This is a sermon delivered by Jinky L. Manansala in the regular chapel service at the Valencia Chapel on February 27, 2013. Jinky is a graduating student for the degree in the Bachelor of Arts in Christian Education.
Bible Reference: Luke 6: 39 – 49
Focus Sentence: “Good listening that leads to obedience brings maturity in all aspect.”
How could we say that we have gone matured for the past nine months of staying here at Harris? In Luke 6:39-49, we can find the last part of Jesus’ “Sermon in the Plain”…(If this is a sermon then there’s no need for me to deliver my sermon, I guess.)
These verses were spoken after the discourses of Jesus about one’s relationship with others. And then on the preceding verses, Jesus discussed about knowing and developing one’s capacity and ability to do a certain task. It focuses on hearing, but I believe it’s more about listening, to his words and how God wants us to behave and act when we are preparing to face the task he wanted us to do.
Problem in the Word and World
Why did Jesus conclude his discourse with this parable and sayings? What is the connection of the blind person guiding a blind person, to removing the neighbor’s speck in the eye without seeing the log on their own eye, into good tree bears good fruit, and the story of the two men who built a house with a strong foundation and the other built a house with weak foundation? What is their connection to each other?
Jesus raised questions in this discourse. Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not they fall into a pit? ; (V.41) Why do you see the speck on your neighbor’s eye but do not notice the log in your own eye; (v. 46) Why do you call me Lord, Lord…” These are rhetorical questions that are not needing any answer because their answers are obvious.
In our lives, there are a lot of questions which have obvious answers, but we need others to answer them for us. There are things we need to do, yet we need to be told by others before we do them. Sometimes we look first for the legality of things. We tend to forget to use our common sense. And I realize that the most uncommon of our senses is our common sense. Most of the times, we act like childish individuals, though we are not children anymore. We can observe these in ourselves: the way we look at people when we are in the jeepney, we look at them from top to toe; how we respond when street children or street people look at us in the eye, we just look away; the way we do our lesson plans, we do not pass them on time, or we do not do our best; the way we practice our piano or organ assignments, when we get irritated, and we think that it’s like a punishment for us. And many more to mention. The question is: Were those attitudes or behavior right? Do we behave and act in accordance to God’s will?
Grace in the Word and World
The book of Luke was written for the people that were amidst different beliefs that were attracting Christians at the time. Here, the evangelist presents Jesus as a great teacher. He makes people think for themselves. He gives examples that are common but are neglected most of the time. But we will notice, after Jesus asks question, he also provides the answers. The answers that Jesus provides were common, yet the people are pushed to think again.
In verse 39, Jesus wants to convey that a person must look for people that will lead them to the right path. They must choose leaders/teachers wisely. And he is encouraging others to lead their fellows to the right path by knowing their ability if they can lead and be a leader or a teacher. But the most important thing they must learn is to listen to good and reliable leaders/teachers. And to us, we must look for people who will lead us to the right path, but we must be good listeners to them. If we will do these, who knows we can be great teachers/leaders too. And so, in maturity, we choose and listen to good leaders/teachers.
After that, he told about removing one’s speck in the eye. But before removing others’ speck, one must remove his/her own “log” in the eye. “Log” in the eye… Exaggerated though, but this is true. (I think) Jesus exaggerated the word so that people will be forced to look at their own doings. Sometimes, people need to be stirred up (biglaan ba!) before they recognize their errors. Anyone can commit mistakes, but before correcting others, one needs to examine himself/herself. We must examine and evaluate our own actions. We cannot see clearly what wrongs are unless we will not correct our own. Thinking, how will our brethren believe in us if we cannot discipline ourselves? And so, in maturity, we learn to evaluate ourselves before others.
In verse 43, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bears good fruit,… Our lifestyle, actions and attitudes are the products of who we really are and what we think. It’s a very common teaching, who we are is what we do and what we do is who we are. That is why, after we evaluate ourselves, we see our flaws, we enhance or continue with the good things, we can now determine our actions. And of course, Jesus always wanted for us to do the right things. That is, for us to bear good fruits, and do good things naturally. If that is so, it will not be hard for us to do good things. It will be effortless to act in accordance to God’s will, it’s because out of the pure intention and pure heart why we can do good things. It becomes our lifestyle. Its as easy as breathing air in and out or as easy as drinking water. (I hope so.) And so after we evaluate ourselves, and see our actions, we can see how we grow in maturity. And from this, it shows that maturity is manifested by our works, of course, good works.
In verse 46, Jesus is in his culminating words (maybe). He asked, “Why do you call me “Lord, “Lord and do not do what I tell you?” He simply wants to say that “Action speaks louder than words.” A person who comes to him, hears his words and acts on them, is compared to a man who built his house on a rock, a firm foundation. When flood comes and the river burst against the house, it will not be shaken. On the other hand, a person who hears, but does not act is likened to a man who built his house on the ground without a firm foundation, in a sandy land, in Matthews version. The house is not well built that when the river burst, the house immediately fell down.
Jesus cited the building of a house as the best example for people in hearing his teachings and acting on them. Those examples are common, but are hard to notice, if we will not use our senses, reasons, and feelings. At the time, rivers and seas are the main sources of living. Those bodies of water supplies irrigation, gives food, and a lot of necessities for them. So, most people built their houses near these rivers. If they plan to build their houses near these places, of course, they need to establish strong foundation on a solid ground. It’s wise thinking and common sense. There are a lot of things to consider because if they will not think of those factors, their efforts, time, and materials will be wasted. More importantly, their house is the totality of their possessions.
Jesus uses this parable to compare those people who hear him but do not act or will not act on what he teaches them. If we will not build ourselves into His words and will not apply his teachings, we will become weak. All aspects of our being will be easily shaken and will fall. If we will obey his words and lean on Him through faith, he will be our solid ground and strong foundation. We will not stumble whatever trials and problems will threaten us. We will remain standing firmly in whatever trial we will face. We will keep on practicing our pieces even though we think they are impossible to play, we will keep on doing our best to beat the deadline of our instructional materials, we’ll keep on hoping, praying, and looking for ways or solutions to our problems. We will stand firm. That is the mark of a matured person. Jesus always wants the best life for his people. He wants to keep his people standing firmly and fulfilled after every challenge in life. From this, we can see how far have we’ve gone in our lives and see how matured we have become, especially, in our faith and knowledge in Him. That’s how beautiful life in Christ is. There is no loss, only gain.
Jesus is the best and greatest teacher whom we can consult in dealing with life situations. He wants us, Christians, to keep on growing into maturity as we live every day. In maturity, we choose to listen to good leaders/teachers. In maturity, we learn to evaluate ourselves before others. We look at our own speck in the eye, before we look at others’ specks in their eyes. We try to develop and discipline ourselves. And from this we will find out that maturity is manifested by our good works.
If we will obey his words and lean only on Him, our solid ground and strong foundation, we will not stumble with whatever trials and problems we face. His teachings will uphold us like a strong foundation dug deeply on a solid ground. This is the mark of a spiritually-matured person. a person rooted in the word and teachings of Christ.
In all the years that we spent in Harris, how is our level of maturity? Did we gain a lot from listening and obeying our teachers? Did we bear good fruits from those learning? Have we built a strong faith in God? Have we grown spiritually mature?
Lastly, it is good listening that leads to obedience, and obedience brings maturity in all aspects of our being.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.