The Conclusion: Matthew 7:13-29

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As Jesus finishes up His famous Sermon on the Mount, we discover that He saves a very challenging parable and illustration for the very end. As Jesus concludes this sermon, we discover a very bleak picture for those who choose not to pay attention to His message. However, before sharing this parable and illustration, Jesus has a challenge and a warning for His followers and those who are deciding whether to join His followers or not.

Let’s read what Jesus told those present for this sermon and discover what we can learn from what He taught. Our passage is found in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 7, and we will be reading it from the God’s Word translation. Starting in verse 13, Jesus continued preaching, saying:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate because the gate and road that lead to destruction are wide. Many enter through the wide gate. 14 But the narrow gate and the road that lead to life are full of trouble. Only a few people find the narrow gate.

15 “Beware of false prophets. They come to you disguised as sheep, but in their hearts they are vicious wolves. 16 You will know them by what they produce.

“People don’t pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles, do they? 17 In the same way every good tree produces good fruit, but a rotten tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot produce good fruit. 19 Any tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into a fire. 20 So you will know them by what they produce.

Let’s pause briefly here because Jesus has just finished sharing a challenge and a warning, and before moving into Jesus’ concluding parable, I want to draw our attention onto a couple things we can learn from this first portion of our passage.

First off, most people familiar with Jesus’ teaching are familiar with Jesus teaching about the wide and narrow road and the wide and narrow gate. However, I found it interesting that in verse 14, Jesus tells us that “the narrow gate and the road that lead to life are full of trouble”. While this seems obvious on one level, it is something we don’t often like thinking about.

Jesus tells us that when we choose the narrow path leading towards the narrow gate, we will experience a life full of trouble. When we think about this, it makes sense because God has an enemy and he is opposed to anyone and everyone finding the way to God and living the way God desires humanity to live.

Jesus also warns us about the coming of false prophets. Those who Jesus describes coming as false prophets will appear like sheep, but their hearts are not at all Christ-like. Jesus tells us that we can spot them by what they produce, or in other words, by their actions.

Those who produce people who are Christ-like, who love others, who place the good of humanity ahead of themselves, and who desire to lead others to Christ are true prophets. False prophets desire to turn people against each other, false prophets draw people to focus on them instead of focusing on God, false prophets set themselves up as middlemen, claiming to speak for God, and false prophets lead people to act in un-Christ-like ways. The lives and actions of a prophet will tell you whether a prophet is a true prophet send from God or a false prophet that wants to lead you away from God.

However, Jesus has saved a warning for everyone that He wraps up in a sobering parable. Continuing in verse 21, Jesus tells the crowd:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who does what my Father in heaven wants. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?’ 23 Then I will tell them publicly, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you evil people.’

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears what I say and obeys it will be like a wise person who built a house on rock. 25 Rain poured, and floods came. Winds blew and beat against that house. But it did not collapse, because its foundation was on rock.

26 “Everyone who hears what I say but doesn’t obey it will be like a foolish person who built a house on sand. 27 Rain poured, and floods came. Winds blew and struck that house. It collapsed, and the result was a total disaster.”

28 When Jesus finished this speech, the crowds were amazed at his teachings. 29 Unlike their experts in Moses’ Teachings, he taught them with authority.

This last statement summarizes how the crowds reacted to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Matthew tells us that they were amazed at His teachings, and that they recognized that Jesus spoke with an authority that their experts in Moses’ teaching did not appear to have.

However, the final parable Jesus shares is very challenging. Jesus leads into this parable saying that not everyone who calls out His name will be saved in God’s kingdom. Jesus describes a group of people who are very familiar with Jesus, but who are ultimately lost.

Jesus emphasizes the differences between the saved and the not saved in a few different places and a few different ways. First, in the last portion of verse 21, Jesus describes a person who is saved as someone “who does what my Father in heaven wants”. In the whole faith vs. works debate over salvation, Jesus challenges us with the truth that actions do matter in God’s eyes!

It appears as though some of those who are thrown out prophesied in Jesus’ name, forced demons out in Jesus’ name, and performed other miracles using the power of Jesus’ name. However, Jesus still describes them as evil people. It would seem like those in this group knew a lot about Jesus and about spiritual matters, but they missed having a relationship with Jesus. Jesus tells this group: “I’ve never known you.

In the parable of the two house builders, the wise builder is described as listening to Jesus and obeying it. In contrast, the foolish builder is not described as ignoring Jesus, but as someone who listens to Jesus but who does not apply or obey what Jesus has said in their lives. The key distinction between being wise vs. being foolish is in our obedience to Jesus’ teaching. Without obedience, our house will collapse because it was built on sand; without obedience, we cannot have a relationship with Jesus; and without obedience, we will be left outside calling out for Jesus to open the door for us. According to Jesus’ conclusion to His sermon, without obedience, no level of faith can save us.

Obedience alone will not bring us salvation. Our salvation is found in a saving relationship that is based on faith, trust, hope, and belief in Jesus mixed with obeying what He asks us to do. The way to life is narrow, and it is filled with opposition, but even with this description and conclusion looking bleak, remember that Jesus has made the way for us, and as we intentionally continue moving towards Him, He will continue making the path He wants us to walk on become clearer with each and every step!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and resolve today to obey God and to obey Jesus’ teaching. If you are uncertain what God’s will for your life is, perhaps opening your Bible is the next best thing.

This leads perfectly into our next big challenge, which is to continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself. Through prayer and Bible study, you can grow a relationship with God and as you pray and study, God’s will for your life will become clearer and clearer.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or let anything distract or discourage you from going where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Matthew – Episode 13: As Jesus finishes His Sermon on the Mount, discover how His teaching affects the crowds present, and how Jesus’ final message is a challenge for all God’s people throughout the centuries.

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