After having spent the last several months reading, studying, & now teaching through the Sermon on the Mount, I have drawn a couple of conclusions for myself that I don’t think I had before (or at least hadn’t identified.)
In this passage of Scripture, Christ defines exactly what it means to be His disciples:
- in how we relate to & obey God & His commandments.
- In establishing our priorities & values from which we live our lives.
- in how we worship Him, not merely with our outward actions, but from the bottom of our hearts, with all that we have.
- In how we interact with & care for other people.
Matthew 7 concludes with Jesus telling His disciples they have 2 choices: follow Him & walk in His ways, on His terms, or do anything else. He does this comparing:
- 2 gates, the narrow and the wide. The narrow gate leads to life; the wide to destruction.
- 2 types of trees, good & diseased, the good, which produces good fruit, the diseased which brings forth bad fruit.
- 2 types of disciples – the ones He knows (those who do the will of the Father,) & those He doesn’t know, regardless of what they think they’ve done in His Name.
- 2 foundations – Rock & sand, with the foundation of rock representing the person who hears & puts into practice His words; sand is the life foundation of the person who has heard His words, yet ignores them.
To me, the entirety of Matthew 5-7 can be summed up in Matthew 7:13,14 – the only way to experience God’s life & purpose is to enter through the narrow gate (Jesus) & to walk the hard road of obedience to God’s word, humbly choosing to do His will over our own. After re-reading this over & over, what stands out to me is that I cannot “self-define” where & how I will be Christ’s disciple. He’s already done that, & my choice is to embrace that & start walking with Him, or to choose the lesser (& easier) wide gate through which I can do what I’d like, how I like it… sifting through Christ’s commands & picking up those that are palatable, while leaving behind those that I deem are not.
Following Christ is hard – Jesus said it would be, because it involves denying our own selfish ambition, picking up Jesus’ way, & moving forward WITH Him.