This week I’m picking back up with my Getting to Know Jesus study of Matthew. I’m excited to jump back in again to this exciting book! (If you are now joining in this study, you can read Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 1 here.) Now as we resume in the gospel of Matthew, we continue reading the message that Jesus began preaching in chapter 5 and continued in chapter 6. In this chapter, Jesus will bring His message, or sermon, to its conclusion.
Jesus continues teaching the crowds through a series of imperatives, encouragements and warnings.
In chapter 7 verses 1-5, Jesus addresses the problem of judging others, teaching them that each one must first handle his or her own sin before one can try to approach another.
This was very different from what the Jewish people had been taught through Old Testament Law, which entailed a rigid Law (meant to reveal man’s inability to keep it), harsh punishment for offenses and, sometimes, a lack of mercy. But as we read in chapter 5, Jesus has come along to fulfill the Law in the place of man so that we don’t have to. Therefore, Jesus is teaching the crowd a new way to follow the Law…through Him. And while doing so, we get a glimpse of God’s ultimate heart for humanity: grace and salvation through His Son. Jesus is teaching His listeners what grace is. He’s also reminding them what He brought up in chapter 5: sin in the heart.
Jesus reminds the crowds that each one must deal with the sin in his or her own heart, building the case of individual responsibility for your own sin and the need for someone to save you from it.
As we progress in Matthew’s gospel, we grow more burdened while becoming aware of the need of a savior for sin. And we recognize that it is Jesus Himself, the one we’ve been waiting for in this Biblical story to come along and fix the problem of sin and death in the world.
As Jesus teaches the crowds all of these things in chapter 5 -7, Matthew is revealing to the reader that Jesus is now the authority. Jesus is the authority over the Law because, like we read in chapter 5, He has come to fulfill the Law.
By the end of His sermon in verse 29, everyone is astounded at the way Jesus just taught because of one thing: his expression of authority.
It astonished the people.
It astonished them so much that in verse 1 of chapter 8, right after He ends His sermon, it says that “large crowds followed Him.” They knew that there was something special about Him worth pursuing.
Now we know that Jesus is the One we need to pay attention to as we read. His words matter.
As we move along in chapter 7, Jesus encourages the crowd that it’s okay to ask things of God in prayer.
After teaching the people how to pray to God in chapter 6, Jesus now goes a little deeper into the content of one’s prayer (v. 7-11) encouraging them to be open to God about their requests. Perhaps Jesus didn’t want them to hide their true desires from God when they prayed but wanted them to have real communication. Intimate communication. In verse 9-11 specifically, Jesus encourages His listeners to picture God as a loving Father who wants good things for His children so that they will pray to Him from an open and expectant heart. Not from a distant and disconnected heart.
We see that Jesus has now begun a process of reconnecting man back to God in a way that was broken when sin entered the world.
As Jesus progresses in His sermon, about to reach the conclusion, He keeps pointing His listeners to the future. He wants them to consider what is coming and how to best prepare themselves. In verses 13-14, Jesus directs His audience to life beyond the present as He talks about a narrow gate and a wide gate. One leads to life: narrow gate. The other to destruction: wide gate.
Again, we see evidence of the 2 opposing forces we already noticed in chapter 2 as a theme in Matthew’s gospel.
Those on God’s side and those who are not. Those who choose the narrow gate leading to life and those who choose the wide gate leading to destruction.
As Jesus warns of false prophets in verses 15-20, this same theme sits as the undercurrent of discernment.
In verses 16-20, Jesus tells us that we will know them by their fruit. Good fruit. Bad fruit. Those on God’s side. Those not on God’s side.
I just love this theme of the 2 opposing forces running through Matthew. Actually, this theme runs through the whole Bible. But as I’ve been studying this book and noticing this more and more, it’s just so helpful. It really simplifies things. And at the end of the day, we know which side wins and that gives me comfort.
Again, we see this play out in Jesus’ warning found in verses 21-23 that many will come to Him in the end saying, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, etc…and I will announce to them, I never knew you…”. There are those who know God and those who don’t.
People in the church have been scared crazy over this verse for so long.
