I continue into the series of introductory excerpts from book Right Parables Wrong Perspectives. These are used with the permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. You can get your discounted copy here or on Amazon. Today’s excerpt from pp. 13-14 speaks of the context of Luke 6.43-49.
Let’s now look at the meaning of the images, especially the parable in context. Once more, the transition word at the head of the sentence in Greek is “for,” connecting the present discussion to what Jesus taught within the event of Luke 6:17–42. Jesus talked about the eye in Luke 6:41–42 in connection with the fruit bearing metaphor. In other words, good fruit comes from good vision. Why did Jesus want his disciples to judge properly? A self-righteous person is too blind to be a good teacher who bears good fruit. The good vision necessary for bearing good fruit is also essential to good judgment. Thus, the tree is compatible with the fruit it bears. The key, though, is having clear vision. Jesus then illustrated with different kinds of fruits what he meant by “good fruit.” He talked about fruits that could be eaten in Luke 6:44, figs and grapes. Neither figs nor grapes could be picked from thorns and briers. Thorns and briers were bad trees. They were of no value because they produced nothing for human consumption.
Within context, the logic of the whole teaching of the tree goes something like this. The “for” at the head of Luke 6:43 should cause us to connect between the teachings of Luke 6:43–45 with Luke 6:41–42. This reconstruction creates a clear message. Vision comes from an accurate self-evaluation. Such a clear vision is important so that when words come out, they will be like good fruits being beneficial to the recipient. In other words, the disciples’ words reflect the inner quality they possess. When reading these teachings, it is easy to get casual with them. Not being able to listen well is certainly a problem, but the problem lessens when there are no consequences. However, if one’s very life or death depends on listening, the problem of hearing and practice becomes much more serious. That really is what Jesus (or Luke) was saying. Listening but not doing has its price and the price is deadly. Jesus’ warning was stern. The text still speaks sternly now.