Living For God and Authentic Christianity (Matt 7:13-27)

Bible Passage: Matthew 7:13-27

Jesus finishes his sermon with a call to put what he has said into practice. Through four visual metaphors, Jesus sets before us two different ways of responding to his words – one that leads to life and another that leads to destruction. Through each of the pictures, Jesus teaches something else about the path that leads to life.

The Narrow Gate: The first image (v13-14) is of a wide and narrow gate leading to an easy and a hard road respectively. Jesus is communicating the the path to life is narrow and difficult. By simply going along with the prevailing opinions of those around us it is easy to miss the way. Jesus is calling us to a way that is different from those around us, and the whole sermon has been spelling out this way (often by contrast with the popular alternatives that others would choose instead).

The Fruitful Tree: The second image (v15-20) is of trees bearing good and bad fruit. Jesus’ point is that the fruit that is shown on the outside will always be a reflection of what is going on beneath the surface. Living out the Sermon on the Mount externally without being transformed internally is impossible. God wants to do a deep work on our hearts that goes all the way down and it is only when this happens that we will bear the fruit that shows we are on the path of life.

Nominal Christianity: In the third section (v21-23), Jesus warns that there will be some people who thought they were on the path of life but were not. They might call Jesus ‘Lord, Lord’ (i.e. they have a nominal allegiance to him – so simply calling ourselves Christians is not enough). They will also highlight the things they have done for God, and yet Jesus never knew them. The key is that they are not doing the will of the Father. Jesus isn’t suggesting that true Christians will never stumble (see 6:12) but there is a difference between a sincere life of obedience with slip-ups on the way and a life of hypocrisy where the will of God was never taken seriously.

The House on the Rock: The final image (v24-27) shows the consequences of the different paths. The image is two houses built on different foundations – the rock representing living out the teaching of Jesus and the sand representing hearing but not doing. Both houses face a storm, but only one stands. It is not enough to hear the teaching of Jesus and nod along with it. The key question for everyone who has heard this sermon is ‘what are you going to do with what you have heard?’

Potential Applications:

  • This is a sobering passage that presents an authentic Christianity as well as a ‘shadow Christianity’. It forces us all to reflect on which path we are on and what fruit we are bearing.
  • It could also be a moment for those who are not Christians to consider how they will respond to the teachings of Jesus and whether they will turn to him in repentance and faith.
  • Perhaps it is a good moment to recap some of the things Jesus has taught in the sermon and allow space for people to reflect on what it would look like for them to put it into practice.