How do I know I’m saved!? What if Jesus says that to me!?, we think. But we need to realize who this passage was addressed to. Jesus was talking to 1st century Jews who had Old Testament knowledge and a different understanding than we do of what Jesus was actually referring to here.
Jesus is confronting an issue that is referenced in Deuteronomy 13:1-11 & 18:20-22, which addresses the problem of people prophesying falsely in the Lord’s name.
In Deuteronomy 13:1-11, Moses instructs Israel not to listen to anybody who gives signs and wonders because that person is actually trying to convince them to serve other gods. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 also says not to listen to those who prophesy things that don’t ever come to pass or who speak in the name of other gods. So the problem is not that one’s salvation is questionable, the problem is that, in Jesus’ day and before, people had been speaking prophecies in the names of many gods, including God himself, and thus were not actually following God monotheistically. Some just consider Him one of many gods. And some still do this today. So Jesus warns His hearers about this problem. This sets up His listeners to start to consider their own beliefs and convictions.
As Jesus arrives at His sermon’s conclusion, He leaves them with a challenge.
By means of analogy, He causes His listeners to start to think about what they are building their life upon and ultimately who they should trust in.
In verses 24-27, Jesus compares 2 different kinds of people to 2 houses on different kinds of foundations.
Both houses face the exact same threat: rain, flooding, winds and pounding to the house. Yet Jesus describes 2 different results from the threat as a result of their differing foundations. The house with the rock foundation withstands every threat mentioned. But the house with the sandy foundation did not withstand the threats mentioned and collapsed.
In verses 24-29, Jesus makes an “everyone who hears…will be…” statement 2 times. One hears and acts upon it. The other hears and doesn’t act. (The 2 opposing forces continue! : ) Matthew is just too good.)
Then something happens to both as a result of their decision to either act or not act upon the Word of the Lord.
Jesus forewarns exactly what will happen to both in this passage. Those with the rock foundation will endure the threats and those with the sandy foundation will collapse.
But yet, what I see in the world today does not always line up with this.
Why is it that so often, the force against God (sin, evil, etc) seems to win, not collapse?
And why do those on God’s side seem to lose?
If I’m reading this passage and I’m trying to understand it the way 1st century Jews might have heard it, I’m even more confused because the Jews had every reason to believe that God has abandoned them. Sure, it was because of their own rebellion that God interacted with them in the way that He did throughout history as we read it in the Old Testament, but still…this message would not have been very encouraging to 1st century Jews to say the least.
Rather, it would have been a backhanded reminder of all the times that God had turned His back on them and let them collapse because of their own rebellion.
If I were one of them, I would have been asking Jesus, so why is it that we’ve endured collapse after collapse if God is supposed to be our rock foundation? (Yes, I’m inferring that God is the rock foundation that Jesus talks about metaphorically, considering there’s no other better option for it to be than God Himself.) What are you trying to teach us here Jesus?
But if we notice that Jesus words are in the future tense, it changes the way we understand it.
Again, in verses 24 & 26, Jesus says, “everyone who hears…will be…”. Not is. But will. So something has to take place for the “will…” to come to fruition. And that is directly related to each one’s response to what they have heard coupled with God’s sovereignty in enacting final justice in the earth through His Son’s return.
Thus, we will see that what Jesus has promised to each “house,” or kind of person, is meant to take place sometime in the future because it requires a verification of all the future tense “will…” statements that He makes. So it’s prophetic, really. This is why these particular words from Jesus were not just an isolated message for the day he preached it on…it has eternal meaning. Future significance.
Jesus is alluding to the future victory coming to the ones on God’s side, who have aligned themselves with His Son, the Promised One mentioned in Genesis 3:15!
Even though we might not see it right now. God will save. God will redeem.
Those on God’s side will endure and not fall in the end.
Those not on God’s side will fall in the end.
This will happen through resurrection.
We will get to this later in Matthew’s gospel (chapter 28) while letting the promise of Revelation 22 fuel our anticipation of His coming.
Our world may still brew with chaos and injustice and evil and undeserving travesties that really discourage me if I’m honest, but the King is coming…and He will not fail! He will fulfill what verses 24-27 promise will happen to each one. We wait for God to bring all of this about in His timing.
