At that time, is the time after the second Passover of Jesus’ ministry. Luke 6:1. It’s important to remember that the legalistic Pharisees weren’t accusing the disciples of stealing the grain, Mark 2:23-3:6 / Luke 6:1-11.
Under the Old Testament law, a person had a right to pluck the grain from someone else’s field when travelling, though they couldn’t put a sickle to the crop, Deuteronomy 23:25.
They were accusing them of breaking their traditions of the Sabbath by doing the minor work of plucking out the grain on the Sabbath. Jesus and the disciples were violating one of the numerous laws the Pharisees had bound as a result of the traditions of the fathers in order that the Sabbath be kept. Exodus 20:10 / Exodus 36:2,3 / Numbers 15:32-36.
What David did was actually against lesser legalities of the law, 1 Samuel 21:1-7, for only the priests were to eat of the showbread, Exodus 25:30 / Leviticus 24:5-9 / Numbers 28:9-10 / 1 Samuel 21:6.
Though David’s actions were technically unlawful according to the law that forbade anyone eating the showbread other than the priests, there was a higher law of God that superseded the original law. That higher law was the preservation of David, God’s anointed. The Pharisees recognised this.
However, they justified David’s actions while at the same time complaining that Jesus and the disciples were breaking the law of the Sabbath.
Jesus pointed out their inconsistent application of the law, though in this context Jesus and the disciples didn’t violate any Old Testament law. They violated the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Sabbath law.
The priests had to work in violation of Sabbath laws in order to prepare sacrifices because they had to work on the Sabbath in preparation of the sacrifices, Numbers 28:9-10.
However, they were blameless because their God-ordained work to prepare sacrifices for the people superseded the law to rest on the Sabbath.
Someone greater than the temple is here, Matthew 12:6 is a clear reference to Christ, Isaiah 66:1-2 / Matthew 12:41-42. Jesus was more glorious than the temple that the Jews honoured above all things on earth, Haggai 2:7-9 / 2 Chronicles 6:18 / Malachi 3:1 / Hebrews 3:3.
Sacrifice was a law of God, Matthew 12:7, however, mercy was a higher law of God. The Pharisees in their legal understanding and application of the law could not understand this principle concerning the laws of God Hosea 6:6 / Micah 6:6-8.
Jesus here attacks the judgmental attitudes of the Pharisees that motivated them to criticise the plucking of the grain. The One who was in their midst was the One who had authority over the Sabbath. Jesus was of the triune God who instituted the Sabbath. Mark records that Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, Mark 2:27.
He explained that God had intended for the Sabbath command to provide relief for man, not be an additional burden. The Sabbath was made for the benefit of man, for on the Sabbath men were to rest from their labours, Exodus 20:11. The Pharisees thought that man was made for the Sabbath.
In other words, they believed that God made the Sabbath a holy day of worship in order that men renew their spiritual life and worship to God on this day.
However, God intended it to be a day of rest for man, Exodus 20:10-11. It was thus a law that was established for the physical well-being of man.
Jesus proclaimed His authority over the Sabbath saying that He Himself was Lord of the Sabbath, Mark 2:27-28. If Jesus created the Sabbath, surely, He knew what activities violated it.
The Sabbath was supposed to be a day of blessings and relaxation, free from work but the Jews had turned into a bunch of rules which consisted of dos and don’ts, and with over 613 laws, they always found a way around them.
In reference to the nation of Israel, the Sabbath was given to national Israel as a sign between God and the nation of Israel. When the Old Testament law was abolished, the Sabbath law was also taken away, Colossians 2:16.
The events recorded here and in Matthew 12:9-10 took place on another Sabbath than the one in the previous verses, Mark 3:1-5 / John 5:10 / John 7:23.
The legalistic Pharisees are here more concerned over the violation of their Sabbath laws than the healing of this man. Such manifests the hypocrisy of religion that is based on an outward manifestation of a legal presentation of religiosity without concentration on the heart for spiritual change.
The Pharisees here seek another opportunity to accuse Jesus of violating their laws of the Sabbath, Mark 7:6-9. They do such in order to accuse Him before the people that He violates the law. Mark records that at this time Jesus was angered by their hardened hearts, Mark 3:5.
