SATURDAY 3.18.23 Matthew 7:15-29
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are vicious wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruit. Do people get bunches of grapes from thorny weeds, or do they get figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, and every rotten tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit. And a rotten tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore, you will know them by their fruit.
21 “Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 On the Judgment Day, many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name and expel demons in your name and do lots of miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I’ll tell them, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you people who do wrong.’
24 “Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock. 26 But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed.”
28 When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were amazed at his teaching 29 because he was teaching them like someone with authority and not like their legal experts.
John the Baptist challenged his hearers, notably the Jerusalem religious leaders, “Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives” (Matthew 3:7-8). Jesus expanded that, noting that we judge a fruit tree’s health not by its looks, but by the fruit it bears. The key spiritual reality is not how pious we look publicly, but whether our lives reflect the principles of God’s kingdom. Jesus pictured people on the Judgment Day talking about prophesying in his name, casting out demons in his name, doing “mighty works” in his name—and yet hearing the tragic words, “I’ve never known you.” Older GPS readers may recall a pop song called “Yesterday When I was Young.” (Younger readers can ask parents or grandparents about it.) It included these somber lines: “The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned, I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand.” * Jesus authoritatively called us to build our life on the rock of his kingdom’s enduring values, not on shifting sand.
- We often think of these verses mainly when we hear another story about a religious leader who has fallen short of integrity in sexual, financial or some other way. But Jesus' principle works the other way too. Are there people you have learned to trust more as you have seen the fruit of their life and work? What kind of “fruit” most helps and nourishes you? “It’s not even enough to name Jesus as Lord, or perform extraordinary activities (like throwing out demons or working miracles) in his name. What matters is that one put into practice in one’s life the true righteousness of which Jesus had spoken in Matthew 5:20.” ** How would you define the difference between showy outward “righteousness” and a life that puts “true righteousness” into practice inwardly as well as outwardly? It will rain in your life sooner or later. What are you doing daily to build the type of character that can weather life’s storms?
King Jesus, I want you to rule in my heart, in my life. Reshape my values and beliefs until they truly form a firm foundation for living a life that honors you. Amen.
In case you missed it...
During Lent, we have a weekly video that will help you reflect on the key themes from Words that Changed the World: The Message of Jesus. Pastor Cheryl Bell leads us through this week's video. Click here to watch it on YouTube (or click on the image below).
* Writer(s): Charles Aznavour in French, Herbert Kretzmer in English. Copyright Charles Aznavour and Fred Ebb, from https://www.metrolyrics.com/yesterday-when-i-was-young-lyrics-charles-aznavour.html.
** Eugene Eung-Chun Park and Joel B. Green, study note on Matthew 7:21-23 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 18 NT.
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Patrick McLaughlin is the Community Pastor at Resurrection Downtown. He has been on staff at Resurrection since 2016. He, his wife Megan, and their daughter live near Resurrection Downtown as part of their commitment to a ministry of incarnation. Patrick and Megan are both Kansas natives and love the diverse food, culture, and neighbors that Kansas City offers. The things Patrick enjoys most about working at Resurrection are equipping people to serve and presiding over communion for our diverse downtown congregation.