Title: The Sermon on the Mount part 8
Scriptures to Read: Read Matthew 7:13-29
Yeshua finishes His teaching by giving special instructions for those seeking the kind of righteousness they will need to enter into the Kingdom. There are four warnings, each of which deals with a contrasting pair.
Two Ways (Matthew 7:13-14)
There are two ways by which one could try to enter into the Kingdom.
1. The Wide Way is the Pharisaic Way. It is a wide road because they taught that all Israel has a share in the age to come. But the wide road of Pharisaism will not lead to righteousness, it will lead to destruction.
2. The narrow Way is the Messiah’s way. It is the standard of righteousness demanded by the Mosaic Law, which now included accepting Jesus to be the Messianic King.
Two Trees (Matthew 7:15-20, Luke 6:43-49)
The second pair is the two trees. Each interpretation of the Law will produce its own kind of fruit.
1. Bad fruit or fruitlessness. To follow the Pharisaic interpretation of the righteousness of the Law, which was only external conformity, will produce bad fruit or fruitlessness. False prophets may say many things, but there is no good fruit involved.
2. Good fruit or fruitfulness. To follow the Messiah’s interpretation of the Law, which had to do with internal conformity, will lead to external conformity and will produce good fruit.
Two Professions (Matthew 7:21-23)
There are two professions and both may use the name of the Messiah. When Judgment Day comes, many will make a profession: “Did we not prophesy by your name, and by your name cast out demons, and by your name do many mighty works?” Here He points out that not everybody who says to Him “Lord, Lord” is actually a believer. Often these people use the name of Jesus, but it is a counterfeit Jesus. Notice what they are able to accomplish in the name of a counterfeit Jesus:
• Able to prophesy events which came to pass
• They cast out demons
• They did many mighty works such as miracles and healings
Yet He will say to them in that day “I never knew you” which proves that they were never believers to begin with. What this principle shows for them, and also for us today is that the existence of the miraculous does not prove it is the work of God because Satan can duplicate many of these things. For example, some of the miracles of Moses were duplicated by the Egyptian magicians. Where did they get their power from? Not from God, but from Satan. And so when Moses changed water into blood, they did the same thing. When Moses brought frogs up from the dust of the ground, they did the same thing. At that point Egypt did not need any more frogs. But the principle is that while Satan can duplicate a divine miracle, he cannot remove a divine miracle. If the magician wanted to show his superiority, he should have removed the frogs that Moses brought up. Instead they simply created more frogs which the Egyptians had to suffer from. At that point I suspect the Egyptians were ready to croak themselves. People who go after experience and not after the text of the Word of God are open to deception.
So there will be two professions:
1. Those with the mere external ability to do great things.
2. Those who really have internal regeneration, who stress consistency with the Word of God, and are doing the will of God the Father.
Also notice He says, “depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” The Pharisees, by means of all their oral laws, were in fact practicing lawlessness! And some of their laws, as we shall see in a later section, actually enabled them to circumvent the Law of Moses.
Two Builders (Matthew 7:24-27)
In this final pair, Yeshua presented the Jewish people with a choice:
1. They could continue building on the Pharisaic interpretation of the Law, but that would be building on a foundation of sand. The structure built on that foundation would collapse, and they would fail to enter the Kingdom. Or, on the other hand
2. They could build upon the Messiah’s interpretation of the standard of righteousness that the Law demanded, and that would be building on the solid foundation of rock. These are the ones who will attain the righteousness that the Law demanded, and they are the ones who will enter into the Messianic Kingdom.
During the sermon he has spelled out his interpretation of the Law in contrast to the Pharisaic interpretation. Now the people must make a choice.
The Conclusion (Matthew 7:28-29)
The crowds recognised the obvious contrast between His teaching and that of the Pharisees. They recognised two things.
1. First, He taught in a different manner than the Pharisees did. When the Pharisees taught they always quoted previous rabbinic authorities. Jesus, however, quoted no rabbi. He taught as one having the authority to interpret the Law and did not base His teaching on previous rabbinic teaching. As the Messiah who gave that law, He would certainly have that authority.
2. Secondly, the crowds also recognised that there was a difference in content. They were amazed at His teaching. They clearly understood exactly what He said and where He differed from the scribes and Pharisees.
The Sermon on the Mount as a unit
The sermon on the Mount is the Messiah’s interpretation of the true righteousness of the Law contrasted with the Pharisaic interpretation of the righteousness of the Law. It is also Jesus’ public rejection of the authority of the oral law in Pharisaism. He will fulfil the Mosaic Law down to every jot and tittle but He has no intention of fulfilling the Pharisaic interpretation of the Law. And this rejection of their Pharisaic Judaism will lead to the Pharisees’ official rejection of Jesus’ messianic claims.