The final chapter recording the Sermon on the Mount contrasts the true and false way, that is, doing the will of the Father or not doing the will of the Father.
Morgan calls this chapter “a summary of principles of action.”41 The chapter begins by forbidding hypocritical judgment of others. Those desiring to judge their fellow men are warned that as they judge so they will also be judged. Too often, the one judging, who is able to see a mote or a small speck in his brother’s eye, overlooks the fact that he has a beam, or a splinter in his own eye, which is much larger. Such judgment is hypocrisy, and Jesus declared one should first cast out the beam from his own eye in order to be able to see clearly to help his brother. However, in helping others, care should be exercised to do that which will be really appreciated and helpful. Something holy should not be cast to dogs because they would not appreciate it; and pearls would only be trampled under the feet of swine, and they might turn and injure their benefactor. Help to others should be thoughtful and deliberate.
Earlier, Jesus had given them a model prayer. Now assurance was given that God welcomes prayer. They were, accordingly, exhorted to ask, seek, and knock, with the assurance that those who ask, receive; those who seek, find; and those who knock shall find the door open. As Tasker points out, the force of the present imperative in these commands is iterative: the petitioner should be persistent, keep on asking, seeking, knocking.42 If a son asks bread, would a father give him a stone? Or if he should ask for fish, would he receive a poisonous serpent? In like manner, if men, who naturally are evil, can give good gifts to their children, how much more can God the Father in heaven, who is infinite in His goodness, give good things to them that ask Him? In the kingdom, there is the reassuring fact that God the Father cares for those who are His.
The moral principles outlined in the Sermon of the Mount are summarized in Matthew 7:12 in what is often called the golden rule, which has no exact parallel anywhere else in literature. The principle is laid down that what men would ordinarily want others to do to them, so they should do to others, and this rule is the sum of the law and the prophets. As Morgan expresses it, “That is the whole thing.” Morgan goes on to quote Hillel, Socrates, Aristotle, and Confucius as expressing similar sentiments, but concludes, “These are negative and passive; Christ’s comment is positive and active.”43
Two Ways, 7:13-14
Entering into the kingdom is likened to going through a narrow gate, in contrast to going through the gate which is wide and broad, leading to destruction. Jesus gave no assurance that the majority will enter the kingdom; He declared that few find the gate leading to life and righteousness. There have been many attempts to soften this hard fact, to deny that few are saved, and to affirm that all will eventually be reconciled to God. There is no justification for ignoring these plain words of Christ. The way is indeed narrow, and only one Saviour is offered the world (cf. Ac 4:12).
Jesus warned against false prophets who are like wolves clad in sheep’s clothing, preying upon the flock. Tasker holds that false teachers are part of the cause for the way being narrow and hard to find.44 False prophets can be known by their fruits. Just as a good tree brings forth good fruit and a bad tree brings forth bad fruit, so it is with prophets. In the orchard, trees that do not bear good fruit are cast into the fire, and disciples of Jesus can expect God, in His time, to deal with those that are false.
Not only are there false prophets but there is false profession on the part of some who claim to follow Jesus. Not every one who addresses Him as Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven, even if they have prophesied in the name of Christ and have cast out demons and have performed wonderful works. The ultimate test is whether they are obedient to the Father and characteristically do His will. This principle does not mean that salvation in the kingdom is secured by works, but it does teach that works are the fruits, or evidences, which are found in a true disciple.
The Sermon on the Mount concludes with a parable. Those who hear and respond in obedience to the sayings of Jesus were declared to be like a wise man building his house upon a rock. The storms which beat and the rains which came did not destroy the house because of its solid foundation. The foolish man, however, who built his house upon the sand, in time of storm, discovered that his house would fall, because he had not built upon that which is eternal and true. As Ironside points out, Christ is the rock, the only sure foundation (Is 28:16; 1 Co 3:11; 1 Pe 2:6-8).45
This masterful address, comprehensive and authoritative in its pronouncement, astonished the people. As Ironside expresses it, “Never had such words as these been heard in Israel.”46 The teaching of Christ was in great contrast to the way the scribes taught and clearly showed that this was the truth of God.
The expression “and it came to pass” (Mt 7:28) is a characteristic transitional expression of Matthew (cf. 9:10; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). A similar expression is found much more frequently, however, in Luke and Acts than it is in Matthew, but it serves to introduce a summary of the reactions to what Jesus said and did.
The Credentials Of The King
41 G. Campbell Morgan, The Gospel According to Matthew, p. 71.
42 R. V. G. Tasker, The Gospel According to Matthew, p. 80.
43 Morgan, pp. 75-76.
44 Tasker, p. 82-83.
45 H. A. Ironside, Expository Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, p. 83.