They Be Blind Leaders of the Blind
Douglas R. Young

Many years ago the venerable William Penn averred, “The honest Man, that is rather free, than open, is ever to be preferred, especially when sense is at the Helm.”  Have you ever wondered what it is that makes people tick?  What moves people to do the things they do?  What causes people to react in the many ways they do?

This author has often asked himself these questions with respect to a sect of the Jews known as the Pharisees.  While reading the Gospel accounts of Christ one cannot help but be amazed at their actions.  This class of hypocrites (Matthew 23:13-33) were a nuisance to our Lord likened to none other.  On one occasion, Pharisees from Jerusalem approached Christ because He and his disciples failed to subject themselves to the “tradition of the elders” by not ceremonially washing their hands before they ate (Matthew 15:1-2).  Ultimately Jesus revealed their true character by declaring they were the fulfillment of Isaiah 29:13 and by their actions were ones who taught for doctrines the mere “commandments of men” (vv. 7-9).  Jesus continues by stating that wicked and evil actions are a result of wicked and evil hearts. The importance of self-examination and preserving the inner man is what is in view.  In reality, the outward expressions of piety (ceremonial washings and etc.) are not the origins of faithfulness to the Father but “the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (I Peter 3:4) is its birthplace.  Likewise, Jesus exposes the “traditions of men” as diametrically opposed to the will of God.  The disciples of Jesus eventually tell him how the Pharisees were offended at what Jesus had told them previously.  Our Lord’s response was crystal clear.  “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind, and if the blind lead the blind both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:13-14).

What was it that made the Pharisees blind leaders of the blind?  This author thinks the answer is found in Jesus’ response to his disciples as to why He spoke to the Jewish people of His day in parables.  In Matthew 13:10 when Jesus’ disciples ask him such a question His reply spoke volumes.  “Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing they shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:13-15).  The Pharisees chose of their own volition to close their eyes and ears to the Truth of God!


Appearance, attitude, and animosity all played pivotal roles in making the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who they were.  The reprimand they received from the Christ of Nazareth resonates loud and clear as to how Jesus felt about their lifestyle (Matthew 23).   The blind who lead generally do so because of pride.  This was the case for the Pharisees of our Lord’s day as was stated by Jesus himself.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. (Matthew 23:4-7).

Furthermore in this potent portion of Scripture Jesus repeatedly called them “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” and finally summed them up as “serpents” and “generation of vipers.”  He did not merely call names but provided ample justification for his assessment. They devoured widow’s houses and for a pretense offered long prayer (v. 14).   They had perverted priorities (vv. 15-22).  They were inconsistent in keeping the Law of Moses (v. 23).  They were pretty on the outside but wretched within (vv. 25-28).  They made claims that simply could not be justified (vv. 29-35).

Denominational preachers and pastors, as well as many of our own preacherettes and youth ministers, are blind leaders of the blind.  They refuse to accept the will of God for what it is and pervert the pristine Gospel of Christ to make for themselves a cheap imitation of the real thing.  They claim to be serving the Saviour but being deceived are serving self, Satan, and the sin Satan sponsors.  Our fellowship will often times choose soothing speeches over soul saving sermons, fun over faith, car washes over Christ, and compromise over courage.

In many cases, such ones appear sincere in their efforts but are still blind. However, there are those whom this author contends are phonies but likewise want to appear to be honest in their efforts.  Honesty does not negate the fact that they are still deceived and blinded.


There can be no leaders without some form of followers.  Those who were mentioned above beguile many with enticing words (Colossians 2:4).  They, with their smooth and fair speech, beguile the hearts of the innocent.  Because the leaders are blind, those who follow after them likewise are blind.  Their sense of assurance is a false sense of assurance.  They think they have peace when in reality they are like Judah of old crying, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).  Many of our own congregations are like the churches at Sardis who have a reputation that lives but are dead (Revelation 3:1) and at Laodicea who say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;” but are really “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).   The blind who follow are those who do not exercise their senses to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).

There were 638 adults and 276 children who lost their lives because they were blind followers of the blind leader Jim Jones.  Furthermore, some 38 blinded souls followed their blind leader, Marshall Applewhite to the grave assuming they would catch a ride on the Hale-Bopp comet as it passed by.  How could people do something so absurd?   They were blind followers who were deceived by a blind leader!


Ultimately, Satan is behind it all.  Those who refuse to accept the evidence for true, undenominational Christianity and those who come to the knowledge of the Truth but refuse to walk in the “old paths” (Jeremiah 6:16) are blinded because of Satan.  He still causes people to believe a lie. Satan blinds the minds of many when the Gospel is not preached (II Corinthians 4:3-4).  Those who daily strive to add the Christian graces to their lives (II Peter 1:5-7) are the ones that can see (II Peter 1:8-9).  It is the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ that can provide sight to those who have never seen and restore vision to those whom at one time had lost their sight!

Navasota, TX 77848

©2001 This paper may be freely distributed as long as there is no cost to others and no changes to the content of any material in this paper.

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