Matthewby Mike Raiter
Every good preacher concludes with a summary of all He has said, and Jesus does that with the famous Golden Rule (v. 12). This rule concerns the way we relate to others. The guiding principle is: we should treat others in the way we would want others to treat us, for this is what true righteousness is about. Love is at the heart of it.
And now the time has come for the listeners to respond to all that Jesus has taught. But following Him can be tough. He said, ″Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness″ (Matthew 5:10). This means that those who live righteously will face opposition. So how will we persevere? The Bible gives us two sustaining truths. First come wonderful words of assurance: ″For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord″ (Romans 8:38-39). Hand in hand with this are warnings. Jesus, the wise teacher, speaks both. He began His sermon with words of assurance (Matthew 5:3-12), and now He ends it with timely words of warning.
In His final appeal, Jesus reminds us that there are only two choices before us. There are two gates and two roads. There are two ways of living and at the end of each road is either life or destruction. Given all Jesus has said about righteousness, He unsurprisingly warns us that true prophets are discerned not so much by their words as by their behaviour (vv. 15-20).
However, discipleship is not just about confession or mighty works of power. How does one know he has entered the kingdom of heaven? As Jesus has been teaching all along, only when one's life reflects God's will. In other words, the proof is in one's obedience to this sermon. Notice that sobering little word, ″many″ (v. 22). That should drive from our hearts any sense of complacency about living the Christian life. We need His grace and strength.
Jesus concludes with a short parable that summarises all He has said. Building one's house on the rock is a metaphor for hearing and doing Jesus' will (vv. 25-26). On the outside, these two houses look very much the same, but it only takes a storm to reveal what each house is really made of. The storm stands for judgment day, which will separate the two roads, the two prophets, the two confessions, and the two houses. You see, the hymn was right: ″Trust and obey, for there's no other way″.
Notice how so much of what Jesus says here distinguishes between outward appearance and inward reality. How can we as a church be beguiled by appearances? What does Jesus say is the mark of a true disciple?
″Only a few find it . . . is cut down and thrown into the fire . . . away from me, you evildoers . . . and it fell with a great crash″ (vv. 14-27). What and whom is Jesus talking about here? What lessons can we draw from these sobering words?