“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
The Lordship of Christ
These are strong words from Jesus, looking at those who truly accept Him as Lord and those who don’t. Verse 21 is associated with the parable of the Way. Jesus gives a warning of a merely verbal profession of faith. He is demanding we make an absolute choice. If Christ is not your Lord, you are not saved. There’s only one way to God.
There are contrasts to be seen here. When you go to the wide gate you can carry a lot through – sin. But you need to give this up to go through the narrow gate. We must come to a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Everyone travelling along the wide path seeks their own way. Those who travel on the narrow path travel in fellowship, it has clearly defined boundaries, God’s word guiding us in how to behave. Jesus’ direction is for our own benefit. Matthew 11:29-30. He will help us.
There’s also a sharp contrast in the destination. The narrow life leads to life, the broad way leads to destruction. The problem is this grates with our culture which likes choice, it doesn’t want to be restricted.
Jesus follows up this parable by warning against false prophets. These are found by the narrow path, preventing people from taking the narrow path. They will likely affirm that they are followers of Jesus, but do not have Jesus as their Lord.
‘Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). What is holiness? J. C. Ryle states, “A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He knows his own heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation.”
Jesus considers this to be an important issue because He expands in verse 22. He says there will also be people who not only make a verbal profession of faith, but also an intellectual profession. Many even think they are Christians themselves (Simon the sorcerer, Acts 8:9-24).
We see Jesus follows this statement with the parable of the two builders. Why do so many people fill their lives with all sorts of things – possessions, careers? They realise something is missing. They look for a belief system that can accommodate the rest of their lives but Scripture tells us they will be like the foolish man who built his house on sand.
Jesus presents us with a stark choice; build on the rock, Himself, or something else. Both of these men in this parable hear Jesus. Neither is ignorant, but one has decided not to listen. There is a parallel with 2 Corinthians 5:17. To be a new creation means we start again, we are re-born spiritually. Building on a new foundation will mean change. We will have a different perspective. We will look at things in light of scripture.
Foundations are only tested when the storm comes. Both houses are subjected to the same treatment. As Christians we still have troubles but we have Jesus Christ to take us through them. To be a Christian is to acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
Jesus offers Himself. We can depend on His foundation. Every human being faces a stark choice. Jesus is the one who saves us. It will be a difficult path at time but eternity lies at the end. We don’t want an intellectual understanding. We need to out our faith into practice.
We see the crowd’s reaction in verses 28-29. There is no indication here of anyone coming to faith. These people play out the negative side of the parable Jesus has just told. In Matthew 8:1 we see Jesus had many followers. Some may have referred to Him as Lord, but this may be just verbal. His teachings elicited astonishment but they did not put it into practice. They needed to recognise Jesus was God. Even though He made it quite plain – (verse 21, ‘My Father’) – a direct claim to divinity, and again in verse 22, in Jesus’ name, and again in verse 23, He will sit in judgement in the role of God Himself – still they people denied Him as Lord.
See Jesus for who He truly is. Earnestly seek to build holy lives.