It seems that they didn’t doubt that Jesus could miraculously heal the withered hand. They wanted to see if He would do such on the Sabbath. If He did such work on the Sabbath, then they could accuse Him of working against their laws of the Sabbath.
The real conflict here is between the legal and earthly interests of the Pharisees as opposed to the human interests of Jesus. Jesus pointed out that if the Pharisees’ material interests were in danger on the Sabbath, they would do what was necessary to rescue a sheep. However, they were here critical of Jesus because of His human interest in healing on the Sabbath.
By asking, ‘is it lawful’? Jesus was saying that it was always right to do good, Galatians 6:10. It was simply right to do good on the Sabbath in reference to human interests because men are more important than sheep, Matthew 12:11-12.
Notice Mark 3:3, Jesus asks the man ‘to stand up in front of everyone’, Jesus wanted to make a point to these teachers of the Law, He didn’t hide what He was doing.
Jesus then told him to stretch his hand out. Apparently, He neither touched him nor did any other physical thing, He merely asked the man to reach his hand out. When he did, it was healed. Jesus’ critics were furious and began plotting to assassinate Him.
In Mark 3:4 Jesus asked His opponents, ‘should one save a life or kill on the Sabbath?’ They chose not to reply, which showed that they were not interested in truth, but only wanted to discredit Him.
It is always easy to find fault, but it’s much harder to give a positive recommendation. Normally Christ healed men by laying His hands on them or performing some other physical sign.
If He had accompanied the healing by physical action, in this case, they would have attacked Him for doing medical work on the Sabbath, something contrary to their tradition.
This time, however, Jesus did nothing, He merely told the man to reach his hand out. Mark 3:5. Even Jesus’ enemies didn’t believe it wrong to stretch out your hand on the Sabbath. Thus, He outsmarted His opponents and they were furious.
When a man in an argument begins to get angry, it is a sure sign that he is losing. As it turned out, Jesus’ enemies are the ones who plotted to kill on the Sabbath, because He had done good. The Pharisees and the Herodians who actually were enemies of each other, joined forces to get rid of Jesus.
The Pharisee’s actions show the hardness of heart of those who profess a legal-oriented religion. The Pharisees cared nothing for the man with the withered hand.
Their concern was for their doctrinal strictness in keeping their traditions in reference to the keeping of the Sabbath. By upholding their legal practices in reference to the Sabbath they were maintaining their arrogant positions of leadership among the people.
At this time in the controversy between Jesus and the religious leaders, the tension begins to grow. The Pharisees at this time in the ministry of Jesus schemed to remove Jesus, Luke 6:11.
He was in competition with their positions of leadership, their hypocritical lives and inconsistent beliefs. They were infuriated because He manifested the inconsistencies of their theology and the callousness of their hearts.
Because these religious leaders couldn’t consistently argue with Jesus through correct reasoning from the Old Testament Scriptures, they were frustrated to the point of killing Him.
Religions that are developed with an emphasis on outward appearances and ceremonial worship are often hypocritical in the sense that people can be members of such religions without changed hearts.
The religious leaders in this context manifested the hypocrisy of such religions by planning evil when professing a form of righteousness, Mark 3:6 / Luke 6:11 / John 5:18 / John 10:39 John 11:53.
Jesus needed to train apprentices to represent Him and preach the Gospel after His departure. He chose twelve of His followers for that job. The twelve He chose were an unlikely bunch, included were four fishermen, a tax collector, a revolutionary, Simon the ‘Zealot’, a sceptic, Thomas, and a traitor, Judas Iscariot. Jesus proved that He could work with and make something out of even the most unpromising material.
Luke gives us a fuller account of the event, where we find the addition of very important facts. The major event recorded by Mark is ‘the choosing of the twelve’ and the listing of their names, and we may be excused for thinking that the brevity of Mark’s account is rather surprising, considering the importance of the occasion.
Mark 3:13 says that Jesus ‘went up to a mountain’, but doesn’t mention that His purpose, which Luke reveals, it was ‘to pray’. He tells us, in Mark 6:12 that, before Jesus chose these twelve men, He spent the night alone on the mountain in prayer to God. Please note He wasn’t talking all night long! Effective prayer is a two-way street, it involves both speaking and listening.
