Jesus is getting close to the end of His message. My bible helps lump the rest of the sections together. I can certainly see their logic. So I think I will too. Jesus uses four illustrations in His concluding remarks. In each of these illustrations Jesus uses He is contrasting two polar opposites. Those who listen to Him and do His and his Father’s will, and those who reject Him.
In the first illustration Jesus uses a road and a gate. Jesus says that MANY will enter the wide gate with the easy road. Well, who wouldn’t want to take the easy way out? He says that the other way is hard and the gate is narrow and it is not easy to find. That one looks like too much work. IF it was just the gate and the road that we had to choose between, I’m sure we would all want to go on the easy hike. But it’s not. It’s what is on the other side of the gates that makes the difference. The narrow gate leads to life. The wide gate leads to destruction. And these are EVERLASTING choices. There are no do overs once you get beyond the gate. Before the gate you have many chances to change your mind, but not after. Choose wisely, because this is a decision that will stay with you for all of eternity.
The second illustration uses fruit trees. I have several in my yard and I love watching them and anticipating their delicious fruits. Jesus likens each of us to a fruit tree. He says we may all look the same on the outside but the inside content, our hearts, will show up in the fruit we produce. Our actions and attitudes are our fruits. As children of God we are supposed to be putting out fruit (attitudes and behaviors) consistent with His Spirit. Paul lists these for us in Galatians 5:22-23. They are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Even those full of Jesus will have some fruits that are not top notch. We are not perfect, but He prunes us and trains us to increase our yield and the quality of our fruit. A tree that is diseased on the inside though, cannot produce good fruit. A person who is full of sin on the inside cannot produce the fruits of God. Jesus is the cure for the disease, but only up to a point. That point is the same one that the gate marks. All eternity waits for your choice.
The third illustration shows Jesus meeting us in Heaven at the end of our work here on Earth. He will be standing at the door greeting each and every person. It won’t be a simple welcome to any and all who come up to the door though. It will be the beginning of our eternity. Either with Him or without Him. Jesus tells us Himself that there will be many of people that approach Him, thinking they did alright here on Earth that don’t get to spend eternity with Him. These people claimed to have been working in His name while they lived their lives. That’s great, but that’s not enough. They had to KNOW Him. Have a real relationship with Him. Be adopted into the family with Him. To come so close and miss the real point has got to be the saddest concept to me. I don’t know if these people honestly thought that what they were doing was enough to get them through or if they were just pulling up past instances when they thought their own “goodness” was enough, but to finally meet Jesus for the first time at the door is heartbreaking. If only they had listened to the whole truth. That “in Your name” is not the same as “by Your name.”
The last illustration Jesus uses in building a house. As a carpenter’s son He probably knew a lot about this. Jesus says our lives represent a house. We can build it on one of two foundations. Solid rock or shifting sand. He offers this message as foundational truths that we have to hear AND obey. The truths He has shared on the mountain have been challenging. They have made us take a hard look at our lives. They will, if allowed to, be the very foundation of our lives; the solid rock. The other option is the shifting sands of public opinion. Public opinion may look good and solid initially, but it is GUARENTEED to change. That change will pull your house to pieces. His word never changes. His surety ensures our house will stand. He promised there would be wind and rain and storms coming against BOTH kinds of houses, but the foundations would be what determines the survival of the house.
Father, I want to thank You and Jesus for ensuring that ANYONE listening could relate to one of these four illustrations. You don’t insist everybody learn about You one way. Your message doesn’t change but how You share it can. You know exactly what it will take to reach each of us stubborn people. I never want to hear You say, “I never knew you.” I thank You for allowing me into Your family. I know not all my fruit is pleasing to the eye, but I pray it is not rotten either. Thank You for pruning me to make my fruit better. Please be my eternal foundation. I trust that You are helping me construct my “house” in a manner that will be worthy of a Master Carpenter’s work. Remind me always Who I belong to and Who I am supposed to be representing in my daily life.