagine that they were more concerned with Jesus than His disciples’ actions. Maybe He kept them focused on Him during that time. God was certainly covering them with His protection while they walked with Jesus. Their survival in the midst of deadly storms is proof of that.
Jesus’ disciples were not men trained in the temple to be gracious and gentle. They were rough fishermen and even a tax collector. They obeyed the Laws of Moses as was required. But forgiveness was not their first response. This is evident when Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive someone. Jesus’ answer probably knocked him off his feet. The law required seven times but Jesus said seventy times seven.
In Jesus words He is warning His disciples that if they don’t forgive or if they judge that God will hold them to those same standards. They KNOW they need His forgiveness so they MUST be willing to offer it back to others.
This passage on giving makes more sense to me when I look at it from the perspective of Jesus speaking to His disciples. Jesus told His disciples not to take anything with them on their journey. No money, no change of clothing, no extra food. He said that their needs would be met by those they served. They served by GIVING of themselves and giving Jesus message. They, no doubt, also shared freely whatever they received from those who gave back to them; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over! They did NOT go hungry on their missionary trip. They had ALL their needs met while out in the field. This would continue to be how God met them when they gave of themselves and whatever resources they received.
Jesus’ parable also speaks a bit more clearly when you look at the disciples as the original blind men. Before meeting Jesus they were blind. They had no knowledge of the truth of God’s amazing love for mankind. They knew what the religious leaders taught but that was certainly not saving the nation. It was putting everyone in greater bondage every year. Jesus opened their eyes to the truth and the only path for salvation. They were also in a learning process. They were not ready to fly on their own, YET. There would come a time when they were ready. Until then, it was time to keep following and learning from the true teacher.
The log and speck was also addressed in the disciples rank on more than one occasion. The disciples arguing over who was the greatest probably fits this parable very well. “I’m the greatest because you ____ and I don’t” sort of discussion. I started to use Peter’s question about John in John 17 but then I thought about it a little different. I don’t know if it fits. When we get there we will look at that conversation and see where God takes us. For now, we will let that one rest.
Father God, thank You for prompting me to look a little deeper, especially because I thought I had exhausted this subject matter. I KNOW the message You gave me earlier as a personal application of this passage still fits very well, but You showed me Jesus’ personal touch with His disciples. He took the time to warn them about what was up ahead for them. He didn’t send them out blind into the field. He shared every possibility and gave them directions on how to deal with success AND failure while they went about His work. Success is not the absence of failure, but the perseverance in spite of it. They would use every one of these skills in their new role. Thank You for giving these men as examples for me to emulate. They had a hard time with forgiveness in the beginning, but You helped them figure it out. You didn’t give up on them, even when it looked like they were giving up on You. You don’t give up on me either. Thank You for Your steadfast love. Keep me moving forward in my training too. I am NOT the master but I sure enjoy learning from The Master. Keep the lessons coming GENTLY PLEASE Lord.