"Can a blind man lead a blind man? ..." (Luke 6:39-40)

"Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." (Luke 6:39-40)

Is Jesus the only teacher?

Jesus is clearly stating here the importance of being a student of a living spiritual teacher. He is also illustrating how the student can effectively pass on the teachings of their teacher. This runs contrary to the supposition of many institutional teachers who proclaim that Jesus is the only teacher.

If Jesus was the only teacher, then why did Jesus instruct his students to go out and teach:
He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach - (Mark 3:14)

In Luke 6:39-40, Jesus is speaking here to his disciples (Looking at his disciples, he said:... (Luke 6:20)).

We can thus understand that Jesus is giving his students instruction. He is instructing them on how to conduct themselves and how to progress in their spiritual advancement.

This lies contrary to those who will attempt to apply Jesus' statements here and elsewhere out of context, and many who preach the ultimate contradiction of teaching that Jesus is the only teacher. They are teaching us this. Why do we need them to teach us this if Jesus is the only teacher? Why do they teach - preach - at all if Jesus is the only teacher?

Is it proper to teach before becoming a student?

It is quite simply hypocritical to be teaching that we only need to accept Jesus as our teacher.

Some interpreters of the Bible have stretched and twisted Jesus' statements to fit their agenda. They will attempt to use Jesus' statements to apply to situations outside of their context.

This is precisely why Jesus is underscoring here the need to be "fully trained" by "his teacher."

Having a living teacher who has been trained by a teacher will be able to train us in the same way they were trained, yet apply those teachings to the present time and circumstances. We can see by Jesus' instruction to his students is so important:

Why can't a blind man lead a blind man?

Often a person will join a church assuming that the teacher of that church - its pastor, minister, reverend, priest or whatever - is equipped to help them advance spiritually. The church-goer may sometimes change churches if they do not like the pastor or priest, but this is rare. The church-goer will often choose the church of a sect they feel they are a member of, or perhaps some of their family are members of that sect - or perhaps they were invited by friends or the church is simply nearby their home.

Who the pastor or priest of that church is often a secondary consideration. As explained by Jesus, this is a mistake.

There is a frequent assumption that anyone who has been ordained by educators approved by a church institution's leaders is qualified to be our teacher. This is seemingly verified by a local church committee, who will often select the pastor to be their church teacher.

The Catholic church process is a bit different, with priests being appointed by regional bishops who govern that territory on behalf of the Catholic diocese.

Both processes are essentially the same. The pastor or priest first must attend a seminary college and receive a degree in divinity, and then must be qualified through testing and sometimes interview to become ordained. Then the person is selected through either a committee of deacons or a bishop to be the teacher of a particular church and those who attend that church.

The decision is being made by committees of people. This makes the selection process a political process.

This process - of election or appointment of teachers through a political process by other people - was also existing in the Temple during Jesus' time. The high priests and Pharisee officials were appointed with a political process. 

Yet we find that Jesus did not approve of this process. He repeatedly criticized the Temple institution and those who were politically appointed to their positions among the Temples.

What does "fully trained" mean?

Jesus used the phrase "fully trained" above. Every person who becomes fully trained by a bona fide spiritual teacher is equipped to represent those teachings. If the spiritual teacher is connected with God, the "fully trained" student will also become connected to God. There is no official certification by any institution or other group of people required.

Being 'fully trained' means that the person has become committed to the teachings of their teacher. Being "fully trained" means they are living those teachings. This means they have become devoted to those teachings.

Many will say that the priest or pastor is being fully trained in seminary school. This may be the case, but only if the seminary school teacher has themselves taken on a teacher who is qualified to give them spiritual training.

The problem is that most of the seminary colleges are professional institutions. They are not staffed by those who are carrying out Jesus' instruction to serve the Supreme Being. They are staffed by those who are being paid a salary to teach. This means they are professional teachers - not spiritual teachers.

As clearly stated by Jesus above, a teacher is only qualified if they are first "fully trained" by a "fully trained" spiritual teacher. And because Jesus' teachings taught service ("the will of my Father"), they must be serving the Supreme Being with that service of teaching. If they are receiving a salary in exchange for their teachings, then it is not service. It is business.

