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Matthew 7:13-29For the past few weeks we have been dipping into Matthew to pick up on Jesus' teachings on the Kingdom. Today we are coming to the end of the most fertile words of Jesus on the Kingdom. He ends this section speaking about 2 ways or gates (narrow and wide), 2 guides or prophets (true and false) and two foundations (on the sand and on the rock).
First, the two gates: 13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
NOTE the results of each. The narrow gate leads to life and the wide gate leads to destruction. In a very real sense, we are left with two choices. Do we enter by the narrow gate that is difficult where few will find it? Or, do we enter by the wide gate that is easy and many will find it?
NOTE also Jesus begins with the command urging us to enter in through the narrow gate. Remember, the entire Sermon on the Mount is answering the question, "How does your teaching differ from what we've been taught, Jesus?" His answer here is that to follow Him and His teaching will be difficult, but will lead to life. To choose not to follow Him and His teaching will be the easiest thing to do, because the masses are going in that direction. Don't follow the crowd; follow Jesus.
Jesus next speaks of two guides or prophets: 15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Unfortunately, false prophets don't wear an FP on their sleeves or foreheads. Jesus warns that there will be false prophets who seem harmless, but are out to destroy. He says that you can decipher them by their fruits. But even this may be difficult to judge (conclusively judge) whether or not a prophet is false or genuine, because many false prophets show a certain kind of fruitfulness in what they do. That's what makes them so attractive and authentic.
But NOTE what the test here really is. The term fruit is the operative word here. In order to check out a prophet's fruit (not their show or outward demonstration), you need to observe the person and ministry over a prolonged period of time. It takes time to produce fruit. There is no instant fruit. So watch for the fruit over a long period of time and you'll know.
Now NOTE what these false prophets actually do. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
Jesus says that there will be people who come before Him in the last days, calling Him Lord, but will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Just using the right language will not get a person into the kingdom of heaven. HOWEVER, the one who does the will of the Father will enter-the person who not only talks a good game, but walks it and proves it out by his actions.
These people, Jesus says, will do 3 things that will make it all the more difficult to discern whether or not a person is a false prophet. · They speak in the name of Jesus. · They cast out demons in the name of Jesus. · They perform many miracles in the name of Jesus.
WOW! These are some powerful things that the false prophets do. So how can you tell the difference between the false and the genuine? The only answer Jesus gives here is that you will know them by their fruits, so watch what they do.
2 GATES (narrow and wide) and 2 GUIDES (true and false). Now, Jesus finishes up these pairings with 2 FOUNDATIONS. 24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
The 2 Foundations are representative of people as they build their lives. Compare the two foundations. Each person hears the words of Jesus and each person faces the same rain, floods, and blowing winds slamming against them.
NOTE also the differences between the two. Each person responds differently to the words he has heard-one by acting upon the words of Jesus & the other by not acting upon them. Then, each person experiences a different result-one does not fall down and the other falls flat!
I am now convinced that most of us, most of the time, have lived our lives founded upon the sand. It's what I call the "sandcastle lifestyle". What Jesus is saying is so simple and so profound. Jesus wants only two things from us.
FIRST-He wants each of us to listen to His words. Instead of talking all of the time when you pray, try sitting still and waiting for Jesus to speak to you. You'll know what He wants from you. You'll know what His will is for you. I regret to say that I have spent most of my life talking and not listening. Therefore, I have missed out on what Jesus is attempting to say to me. It's as simple and as tragic as that.
SECOND-He wants each of us to act upon what He says to do. Listen to Jesus and do what He says to do-no more and no less.
NOW, NOTE THE RESULTS: If you hear His words and are careful to do them, no matter what comes in against you, your house will not collapse! If you hear His words and don't do them, the very same rain, floods, and winds will come upon you, then your house will fall flat-dramatically!
The response to Jesus' words is truly amazing: 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Jesus didn't quote other authorities to make His point. He spoke from His own authority. Jesus spoke so powerfully that it amazed all those who heard Him. This Jesus is for real! Jesus is so attractive! Jesus is the most irresistible One Who ever lived!