The next day He called His disciples to Him and He revealed the names of the twelve men who were later to be called ‘Apostles’, and we cannot avoid thinking that the night spent in prayer had something to do with His choice.
Another thought-provoking thought is that to some of them He gave new names. Simon, He named Peter in Greek ‘Petros’ which is masculine. It’s important to notice this, because Jesus later said, ‘Upon this ‘petra’, feminine, I will build My church’.
James and John were named ‘Boanerges’, ‘sons of thunder’, which may be a reference to some early stage in their lives when they were known to have had a reputation that they had already outgrown, or, which the Lord knew they would outgrow!
There was an occasion, as they travelled with Jesus, when the temper suggested by this name, flashed out. Travelling in Samaria, the anger of the two brothers showed when a Samaritan village wouldn’t give Jesus hospitality for the night because he was a Jew, they reacted angrily. ‘Lord, shall we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ Luke 9:54.
The re-naming of these men reveals the fact that the Lord knows what we are and what we can become. I wonder if He has another name for each one of us and what that name might be?
These three men, Peter James and John, were the three who were closest to Jesus, whom Jesus took with Him on very special occasions.
1. The house of Jairus, whose daughter He brought back to life.
2. His transfiguration,
3. The garden of Gethsemane.
The very fact that Jesus chose them, suggests that, although He was the Son of God, in His humanity, He felt the need for companionship and support. Indeed, the Scriptures tell us that there were several reasons why in Mark 3:14-15.
He chose these twelve.
1. To be with Him.
2. That He might send them out to preach.
3. To have the power to perform miracles of healing.
He ‘ordained’ them and gave them power and authority. There are several Greek words for ‘ordain’ so that it has several shades of meaning, ‘to appoint; to set in place; to point out; to indicate by pointing the finger.’
Note the difference between power and authority. It’s possible for a person to have ‘power’, but lack the ‘authority’ to use it. Jesus gave the men whom He chose power and the authority to exercise it.
Please note this is not the same event we have recorded in Matthew, on that occasion, Jesus spoke on ‘on a mountainside’, Matthew 5:1.
To be ‘poor’ or ‘poor in spirit’, Matthew 5:3, is to feel a deep sense of spiritual poverty. It is to empty ourselves and understand our insignificance in comparison to our Almighty God, Philippians 2:3-4.
To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to have a state of mind that is lowly and reverent before Him. It is to be full of humility, not pride, Luke 18:9-14.
It is impossible to be ‘poor in spirit’ until we realise our spiritual needs. As long as a person delights in sin, they won’t be ‘poor in spirit,’ and they won’t seek the Saviour since they don’t feel a necessity for Him, Matthew 9:12.
To be ‘poor in spirit’ is a joyful condition because when we become aware of our sinfulness and hopelessness without God, we will seek the ‘kingdom of heaven’ and find hope therein.
Jesus declared that those who hunger, that is, hunger for righteousness, Matthew 5:6, feel an intense desire for righteousness, that which is right or just shall obtain it.
Hungering and thirsting after righteousness is an attitude, a frame of mind, which realises God’s Word, is ‘righteousness’, Psalm 119:172. It is spiritual food that is needed to grow stronger, 1 Peter 2:2 / Matthew 4:4.
What type of person doesn’t get hungry or thirsty physically? The person who is either sick or dead! The same is true spiritually. If a person doesn’t have a strong desire to grow spiritually and feed on God’s Word daily, then they are either spiritually sick or dead, 1 Corinthians 11:30. May those who desire righteousness do so like a deer pants for water, Psalm 42:1-2.
If we yearn to be ‘filled’ and to find true, lasting joy, we must put the kingdom of God first and seek His righteousness, Matthew 6:33.
Luke uses the word, ‘weep’, while Matthew uses the word ‘mourn,’ Matthew 5:4. In the Greek language, the strongest word for ‘mourn’ is used here.
This term indicates a type of mourning that cannot be hidden. The blessing here is not upon all who mourn, those with worldly sorrow would be excluded, 2 Corinthians 7:10.
