Today’s reading: Matthew 7:15-29
In the New Testament reading we read three passages that might sound surprising to our modern ears. Matthew relates to us the teaching of Jesus, in which Jesus clearly delineates that entrance into Heaven is not based on your faith alone but what you DO once you’ve come to faith.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ‘ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. ‘
Build Your House on the Rock
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
What is particularly remarkable about these are verses 21-23. The people who prophesied, drove out demons and did mighty works in Jesus’ name STILL don’t get into Heaven. One can safely presume that these people had at least some faith to do these things. Why then do they not get into heaven? What does this important example teach us?
Jesus tells us the answer in the first verse of the example, line 21. Those who will enter the kingdom or those that, “do the will of the Father.” This is more than the outward appearance of faith. This is more than saying the right words, going to services or even doing good works. It is also more faith alone. It is those that take the time to discern what the will of the father is and then surrendering to it. Those that with open minds and open hearts, take the time to pray and study and discern what the will of the Father for their lives is and then go out and do that. What we know from experience is that this will often take us out of a life of comfort. It’s the difference between the “easy” good work of going on a field trip with the Church group to a soup kitchen once a year versus the “hard” good work of stopping when you see a homeless person on the street to buy them lunch.
Tomorrow: Matthew 8:1-17