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.
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 thorn bushes, 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.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does 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!’
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.”
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.
People today would condemn Jesus as a bigot, I think. He lays out two ways to live life: His way and the wrong way. The wrong way, ironically is a way of comfort. Most people choose to follow the flow of those who enter by the broad gate and walk the broad path to destruction. Few people find Jesus and when they walk with him, their path is not comfortable or easy compared with those who are self-serving or self-righteous. Jesus challenges disciples, crowds, and religious-leaders alike to evaluate upon which path they are travelling. As the NIV Application Commentary outlines:
7:13-14: Will you enter the gate to life in the kingdom of heaven and embark on a life of following me? Or will you reject me for the popular road that leads to destruction?
7:15-20: Will you find in me the inner source of transformation that will produce the good fruit of life? Or will you follow the prophetic voices of this world that hype a promise of life but will only take you into the fires of hell?
7:21-23: Will you obey my Father’s will and come to me as your only Lord? Or will you chase after false manifestations of spirituality that result in eternal banishment?
7:24-27: Will you build your life on me as your solid rock? Or will the pleasant ease of your life cause you to be unprepared for the storms that will come in this life and that will ultimately wash you away into the desolation of the afterlife?
So this leaves us to evaluate, upon which path are we walking right now?
- How are those who follow Jesus’ way contrasted with those who do not?
- How would the disciples, crowds, and religious leaders have responded differently?
- How can a person tell if they are a disciple?
- What is your reaction to The Sermon on the Mount?
- What is the defining characteristic of the life you live?
I’m meditating on the images presented here. There are things here that I need to absorb. First of all, the tree bearing fruit. The aspect of this that strikes me today is the inability of the tree to create its own fruit. The passage says that EVERY good tree produces good fruit. It can’t help it. It produces good fruit because it IS a good tree. The next verse says that a good tree CANNOT produce bad fruit. I guess what I’m getting at is that this makes it not about what I do and more about who I am. I AM a good tree if I have been redeemed by God. And HE is producing the fruit in me…often in spite of me.
The other image that I love is the house on the rock and the house on sand. This is a passage that I have gone back to several times. I love houses, so I think this particular image appeals to me. But I think I have seen myself as more of a house built on sand. The reason is that my faith took a long, hard beating for several years as I struggled with depression and several painful life circumstances. There were times when I was angry with God and wanted to walk away. It seemed as if I had “fallen with a great crash.” However, the foundation is still there. So that foundation must be of rock. But for the grace of that solid foundation, I would have been destroyed. I AM a good tree.