The Kingdom's Message continued
Multiple Three: Major Internal Conflicts
Jesus had just finished His first of three points. The first internal conflict He dealt with was focused on anxiety and greed. In chapter seven, Jesus comes to His second point regarding judging the motives of others.
Three Teachings on Judging the Motives of Others (1-12)
The Speck and Log (1-6)
Jesus here began to take on the vile sin of judging another. He was not talking about judging a man's actions in a court, or anywhere for that matter; Jesus was referring to the judgment of a person's motives (1). Jesus taught the measure one uses to judge the motives of another is the eternal rule of measure which will be used on the person who did the judging (2). Jesus questioned why someone would seek to remove a speck of a small motive in another person's life when within their own life a whole wrong motivational house is built ("speck" meaning sawdust; "log" meaning a timber used to hold a roof) (3-4). Jesus' encouragement was for His listeners to tear down the house of wrong motives in their own lives so they could look on another with lavish mercy which was to triumph over judgment (James 2:13). When it comes to internal motives, Jesus called for heavy amounts of mercy followed by a good dose of personal introspection, making one's focus more about judging personal motives while showing mercy to others (5).
While Jesus forbade judgment, He at the same time encouraged discernment. People do act in ways demonstrating a rejection of the gospel, treating it with contempt. Regarding those who treat the Gospel with contempt, Jesus encouraged His followers to be wise and cease feeding the dogs who won't eat the Kingdom food and to cease throwing Kingdom jewelry before senseless pigs, imagining a pig would prize a Kingdom treasure.
While Jesus still encouraged His disciples not to delve into sophisticated motive assessment, He at the same time was warning His followers to discern actions and not to continue to seek the conversion of those adversarial to Yahweh (6).
Ask, Seek, Knock (7-11)
Jesus then called His followers to judge the motives of Yahweh. Yahweh is not human; His integrity and trustworthiness is beyond judgment or dispute. Even parents will provide for their children according to their requests. No good parent would throw a stone at their child who was requesting bread, nor would a parent let a serpent loose on a table when their child was asking for some fish (9-10). Jesus then clearly makes His point: if evil parents with all kinds of mixed motives know how to give good gifts to children, how much more would Yahweh, their Father, give good things in response to prayer? (11). This was to be at the foundation of all prayer—judging Yahweh's motives as loving toward all who are making requests. With this foundation, Jesus urges His followers to ask, seek, and knock, full of faith that asking would be met with receiving, seeking would be met with discovering things lost, and knocking would be met with opportunities (7-8).
Golden Rule (12)
Jesus concludes His point with this summary: “Give others the benefit of the doubt. Don’t judge their motives too closely, but treat them as people who are children of God who at any time could ask, seek, and knock and have Yahweh give, uncover, and open." In other words, judge others and give them the same mercy and benefit of the doubt they would give themselves (12).
Three Teachings on the Assurance of Entering God's Kingdom (13-27)
Jesus ends His seminar with His final remarks concerning assurance: how can His followers walk in the security of knowing they have Yahweh's full acceptance? Jesus makes three points.
The Gate and Way (13-14)
First, the way to enter Kingdom life is a narrow gate, and a hard way in contrast to a wide gate and an easy way leading to ultimate destruction of the soul. Jesus also makes the point that the way that is wide and easy is the way chosen by the majority, and the way that is narrow and hard is chosen by the few (13). Jesus then defines the right gate to enter: the gate to life. The implication is that if the gate is not narrow and hard, then the gate entered is not the one leading to life (14). Some assume Jesus meant the journey to life is hard and difficult, but it’s more likely that Jesus meant the way to the gate is hard to find due to its narrow nature. Jesus will later tell His followers His yoke is to be easy and burden to be light (Matthew 11:30). The point is not that the journey of life in Jesus is hard but the way to the door, the way to repentance and faith, is hard and narrow—it does not allow for broad opinions as to how one should enter.
The Tree and Fruit (15-20)
Jesus then told them why the way to the gate is so hard: there are false prophets who look harmless as sheep but seek to devour and destroy any who even imagine entering the narrow gate (15).
Jesus told His followers they would not need to judge the motives of false prophets to guess who they really are; they merely need to look at their lives. Bad hearts do not produce good character any more than thornbushes and thistles produce grapes or figs (16). Jesus made the point further that a healthy tree cannot bear diseased fruit nor a diseased tree bear good fruit. Jesus then reminded them a diseased tree is removed and burned so it won't infect other trees (17-19).
Jesus' final point: you don't need to judge motives; what a phony religious leader produces in their followers will prove who they really are and what road they are really seeking to make it hard for a follower to take (20).
Lord, Lord (21-23)
Jesus then goes deeper into who is on what road, for it can be very deceptive. People who want to know if they know Yahweh personally have one simple test. It is not by being on a first-name basis; it is by doing the will of the Father (21). It is not even the ability to do ministry in the name of Yahweh; the preaching of good sermons, the removal of demonic influences from lives of those oppressed, and not even the doing of mighty head-turning works (22). People who know Yahweh and do the will of Yahweh are bound by the law of love and are controlled by their deep affection for God. They are not lawless in regard to love (23).
Jesus' Summary (24-27)
Jesus then summarizes all He had been saying with a parable about a couple of builders.
Houses on Rock and Sand
Again, Jesus was yet seeking to inform people how they could know they have taken the narrow way to the gate opening to a life of rest and easy burdens. Jesus told a parable about two builders—one wise, another foolish.
The wise man was like a builder who established his life on the firm foundation of hearing and doing what Jesus' voice was leading him to do (24). Even in rain, floods, and winds, the life would not collapse into destruction (25). Conversely, those who hear Jesus' words and ignores them is a foolish builder, having no sense of future consequence. The rain falls, the floods rise, the winds blow, and the house buckles, and the end result is a much-talked-about collapse (26-27).
The Crowd’s Response (28-29)
In the likely day-long seminar, Matthew gives us insight into the crowd’s response to Jesus' teaching on what repentance looked like.
The crowds were astonished, for the authority of Jesus was different than the scribes.
The teachers of Jesus' day never strayed away from what was widely accepted, nor were their teachings all that original in thought or spirit.
Jesus, on the other hand, spoke as one alive Who had the authority to say things different and do so in a convincing and proof-giving way.