This is what I think Jesus is trying to make clear to them: Remain on the rock despite every threat, for God is indeed the rock who will save from collapse… in the end.
In the end.
So we will keep reading to see how Jesus will accomplish all of this as we progress in this gospel, learning more about His life on earth through the perspective of Matthew, annointed by the Holy Spirit to write this account. May our hearts be open and receptive to God’s Word.
Summary of Matthew 7
Jesus continues on in the message that He began teaching in chapter 5; Jesus declares a series of imperatives to the crowd, first instructing them not to judge others or give to others what they will not appreciate; Jesus encourages the crowd through a series of “keep…” statements, promising them that their efforts will be rewarded; Jesus uses the analogy of a father and son to the relationship one has with God and the heart He has in wanting to bless His children; Jesus tells the crowd to do for others what you want them to do for you; Jesus talks to the crowd about salvation by informing them of the way they should go, informing them of how they can be discerning and informing them of the importance of following God alone; Jesus tells the crowd by means of analogy the consequences of one’s foundation; the crowds are astonished at Jesus’ teachings because of the authority He expresses.
Jesus in Matthew 7
Jesus exhorts the crowd not to judge others (v. 1)
Jesus warns (v. 2)
Jesus informs the crowd that they will be judged in the way they judge others (v. 1-2)
Jesus redirects the listeners to acknowledge their own sin (v. 3-4)
Jesus shows anger (v. 5)
Jesus calls them hypocrites for trying to point out others’ sins before they deal with their own (v. 5)
Jesus is bothered by hypocrisy (v. 5)
Jesus is protective (v. 6)
Jesus instructs them not to present what’s holy to those who will not appreciate it (v. 6)
Jesus is an advocate (v. 7)
Jesus encourages them to persist in asking (v. 7)
Jesus promises that it will be given (v. 7)
Jesus encourages them to persist in searching (v. 7)
Jesus promises you will find it (v. 7)
Jesus encourages them to persist in knocking (v. 7)
Jesus promises them the door will be opened (v. 7)
Jesus informs them that everyone who asks receives (v. 8)
Jesus informs them that the one who searches finds (v. 8)
Jesus informs them that to the one who knocks the door will be opened (v. 8)
Jesus points out a father’s love for his son (v. 9-10)
Jesus reveals the love of the Father, God, as so much greater (v. 11)
Jesus promises that God gives good things to those who ask Him (v. 11)
Jesus teaches selfless love (v. 12)
Jesus tells us which way to choose (v. 13)
Jesus wants us to choose life (v. 13)
Jesus never makes it difficult for us to know what we should choose (v. 13-14)
Jesus leads us (v. 13-14)
Jesus watches over us (v. 15)
Jesus warns us of false prophets (v. 15)
Jesus informs us how to discern (v. 16-20)
Jesus tells us we will know them by their fruit, good or bad (v. 16-20)
Jesus tells us not everyone who says His name will enter the kingdom of Heaven (v. 21-23)
Jesus tells us what we should do (v. 21)
Jesus tells us to do the will of His Father, God (v. 21)
Jesus compares a person who acts upon His words to a house built upon rock foundation (v. 24-25)
Jesus reminds us to act upon His words (v. 24)
Jesus tells us that we won’t collapse if we listen to His words (v. 25)
Jesus compares a person who doesn’t act on His words to a house built on sandy foundation (v. 26-27)
Jesus warns the person who doesn’t act upon His words (v. 26)
Jesus warns of the collapse of a person who ignores His words (v. 26-27)
Jesus astonishes the crowds with His teachings (v. 28)
Jesus teaches with authority (v. 29)
Jesus is bold (v. 29)
Jesus is confident (v. 29)
Jesus doesn’t teach like the scribes of the day (v. 29)
“When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, because He was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.” –Matthew 7:28-29 –
Questions for Today:
- How does Matthew use the theme of the 2 opposing forces in this chapter of his gospel?
- Why are these 2 opposing forces significant to be aware of?
- What does Jesus promise will happen if we listen to His words (verse 24)?
- What is Jesus trying to tell His audience through the 2 foundations/houses analogy?
- How am I getting to know Jesus better through Matthew chapter 7?
“Ever Glorious” by Elevation Worship