SECTION 2: the proclaimation of jesus the king
A FEW FINAL WORDS OF WARNING
BEING AMONG THE FINAL FEW
Scripture To Consider:
“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you; for everyone who asks receives, and he [or she] who seeks finds, and to him [or her] who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will you give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will you give him a serpent?”
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him? Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Something To Consider:
The Sermon on the Mount here reaches its majestic climax as it discloses and emphasizes the relations which Christians should maintain toward God and toward their fellow human beings. These are summed up in the exhortation concerning prayer, and in what many have called the golden rule.
The instruction pertaining to prayer is not a message concerning the nature, place, or philosophy of prayer, but it is rather an encouragement to the true followers of Christ to maintain toward God a continual attitude of total trust. The before mentioned exhortations, warning against the perils of condemning, and of carelessness in neglecting charitable acts towards our fellow humans, suggest the need for divine help. Here Christ urges His followers to look to God at all times for needed wisdom, strength, and grace.
Jesus acknowledged, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Nothing could be simpler than the communication between earth and heaven which is thus assured; and further confidence is inspired by the comparison to an earthly parent who though only a man, would not deceive or mock his son; how much more certainly will the Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?
As this instruction concerning prayer inspires a right attitude toward God, so does the so-called golden rule, as declared by Jesus, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This mandate from Jesus summarizes all that Christ requires in relation to our fellow human being. It is an expression of the law of love, and it is as Christ declared, a fulfillment of all that is required by the Law and the Prophets.
Some expressions of this golden rule, either in a negative or in some other less perfect form, are found reflected by Jewish teachers and even by unbelieving historians; but it remained for the great King to proclaim in His manifesto the fundamental law, the observance of which would end all the differences and discords between individuals, between classes and parties, and between the nations of the world. For according to Jesus, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
More Scripture To Consider:
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life [eternal life], and there are few who find it.”
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.”
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he [or she] who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied [or preached] in your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness [iniquity].'”
“Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him [or her] to a wise man [or woman] who built their house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
“Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
“And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
Something Else To Consider:
The Sermon on the Mount closes with three exhortations, one to seek for entrance into the kingdom of God; one to beware of false prophets, false teachers, and false professions; and one to obey the commands of the King. Jesus employs three striking metaphors; the two ways, the two kinds of fruit, and the two builders.
In urging men, women, and young people to become His followers and to seek for the right and wise entrance into the kingdom of heaven, as found in verses 13-14, the figure of speech embodies three great contrasts; the wide or broad and narrow gate, the death and life to which they lead, and the many and the few who enter in.
Here the King plainly teaches that to follow Him involves struggle, self-discipline, and effort. The right path is difficult to find and hard to keep. The broad path is popular and is easy to discover. It is not difficult for one to be lost; one only needs to follow the crowd or the many as Jesus declared. According to Jesus, it is hard to be saved; it requires resolution, sacrifice, and heroism; but the reward is life eternal.
There are many false guides, as seen in verses 15-20, who offer themselves as many religious leaders who masquerade under the name of Christian. They seem innocent enough, but they are like wolves dressed in the fleeces of sheep. Their real purpose is selfish and destructive. Therefore, they must be tested, not only by their lives and their deeds, but still more by the results of their corrupt and Christless teachings. Jesus said, “Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.”
Then too, many others who profess to follow Christ need to be on their guard against self-deception. On that great day when the King will pronounce judgment and will determine who may enter and who must be excluded from His kingdom, many will plead that they were regular in Christian worship and prominent in Christian work, to whom the King will say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice iniquity.”
It is necessary not only to profess the name of Christ, but truly to obey Him and by His help, to do the will of His Father who is in heaven. Therefore, in His final few words of warning and exhortation, in verse 24-27, King Jesus sets forth the absolute necessity of hearing and of doing according to His words and of accepting and obeying His royal commands.
Jesus draws the picture of two builders, one founding his house upon the rock, the other building upon the sand, and in the time of storm and flood one house stands firm and the other house falls in complete ruin. So shall it be in the time of testing and of judgment. Those who truly obey Christ Jesus will be safe. Their eternal destinies are built upon a rock. Therefore, the true servants of the King shall be secure!
Something More To Consider:
It is not strange that the multitudes marveled at the words of Jesus. The world has been wondering at these words ever since. The crowds were astonished that Jesus spoke with such authority and not as the so-called religious scribes of His day who were always quoting one another. Therefore, Jesus is still speaking through these wonderful words even in this 21st century generation. Are we listening?
Jesus has commanded His followers in every generation in His Sermon on the Mount: to rejoice in the midst of persecution; to so let our lights shine before men, women, and young people; to seek reconciliation before showing up for worship; to avoid lustful temptations; to be faithful in marriage; to speak the truth; to be willing to turn the other cheek and to go an extra mile; to give to those in need; to love not only our neighbors but our enemies also; and to bless those who despitefully use us and persecute us for being true Christ believing Christians.
Jesus also commanded us to be privately generous in our forgiveness toward others or to suffer God’s forgiveness; to choose wisely where to store up our true treasures; to not be anxious or full of worry over our daily needs; to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness; to ask, and to knock through humble prayer; and to be slow to condemn others when it is indeed ourselves who may be in need of condemnation.
A Few Final Words:
In closing the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records a few final words of warning spoken by Jesus. Let us for a moment look a little more thoughtfully on these words of warning found in Matthew 7.13-14. Jesus declared in verse 13, “Enter by the narrow [constricting] gate; for wide is the gate [or entrance point], and broad is the way that leads to destruction [or to hell], and there are many who go in by it.”
There are two entrance points into two eternal destinations for every human being who has ever been born and whoever shall be born on earth. The most important eternal effecting decision a person will ever make is the decision that decides their eternal destination. And yet, how much time is truly appropriated for making this all-important eternal deciding decision?
For many this decision is constantly taking a back seat or being put off for another more so-called convenient time in life, which never comes! According to Jesus, there are two gates, two separate entrance points: one straight and narrow or constricting, and one massive enough to encompass thousands of fleshly appealing pleasurable for a season temptations. And also according to Jesus, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life [eternal life], and there are few [not many but few] who find it.”
In other words, will we be found by Jesus having lived our lives as among the few faithful who were indeed both hearers and doers of His Word? Will we be found among the few faithful who thought it important enough to seek to obey the commands of Jesus by seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness afforded us in and through His atoning death upon an old rugged cross, even while we were yet sinners and completely alienated from our heavenly Father?
As always, the final decision to heed Jesus’ few final words of warning is our decision. Let us choose wisely what we treasure most!
Our Father in heaven, thank You for these few final words spoken by Jesus and recorded by Matthew found within what we have entitled the Sermon on the Mount. Help us Father to learn all the lessons of a lifetime that You have for us to learn. And may we be found in the end looking faithfully unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. In Him Always, Amen!
This concludes Volume 1 of the 4 Volume Collection of the Gospel According To Matthew.