Do you know what happens when the blind try to lead the blind?
Many of the familiar expressions we use today originated in the Bible. One such idiom, “the blind leading the blind,” comes from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 15:14: “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (see also Luke 6:39).
As Jesus traveled around ministering in Galilee, He attracted crowds from places near and far, including Jerusalem—the authoritative center of Judaism at the time. The Gospel of Matthew records a scene in which a group of Pharisees and scribes travel from Jerusalem to confront Jesus. These religious leaders were the representatives of Judaism in that day. They were entrusted with studying the Scriptures and guiding God’s people in the ways of the Lord.
Without a doubt, these Jewish leaders were receiving reports of miracles and unconventional activities surrounding Jesus’ ministry. They became alarmed that their many regulations, laws, and age-old “traditions of the elders” (Matthew 15:2, ESV) were not being kept. Specifically, they had come to question why Jesus’ disciples were breaking the tradition of ceremonial handwashing before meals. According to their procedures—which, in reality, were human-made regulations and not part of God’s Word—Jesus and His disciples were behaving in a way that made them ritually unclean. These so-called spiritual leaders had elevated their legalistic traditions to the point of equality with the commands of God in Scripture, a transgression Jesus was now compelled to confront.
Leading up to His description of the religious leaders as blind leaders of the blind, Jesus pointed out how the Pharisees had broken God’s commandments (Matthew 15:3–9). First, He established their hypocrisy—they regularly broke the laws of God while demanding that others follow their human-made traditions. They displayed outward piety but lacked true devotion to God and His Word in their hearts. They were rebellious toward God and blind to their spiritual emptiness.
After Christ called the Pharisees “blind leaders of the blind,” He said to “leave them” in Matthew 15:14. By this, He meant for His disciples to ignore the Pharisees, to let them alone and not to try to please them. These religious leaders thought they were experts in God’s law, but they were blind and ignorant of the law’s true meaning. Christ revealed that they were contradicting the very laws they claimed to understand. Instead of leading their students along the right path that leads to life, they were guiding themselves and their followers straight to disaster: “Both will fall into a pit.”
Christ’s parable of the blind leading the blind is just as relevant today as in Jesus’ day. When we allow human rules and regulations to take priority over God’s laws, we lead people astray from “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3, NKJV). If we become blind leaders of the blind, we heap God’s judgment on ourselves: We must be careful not to let arrogance and denial blind us to our spiritual condition. We must make sure that our vision is clear enough to guide others in their spiritual walk. Likewise, we do well to choose our leaders wisely, being careful not to follow blind guides who will lead us away from the straight and narrow path of God’s Word.
Where have you observed the “Blind leading the BLIND?