Those who mourn because of sin and consequently repent are the ones who will be blessed, James 4:8-10. Such a person mourns over sin from a tender conscience and broken heart, realising that it’s their own sin that separates them from God spiritually, Isaiah 59:1-2.
Luke uses the word ‘laugh’, while Matthew uses the word ‘comforted’, Matthew 5:4. After we realise our sinfulness, we can be ‘comforted’ by the discovery and acceptance of God’s pardon, made possible by obedience to the saving Gospel, Romans 1:16 / Romans 6:17.
To be ‘persecuted for righteousness’ sake’ Matthew 5:10, is to suffer at the hands of others for doing right. This is much different than being punished for wrongdoing, 1 Peter 4:12-16.
It should be realised that in order to maintain peace, we must sometimes suffer persecution. If we are faithful to the Lord, we should expect persecution, 2 Timothy 3:12 / John 15:18-20.
We should react to persecution as Christ did. He didn’t retaliate but denied Himself. He didn’t develop grudges but had a spirit of forgiveness.
He didn’t become depressed but grew stronger and closer to His Father. Those who suffer because of their loyalty to the kingdom of heaven are blessed by being bound more closely to the kingdom for which they suffer.
The joy in being persecuted is found when we realise, that we are suffering for the Name of Christ, Acts 5:41 / Acts 16:22-25. All who suffer as faithful servants of the Lord should ‘leap for joy’, Luke 6:23.
Though Christians should live joyfully here on Earth, their ultimate reward will be ‘in heaven,’ Matthew 5:11-12. Let it always be remembered that the suffering experienced here is nothing in comparison to the bliss God has in store for His faithful children, Romans 8:18.
Also, Christians should find comfort and strength in the example of the prophets and the Christ, 1 Peter 2:21-24. Understanding that persecution for righteousness’ sake is not a sign of God’s disfavour.
Persecution should be embraced, not resisted, as a way to further develop our character through suffering, James 1:2-4 / Romans 5:3-5.
Jesus now gives us four woes.
1. The rich have already been comforted.
2. The well-fed will go hungry.
3. Those who laugh will mourn and weep.
4. Those who are well spoken of, will be treated like false prophets.
These four woes are for those who have materialistically satisfied themselves at the expense of others. The wealthy had collected a lot of riches but forgot about the basic needs of their fellow man, James 5:1-6.
They were obsessed with materialistic living and ate the finest food, and rejoiced at the same time, all of which was done without a second thought for the poor around them, Proverbs 14:13 / James 4:9.
They loved it when people spoke well of them, in terms of what they taught, and just like their ancestors before them, they pretend to be of God, but they delivered their own doctrines as the truth of God, and who accommodated themselves to the desires of the people.
Boles, in his commentary, says the following.
‘These words were not the expression of anger, but lamentation and warning. ‘Woe unto you,’ or ‘alas for you!’ Jesus is not uttering condemnation as a judge, but as the great Teacher and Prophet, he declares the miserable condition of certain classes and warns them against it.’
The Old Testament law nowhere stated that they should ‘hate his enemies.’ This was a false interpretation by the Jews, Leviticus 19:17-18.
Therefore, Jesus doesn’t here argue against the Old Testament law, but against those who falsely interpret it for their own personal desires. The principle of loving our neighbour fulfils all that the law would command concerning our duty toward our fellow man, Matthew 22:35-40.
The principle of loving our enemies is valid and binding upon everyone who follows Christ. There’s no room in the Christian’s heart, especially since they’ve had their sins forgiven, to have hatred towards anyone.
The kind of love used in our text doesn’t necessarily refer to sentimental and affectionate love as we have towards our own family members.
The kind of love meant here is the love manifested by God Himself in that He sends rain on the good and evil, etc. The implication is that Christians should treat their enemies with fairness and impartiality, doing unto them as they would desire people should do unto themselves.
Underlying these verses is the challenge that Christians should ‘be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,’ Matthew 5:48. That’s what it’s really all about, that Christians should be like the pure and holy God whom we are taught to worship through Christ.
