“Wrapping Up the Sermon on the Mount”

Matthew 7:12-29

It’s taken us 12 weeks to read through and study the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew chapters 4-7 is where Jesus takes those who have been following Him up on a mountainside and announces God’s Kingdom has arrived. This concept is key to His ministry. This is God’s rescue plan for the whole world, through Him. God has come down in the flesh, and His Kingdom has come with Him. He has come to confront evil, especially spiritual evil which includes demon possession, disease and death. He has come to restore God’s rule and reign over the whole world by creating a new family of people. A people who will follow Him, His teachings and live under the rule of God’s Kingdom. 

We are at the conclusion of Jesus’ Kingdom explanations and it begins with a summation of Jesus’ ethical teaching on how we treat others. Here is where Jesus puts a twist on the Golden Rule. Long before Jesus came on the scene, the Golden Rule existed in many forms found in highly diverse settings. It went something like this,  “You should NOT do to your neighbor what you would NOT want them to do to you.” Jesus turns it around and by making it something positive we do, rather than not doing something negative. 

The best example of this we will read about in chapter 25 where Jesus talks about the Son of Man returning in His glory and separating people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Those on His right, the sheep, will take their inheritance. Why? 

Because when they saw He was hungry, thirsty and needed clothes, sick and in prison they reached out and helped out. Those on His left, the goats, put up a defense that had they seen the Son of Man in need of such care, they would have done so too, they just never saw Him. The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Under the negative form of the rule, the goats are “not guilty.” However, under Jesus’ form of the Golden Rule, they are indeed found guilty. 

Jesus concludes stating, “For this is the Law and the Prophets” boiled down into how we are to treat one another. Something even a three year old can comprehend. If we simply treat others the way we would want them to treat us, we have covered all of the Law and the Prophets. Simple yes, but not easy. 

Think about it. If you and everyone around you managed to follow this rule, you would have the “Kingdom of God.” 

The final section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount gives us guidance on making decisions. The first decision He gives advice on is which gate we decide to enter, the wide gate or the narrow gate. The gate is not our destiny, rather it is the entrance to the path of life. The narrow gate is the more difficult path, and more than likely the reason there are fewer people taking it. The irony is it is the one that leads to life. Whereas the broad gate leads to destruction. 

This begs the question, Why do most people decide to choose destruction? Is it because it is easy? 

Jesus doesn’t give any answers at this point, just advice, or better yet, a heads up. Basically, He is telling us to beware. 

The idea that following Christ would be easy and 

He would grant you everything you need and want is downright false. The health and wealth gospel just got thrown out the window. Because, following Jesus in a world of sin, is downright difficult. So get ready and be prepared. But the difficulty is worth it, because the reward is life, rather than destruction. Think about it. 

Jesus continues with His warnings. That wide path will have many on it who will do their best to guide us in their direction. They will do anything to get us to follow them, including deception. Jesus wanted His disciples to be able to discern between true and false prophets. There would be those who would come across as truth seekers, wearing sheep’s clothing, but inside they were ravenous wolves. It is in their nature to deceive and deny their true character. 

They are often so good at deception that they have even deceived themselves into believing they are sheep, when the facts tell differently. The number one tell tale sign is “self-interest,” an opposing trait for anyone seeking God’s Kingdom. Consider the ways one is focused on themselves, 

  • A desire for gain or an easy life
  • A desire for prestige
  • A desire to promote one’s one ideas, rather than God’s ideas

In fact, Jesus tells us the best way to recognize a false prophet is by looking at their fruit. Good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit. Inevitably what we are on the inside will come out, be vigilant and open to see it. Often we become emotionally attached to the false prophet to where our perception is clouded. Jesus even goes so far as to say that if a tree does not bear good fruit it is to be thrown into the fire. 

Jesus not only warned against false prophets, He warns that there will be those who call Him Lord and He will claim He had never known them. 

That seems rather harsh, doesn’t it? 

These false prophets would have gotten rid of demons and performed miracles, in the name of Jesus. They do the do’s and say the right things, but it is all for show. They missed the most important part, a personal relationship with Jesus. It is not the words we say, or the things we do, it is knowing Jesus and being known by Him that matters. 

Did you notice Jesus was speaking in first person? 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord

Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

How many people listening that day, caught on to the fact that Jesus claimed He was the one people would be standing in front of on that final day of judgment? 

Or that He was the one rightly called “Lord.” ?

A sobering thought for even us today. There will be a judgment day, a time when we alone will stand before Jesus, our Lord. Is what we are putting our heart, soul and mind into today, going to be worthy on judgment day? 

Jesus finishes by telling those who were listening, you have all just heard what the Kingdom of God is about. Now you all know how to live like you are in the Kingdom. As you leave from here, you have to make a decision: 

Do I live the way of the Kingdom or not? 

Those of you who decide to follow the ways of the Kingdom will be like a wise man who builds his house upon a rock. You will be ready to weather any storm. 

But for those who choose not to, well, they would be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. Which means when the storms come, wipe out. 

Did you catch that? Hearing God’s Word isn’t enough to give you a firm foundation. It just gives you head knowledge, like a house on sand. For those who do what the Word says to do, it means you’ve settled on a Rock that does not move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love. 

Matthew concludes Jesus’ teachings of the Kingdom of God by reflecting on the effect Jesus’s sermon had on those who heard Him. 

Two things surprised them:

  • The substance of His teachings were new doctrine, upside-down from what the Jewish rabbis taught, refreshing and real. 
  • More striking was the manner in which Jesus taught. He had an assurance about Him that demonstrated a certainty all its own, without pride, covered in love. Nothing like they had experienced before. 

We should respond in the same way. We have heard God’s Word presented from the very creator Himself. The Kingdom is still at hand. If you are like me, you can get caught up in the immensity of it all and feel overwhelmed. How do I take 12 weeks of information and remember it all? I think God knew this would happen so He condensed His Sermon into two commands:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’: 


‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Let’s pray.