Those pastors or priests who were students of these professional teachers carry on that tradition by receiving salaries for their teaching in churches. This receiving of a salary disqualifies them from being bona fide spiritual teachers, however. This is because they are not conducting service to God. They are conducting business.

Should a person serve God for a salary?

A person who is maintaining a business relationship with God - conducting service in return for a salary or some other reward - can only train us to do the same. They cannot train us to become loving servants of the Supreme Being.

They also cannot teach us the answers to the central questions about life: Who am I? Why am I here? Why is there so much suffering here? and Who is God?

And it is for this reason that so many students of these professional Church teachers focus their attention not on regaining their natural position as one of God's loving servants, but they focus upon praying to God for stuff.

This is why some will pray for wealth, to win football games or pray to gain some other material advantage. 

What kind of a relationship with God is this? This is a relationship where we expect God to serve us: We expect Him to help us win the race, fix our leg, make us wealthy and so on.

What does this have to do with loving service? With devotion? Nothing. It is a business relationship.

And it is this very business relationship that makes so many people walk away from their faith in the Supreme Being. They didn't get what they wanted, so to heck with God. Why pray if we don't get what we want?

This type of relationship is specifically the result of the 'blind leading the blind' as Jesus states here. Those professional teachers who are conducting business relationships with God are leading others into that same blindness.

What are they blind to?

They are blind to our identity as spiritual and not the temporary physical body. They are blind to why we are here in the physical world first place. They are blind to our original relationship of loving service to the Supreme Being - a relationship that ultimately brings us happiness.

They are blind to the complete fulfillment that comes as a result of engaging in devotional service to the Supreme Being without any expectation of reward.

They are blind to these because they do not know about them. They have not been "fully trained."

This is because loving service to the Supreme Being without any expectation of reward requires love. It requires a person to love God. And how does a person learn to love God?

First they need to be introduced to God - the Person God. We cannot love someone we do not know.

This introduction must come from a person who already knows the Supreme Being. This is not only God's requirement: It is the universal law of relationships.

Just imagine if we told someone that we were going to introduce them to the President. So they get all excited, and when the day comes, they find out we don't really know the President. We just pretended to know him. Can that person come to know the President without being introduced by someone who already knows him? Likely not. Like most people, the President will typically only trust a person if they are introduced by someone they already trust.

It is similar with God, because a fully trained teacher will show us how we can apply our lives at this very point in time and space in such a way that will please the Supreme Being. Should we truly want to come to know God we will follow those instructions.

And when the Supreme Being sees this, He is pleased. He is pleased because we are committing ourselves in such a way that is pleasing to Him.

This is not only illustrated by this statement above by Jesus. It is also illustrated as Jesus approached and was baptized by John the Baptist. John knew that Jesus was an exalted lover of God already: But he still accepted Jesus as his student by baptizing him. Jesus even commented on the necessity of this process:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." (John 3:13-15)
This is not about getting stuff from God. It is not about God fixing our leg, making us wealthy or helping us win the game. Love for God has not about God serving us: It is about us serving God. "To fulfill all righteousness" in this context means to conduct oneself in such a way pleasing to God.

This is confirmed by the Greek word δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē) translated to "righteousness." This word means "integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, the correctness of thinking feeling, and acting;" and in this application, "the condition acceptable to God." Being acceptable to God means pleasing God. Jesus wanted to please God with his becoming one of John's students - the meaning of baptism.

Just imagine if we were to approach a person we wanted to become friends with, and all we did is ask him to do stuff for us. Would that make for a healthy relationship? The other person would likely dismiss us - as it would be easy to see that we were simply interested in using them to get what we wanted. We were not interested in having a relationship with them.

The Supreme Being is a person. He enjoys loving relationships. He does like to do things for those He loves - and He is doing things for us all the time regardless of our appreciation of them. But a true loving relationship is about service. A person who truly loves another will want to do what pleases that person.

This is what Jesus was trying to teach his students: About loving God and serving God. One does not exist without the other.

This is confirmed by Jesus' most important instruction, which had been passed down from one "fully trained" teacher to another over many centuries, as evidenced by Moses teaching the same instruction to his own students:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'" (Luke 10:27 and Deuteronomy 6:5)