The Lame Man and the Blind Man Teaching of the Sages
The Lame Man and the Blind Man
Teaching of the Sages
Jesus and others in his culture used parables to teach, which were an effective way
to explain complex ideas about life and God. One
parable from the Talmud1 gives a clever answer to a difficult
that we discuss even today. How does God deal with the fact that the "spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"? To say it another way, sometimes our physical nature influences whether or not we are prone to a certain sin. We wonder how God deals with
who has a family tendency toward alcoholism. Or, how does he look at a man
who struggles with homosexual thoughts? The rabbis told this parable:
The king in the parable is God, which is usually the case in parables, and gives us a clue who the king is in Jesus' parables. Each of the two disabled men represent part of a person - the lame man is the person's will, and the blind man is the flesh. Neither part is capable of sinning on its own — both act together in order to do anything. The point is that when God looks at us, he sees us as a whole — he knows what we are made of. We are a combination of factors including family history, mental make-up, religious upbringing, etc, and both our background and our own will work together to influence our actions.
Knowing this can give us wisdom for living. On the one hand, realizing that we have a background or personality type that will tend to lead us into a certain sin (like an abusive family or a tendency to anger), we must go out of the way to avoid what we might do impulsively. We can't plead innocence, because we are responsible for what we have been given and what we have done with it. On the other hand, we should be careful not to condemn each other because we can't know all of a person's struggles, insecurities, or what they might have lived through. Two people may be similar in action, but one may have triumphed over great trials, and the other not using their many gifts. Only God knows these things, and only God is fit to judge us justly.
| ©2003 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All rights
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