JULY 8, 2020
Scripture: Matthew 7
Author: Jeremy Witt
As we begin chapter 7, Jesus again hits the heart and motive rather than simply an action. Jesus’ first public sermon addresses the heart of the matter rather than “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s” as was the practice of the scribes and religious leaders. This speaks to the entire purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth. Sin causes us to turn our hearts away from God, and Jesus came to make fix the problem altogether by destroying sin and death so that our hearts might be made right with the LORD.
In verses 1-6, Jesus addresses our own hearts rather than the outside appearances of others. Verse 3 is the key phrase, “why worry about the speck in your friends’ eye when you have a log in your own?” Again, this was a shot at those religious leaders that heaped rules upon the people that God never intended to give. In case you are not aware, the Torah or Law (Genesis – Deuteronomy) was God-given, but the religious leaders added their own material over the years to clarify what God meant. Ironically, their man-made laws far outnumbered what God gave. From His first sermon to His last, Jesus came and pointed out how mankind had missed the mark and missed the heart of the Law which was being made right with God by faith.
Verses 7-12 can be summed up by “seek the LORD and keep seeking the LORD. Don’t ever stop, and as you go, treat others the way that you want to be treated. This most certainly makes life easier than the rules that they tried to practice. Yep, some of you guessed it. We do the same thing that the religious rulers did, don’t we! We complicate things because we do not keep our eyes on Jesus. It is easy to say and hard to do consistently, so we try to make it attainable by making a checklist of do’s and don’t’s.
In verse 13, Jesus addresses how to go to heaven. He doesn’t make it complicated and says it outright. The way is hard, and few will choose that difficult, narrow way. Following Jesus goes against the world. It is tiring to live differently. It is difficult at times to keep our eyes on Him and not our circumstances or what others are doing. Our flesh wants to live like the world. When we live differently, we are isolated (lonely) and we may have to go at it alone.
This is another reason why we need each other as Christ-followers. We need the church. It is far easier to climb a mountain with others so that they can help to help pick you up, pull you up, etc. than it is to go at it alone. The trail up the mountain is narrow, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be alone. Insert an advertisement for Life groups and small, accountability groups.
Verses 21-27 hit hard. There are some who think that they are right with God and they are not. There will be some who “prophesied in Your Name and cast out demons” who Jesus does not know. Honestly, this is scary to me. Insert a word from Sunday’s sermon on fear. We must fear the LORD. We can’t base things on our way of thinking, but we must base it upon His Words and His Ways. Again, this is scary. This is why we must continue seeking Him, reading His Word. We must be trusting Him and not in ourselves. We must be relying on Him and not what we think or understand.
The implications of the Sermon on the Mount are quite numerous. Jesus was different than what the people were used to, and He is different than what we are used to. He cares about our hearts and our motives rather than just outside appearances. He tells us that following Him is hard and only a few will do it. He doesn’t hide the difficulty from us. He wants us to evaluate our own lives rather than others. He wants us to compare ourselves to Him rather than others. He wants us to seek after Him, look for Him, and knock on doors striving to find Him. This will be our lifelong journey of faith.
As verses 28-29, tells us how amazed the people were with Jesus’ teaching in comparison to their religious teachers. He taught and made it plain. The question was for the crowd then exactly the same as it is for us today. Will we follow and be wise and build our lives upon the rock (verse 24), or will be turned away and build our lives upon the sand?