Matthew 7:24-27 24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!”
Thoughts on Today’s Homily
In the wake of the floods in our city and state this week, this parable is particularly arresting. This passage is poignantly connected to the previous passage/teachings. Jesus had taught that those who enter the kingdom by the narrow gate will experience lives marked by calamity and difficulty (Matthew 7:13-14). These are ones who know Jesus relationally and DO the will of the Father (Matthew 7:21-23). Here Jesus teaches followers how to endure the trials to come, on what to build their lives as disciples. He also reveals the consequences of failing to heed his words.
Jesus notably uses at least two literary devices: repetition and compare/contrast. First, Jesus repeats the Greek verbs translated “hear(s)” and “does” (alt. “practices”). This sets up the contrast.
Case one “hears” AND “puts into practice” the object: Jesus words (teachings). In this parable, the foundation (rock) which enables ones to endure the storms of life is not Jesus himself, but rather, obedience to the teachings of Jesus (becoming a practitioner).
Case two “hears” BUT “does NOT put into practice” the object: Jesus words (teachings). Those who are merely hearers, according to James 1:22, are self-deceived. When the torrential rains of persecution, pain, and difficulty pour down, utter destruction befalls them; they have built their lives on a shoddy foundation. They are fools, unprepared for the calamity ahead.
This parable illustrates the importance of obedience to the teachings of Christ which enables followers to weather the relentless storms of life. Those who do not obey the words of Jesus are fools that will experience the walls of life crashing in upon them: utter destruction and ruin.
Matthew 7:15-23 “15 Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruit. 21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’”
Thoughts on Today’s Homily
- False prophets exist
- False prophets are disguised as followers of Christ (sheep OUTWARDLY)
- False prophets are vicious, ferocious wolves (INWARDLY) that mislead, misguide (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Recognizing false prophets:
- We recognize false prophets by their fruit
- Outward actions reveal the inward reality
- Good fruit = SHEEP
- Bad fruit = WOLVES
False prophets will face judgment (cut down thrown into the fire) and will be fully exposed for what they are before the judgment seat of Christ (19). From this premise of judging false prophets by their fruit, Jesus extends this line of thinking to those in general: despite the miraculous acts done in the NAME of Christ (i.e. prophecy, exorcism, miracles), one’s who do not do the will of the Father (importance of loving obedience) do not KNOW Christ and will be cast away as lawbreakers.
Matthew 7:13-14 “13Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it!”
Thoughts on Today’s Homily
A parable concerning the kingdom of God. Concept of the city gate: Jerusalem had wide and narrow gates to the city with which the Jewish listeners would be familiar. Possibly, particular gates would have been brought to mind as Jesus told this parable. The picture is that of two gates by which one may enter, two paths/roads by which one may travel, and two destinations to which each path would ultimately lead. One gate is wide and the road is spacious, easy traveling. The other gate is narrow and the road is fraught with peril and difficulty.
If we were standing before the two gates, what would we see?
We’d see a majority of the people choosing the wide gate with easy traveling while only a few choose the narrow gate fraught with difficulty. I think I’d be tempted to follow the masses due to my tendency to go along with the crowd coupled with my disdain for pain. When standing before the two gates, one’s understanding of what lies ahead is limited to what is before one’s site; however, Jesus gives us a view to the destination: destruction (wide gate/path) or life (narrow gate/path). And He exhorts us to enter the kingdom of God through the narrow gate and experience LIFE!
This parable is a view to the reality of life in the kingdom of God following our King:
- We enter the kingdom of God through the narrow gate (justification in Christ the cruciform King – cf. John 10:7-10)
- We live the cruciform life in the kingdom following our cruciform King (sanctification in Christ – cf. Acts 14:21-22)
- We experience the culmination of our cruciform lives with the cruciform King: LIFE (glorification in Christ – cf. Matthew 19:29)
This illustration accurately presents salvation past, present, and future in and through Christ as a difficult road that leads to life. This is what the disciples were to teach others.
Wide gate -> Path: easy traveling -> Destination: DESTRUCTION
Narrow gate -> Path: difficult traveling -> Destination: LIFE