God loves sinners, even dying for them while they were yet in sin, so, Christians should love all men, sinners included, even their own personal enemies!
To live the other way is to be no better than a publican, the gatherer of the Roman taxes and, in the Jewish dictionary, that was about as low as a man could get!
The character that Jesus has just explained identifies those who are of the spirit of the Father, and thus, sons of the Father. God’s love is impartial, He loved us when we were His enemies, Romans 5:8.
Christ here pronounced a new and thrilling principle to take the place of the old proverb that ‘One rotten apple will spoil a barrel of good apples!’ That is, ‘One good apple can heal a barrel of rotten apples!’
Only Christ could have revealed such an exciting new and effective doctrine as this. A true heart isn’t one of malice or hate, hearts of malice and hate, identify those individuals who are of the world. Luke adds here that we should do good to and pray for our enemies.
There is no reward in a love that acts out of selfish motives to do something for others for the purpose of receiving something in return, Luke 6:27-28.
True love must be unconditional, it mustn’t seek a reward. These Jews worked as tax collectors for the Roman government, and thus, were despised by the Jews. They were allowed to take a portion of the taxes that they collected.
If we embrace only those of his approval, then there is no true manifestation of love. The disciples’ greetings must extend beyond what the world would do to and for itself. God’s people are to be different in that they are disciples who unconditionally love others.
They are expected by God to do more than those who are outside a covenant relationship with God. Jesus establishes a needed high standard of conduct in order that His disciples be made aware of their need for salvation and their need to struggle in order to have the kingdom reign of Jesus within them.
The word ‘perfect’, Matthew 5:48, can refer only to one who is complete as a result of God’s accredited righteousness that results from His grace. Christians aren’t perfect in behaviour but are perfect in Christ through the blood of Jesus, Colossians 1:28 / Colossians 1:28.
In what way would Jesus’ teaching on loving and praying for our enemies help us in our outreach efforts? It certainly tells us that we will have enemies and we will be persecuted at times, but it also teaches us to continue to love them and pray for them.
Remember that prayer may not change their attitude towards you, but it may change your attitude towards them, John 15:18-21.
Jesus here teaches against the legalistic judging that the Pharisees were practising, their self-righteous legal system of doctrine moved them to be critical of others who didn’t agree with them on every point of their theology.
The word ‘judge’ used here is the Greek word, ‘krino’ which is used in places like John 12:48 / Acts 17:31 / 2 Timothy 4:1. The use of the word, ‘judge’ therefore is speaking about the kind of judging that speaks of someone’s salvation, or the lack of it, in others. Christians shouldn’t practice this kind of judging, after all, not even Christ did this while He was on earth, John 12:47.
The problem with judging someone in terms of their salvation is sinful because God is the judge and He knows people’s hearts and motives better than anyone, and He has a date set for this kind of judging, 1 Corinthians 4:4-5.
Notice that Luke tells us that we shouldn’t judge or condemn but ‘forgive’, why? Because we have been forgiven and we need forgiveness as much as the next person and who are we to withhold forgiveness from others, when we needed it so much ourselves? Matthew 18:21-35.
Notice also that Luke tells us to ‘give’. It’s the nature of godly people to behave as God. God is a giver, and so, His people should give. Those who love their brothers and sisters in Christ don’t stand in judgment over them.
The thrust of what Jesus states here is that we will be dealt with in final judgment by God in the same manner by which we treat our fellow man, James 2:12-13.
Therefore, when we measure mercy to others, God will in turn measure mercy to us. That’s the biggest problem with this kind of judging, it’s judging with condemnation attached. In other words, they become the judge, juror and jailor.
Luke also adds a parable which basically means, that those who are spiritually dead can’t lead anyone onto a spiritual life, because both are spiritually blind. No one can lead above and beyond his own spiritual stature.
Those who disciple others will lead them to be like themselves. If the teacher is spiritually blind, the student will become like his teacher, spiritually blind too, John 13:16 / John 15:20.
We must always look at others with an attitude of love, otherwise, legalism moves us to be critical and unmerciful in judgment concerning another’s beliefs and life. God will severely judge those who harbour such attitudes toward our fellow man, Matthew 18:21-35.
