February 14, 2017: Concluding the Sermon on the Mount – Part I

Morning: Matthew 7:13-20; Noon: Exodus 39-40; Evening: Psalm 30

Jesus summation of the Law and Prophets and His encouragement to enter by the narrow gate would appear to mark the conclusion of Jesus message. Inward righteousness manifested by sincere works of obedience create a clear line of division and demarcation between the Scribes and Pharisees and those of Jesus followers. Two warnings, however, are in order before taking those first steps in walking with Jesus.

First, the follower must be aware of the difficulty that lies ahead in walking with Jesus. This has already been shown in part by Jesus contrasting instruction to that of the Pharisees and Scribes, “You have heard it said.” Every addition and/or correction Jesus made to the teaching of the Pharisees brought greater difficulty in entering the kingdom of heaven. Subduing your anger and lust, upholding your every word, and doing good to your enemy all required a greater responsibility for the heavenly seeker than before time. Not to mention that Jesus was asking for a full commitment, for “you cannot serve God and mammon.” Jesus visual imagery of the narrow and wide gate followed by the narrow and broad path paint a perfect picture of Jesus warning. The wide path is easy, but it leads to hell. The narrow path is hard, but it leads to life.

Second, the follower must be aware of deceit. There will be false prophets, i.e. those who claim to speak on behalf of God, but indeed do not. The false prophet would also naturally extend to those who follow their destructive teachings and promote their deceit. They should not be confused with our brothers and sisters in Christ who mistakenly error from time to time, but they should be identified with those who willingly and continually promote false doctrine, even in the face of rebuke and correction. Jesus likens their works to the fruit of the earth. They like the thorn bushes and thistles do not bear good fruit. Like a bad tree, they bear bad fruit. You know them like you know bad trees and weeds. You know them by what their works produce.

What you will need to enter the kingdom with Jesus is courage and wisdom. Canaan’s land was no different. Joshua needed courage, and Moses warned of the false prophet. Israel struggled with both. You will struggle with both. But Jesus reminds you of this in the beatitudes:

Blessed are you and great will be your reward in heaven.

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