By Brent Warkentin
Jesus wraps up his “Sermon on the Mount” by talking about a gate, some fruit and a rock (Matt. 7:13-29).
The gate. Jesus tells us to choose the “narrow gate,” a gate that he promises will lead to meaningful life now and eternal life in heaven someday. While Jesus wants everyone to choose the narrow gate, he describes the reality that most people will choose the “broad gate” that leads to destruction.
Some fruit. There are “false teachers” out there—religious folks who might leave a good first impression but whose lives bear “bad fruit” (character). “Don’t follow them,” Jesus warns. He goes on to say that just because you say you’re a Christian doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian—obedience (good fruit) is one of the evidences of a true follower of Christ (v. 21).
A rock. Jesus ends this sermon with a warning and a promise. The promise? Anyone who accepts his teachings and puts them into practice will become a strong follower of God, able to withstand the storms of life. The warning? Anyone who rejects his teaching will be knocked down by these same storms. The one who follows Christ is like a person building their house on a rock; the one who rejects Christ is like one who builds his house on shifting sand. One house stands up through the storms; the other doesn’t.
The gate calls us to believe in Jesus. The fruit reminds us to live with discernment and obedience. And the rock promises strength to withstand life’s storms.
So choose Jesus, the narrow gate. It’s hard and it takes commitment, but it will lead to life. The broad road is the easy one. You don’t need directions to find it—just follow the crowd. There’s no resistance and no commitment. But it won’t be a happy ending. So choose Jesus.
Be discerning of spiritual leaders. Interestingly, Jesus gives more warning about dangerous religious people than about dangerous irreligious people—perhaps because we usually spot the irreligious people right away.It’s the religious ones that can catch us off guard. Let’s not become skeptics and cynics who doubt every “preacher” that comes along, but it would be good to keep our eyes peeled for fruit.
Put Christ’s teachings into practice. Doing so will not only align you with truth but will make you strong to withstand life’s storms.
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the power of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was the response of the people: They were amazed because “Jesus taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.” May we walk away from this sermon with the same responses.
Brent Warkentin is lead pastor at First MB Church, Wichita, Kan.