The plank in your own eye expresses the hypocritical mistake of the legalistic judge who considers themselves righteous while judging the faults of another in comparison to their own self-righteousness.
Their system of religion moves them to be judgmental of small matters in the lives of others who don’t conform to their regimented beliefs, while at the same time there is a major flaw in their own life.
This is basically a picture of a person who ignores his own grievous sins while trying to correct the relatively minor shortcomings of another.
The speck of dust and the plank represent the inequality between that which is tiny, insignificant, almost invisible, and that which is obvious, flagrant, and obtrusive.
The legal system of judgment by which the faultfinder lives makes it impossible for them to be an objective judge of others. For us to correctly evaluate others, we must first recognise our own sinful state, Galatians 6:1. We must live our life by the same standard by which we look at others.
Now don’t miss this important point here, just because someone has a speck of dust in their eye, doesn’t mean they can ignore it, Jesus says it still needs to be removed, and this is done by admitting that we have faults, and we need forgiveness.
This also implies that Christians can judge other Christians as long as it’s done humbly, lovingly, with the vest interests of their brother or sister in mind but not with hypocritical condemnation.
If we really wanted to help our brother or sister, our first stop is to remove the plank from our own eye. This means that we should prepare ourselves by acknowledging our own sins and then we’re in a better position to help others come to an acknowledgement of their own sins, 1 John 1:8-10.
Now, what did Jesus mean when He said, ‘Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.’?
It simply means that the most holy things ought not to be offered indiscriminately to all persons, the dogs and swine refer to people who are mean and vicious and who have no desire to apprehend spiritual things.
When the precious spiritual truths of love and mercy are extended toward the ruthless and hard-hearted, they are received with criticism and mockery.
How someone receives the pearls of truth determines his true nature. Once a vicious nature is discovered, then it’s useless to offer opportunity by continual preaching and teaching the precious truths to the one who continually rejects such.
Why would judging our brothers and sisters condemningly damage our outreach efforts? It gives the impression that some are more ‘righteous’ than others, it gives the impression that others need ‘more’ forgiveness than others, Romans 3:10 / Romans 3:23.
Jesus here speaks about what comes out of our hearts, in other words, a person behaves according to what they have in their heart. If they have evil in their heart, then they will act will evil intentions, however, if they have good in their heart, then they will act with good intentions, Galatians 5:13-14.
Matthew gives us a little more detail here in Matthew 7:15-20. The term ‘prophets’ technically only includes those who claim inspiration, though practically speaking it would include any teacher who claims to be delivering a message from deity, either directly via inspiration or indirectly via the Scriptures.
Consequently, Jesus’ warning should be considered as potentially applicable to any who claims to teach God’s ways to anyone, myself included.
A false teacher should be characterised as one whose teachings do not harmonise with God’s Word and as one who is unwilling to repent of their erroneous views when brought to their attention.
Although there are many teachers with an outward demeanour of innocence and gentleness, Jesus says that some of them are ravenous wolves inwardly, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
They will devour many souls, leading themselves and others down the pathway to destruction, 2 Peter 2:1-3. But, how can one distinguish between a sheep and a wolf in sheep’s clothing, since their appearance is essentially the same?
The answer is simple, we must examine their ‘fruit’! That is, we must examine their actions and their teachings carefully and determine if such is in harmony with God’s Word or not.
We must make judgments of this sort all the time. Even at this very moment, you should be examining my words and judging whether or not I am writing the truth, Acts 17:11.
It’s entirely possible to have a good tree and a bad tree that look nearly identical in trunk, limbs, and leaves, yet they differ in the quality of fruit they produce. This is why we must be ‘fruit inspectors.’ And, when one inspects ‘fruit,’ we must use God’s standard for determining what is good, Galatians 5:22-23.
Eventually, the hypocrisy of all false teachers will be exposed by those who observe them carefully. Such must be true because, as the Lord declared, ‘a bad tree bears bad fruit’.
It would be unwise to interpret Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:18 in an absolute way. Surely there are good trees physically that may occasionally produce a bad piece of fruit. Likewise, it would seem reasonable to suggest that a bad tree might occasionally produce a good piece of fruit.
Jesus’ point should be viewed as a general truth. Good trees are the ones that generally produce good fruit. If a tree is producing a quantity of bad fruit, then that tree itself cannot be good. The same is true with people.
The Scriptures teach elsewhere that the duty of man is to fear God and obey Him, Ecclesiastes 12:13. Fulfilling this duty is synonymous with bearing good fruit. If we aren’t fulfilling the duty for which we were created, God will eventually throw us into the eternal fire.
God calls us to be fruit inspectors. While we have no right to sentence and condemn others, Matthew 7:1, we are to discern or judge whether or not a person is a false teacher.
We should not blindly accept or support any spiritual idea or religious person. We must carefully test the fruit and hold fast to that which is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
And, may we realise that others are examining the fruit we produce! If we’re a ‘good tree’, keep producing for the Lord! If we’re a ‘bad tree’, repent while we still can, for the axe of God’s judgment and the fire of His wrath are approaching!
Jesus’ question about calling Him ‘Lord, Lord, but don’t’ do what He says’ is elaborated more in Matthew 7:21-23.
I wonder how many people are going to come up before the Lord’s counter, expecting to get into heaven even though they are not truly prepared.
Many feel they are right with God, but they make sincere yet big mistakes in their life choices, expecting God to make an exception for them. Jesus, as He neared the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount, delivered some hard words relating to this theme.
Jesus spoke the truth plainly, didn’t He? It’s not enough just to cry out, ‘Lord, Lord!’ We must do the will of the heavenly Father if we hope to be saved!
These verses clearly disprove the notion of salvation by faith only, though many denominations teach such. We must obey the will of the heavenly Father to the best of our ability, Luke 6:46.
There are ‘many’, Matthew 7:13, who will try to rationalise their way into heaven by listing certain accomplishments or acts of service, but it won’t work.
The problem ultimately is that the Lord doesn’t know them! In spite of the fact that they have done some good deeds, they are guilty of practising sinful behaviour, ‘lawlessness’!
They are not right before God in taking the broad path that leads to destruction. They feel that they deserve salvation for certain acts of service, even though they haven’t genuinely been obedient.
Many religious people believe in Jesus and have the appearance of righteousness but will end up in hell, even though they feel they should not receive condemnation.
Let it be understood that to prophesy, cast out demons, or do many wonders does not excuse anyone from obeying God’s revealed will! As important as these actions may appear to people, to do these things doesn’t necessarily mean that they are producing good fruit, to obey God is to produce good fruit!
When we stand before God’s throne in judgment, the stakes are of an eternal nature. Those who are sincere but wrong won’t make it into the heavenly abode. We must do everything within our power to ensure that we are not of that number! We must believe and obey God’s word today!
Jesus emphasised the need to be doers and not just hearers, John 13:17 / James 1:22. Human nature is such that most who heard His powerful words that day would walk away impressed but not changed, most would hear but not do.
Thus, Jesus challenged His listeners to action. He wants all to be wise men who hear and do, such can be described as building our ‘house on the rock’.
The hills of Palestine were subject to heavy rainstorms, and even floods, at certain times of the year. Water rushing down the ravines would soon undermine a foundation if the house was built on sand. But, if a house was founded on rock, it was safe from such.
In like manner, anyone who builds their character, i.e., their ‘house’, by hearing and doing what Jesus teaches will stand approved of God on the Day of Judgment, their house will not ‘fall’.
It should be noted that the difference between these two builders is not in their craftsmanship or the quality of materials used. It can be assumed that both men do their best in building their ‘house’. However, the difference is that one chose their foundation wisely, while the other was careless, Luke 6:48 makes this point clear.
When the trials of life come, and they will come, there is only one way to guarantee success, our life must be built on Christ, the only solid foundation, and we must remain faithful to Him, 1 Corinthians 3:11 / Matthew 10:22.
Anyone who builds their life on Jesus Christ by obeying His revealed will, the New Testament, will have nothing to worry about when the floodwaters of life strike.
Jesus ended, not with words of comfort, but with words of tragedy, ‘it fell with a great crash.’ Even a single lost soul is a terrible waste in the eyes of God.