Sermon on June 27, 2021
KaB FKB (Volker Aßmann)
STANDARDS THAT CHALLENGE
„The right way“
“Matthew 7, 13 – 23”
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father, which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Probably the most important and well-known sermon of all time is the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus Christ. It was first addressed to the friends and followers (disciples) of Jesus, people who were on the road with Jesus, people who trusted Jesus and people who wanted to get to know Jesus even better. And at the same time, this sermon was meant for everyone, because many people listened when Jesus said these words. So this sermon also applies to people who have no relationship with Jesus.
1. The big decision
Now at the end of the sermon, Jesus tells again in 7 pictures (parables) what is important:
The narrow and the wide gate.
The narrow and the wide way.
Wolves and sheep.
Thorns and thistles.
Good and bad trees.
The “LORD, LORD! -Sayers”.
The clever and the foolish house builder.
Fritz Rienecker writes:> In these 7 closing words, the unheard-of seriousness of the Sermon on the Mount is once again expressed clearly and deeply. In 7 figurative words of the great divorces and decisions, the LORD holds holy judgment over those who are far from God and those who are near to God, over the honest and the unfair members of His community. The court of divorce also goes through the middle through the church of Jesus, even through the heart of the disciple.<
Jesus makes it clear that following HIM, living in a relationship with Jesus Christ, costs something. Yes but? Isn’t everything a gift of grace, without having to do anything in return?
Yes, it is and remains a gift of God’s grace and love that HE accepts every human being unconditionally and without any effort of his own as His child, who claims the forgiveness of the crucified and risen Jesus for himself.
These sentences from the Sermon on the Mount make it clear that this is not “cheap grace”. It wasn’t “cheap” anyway, it cost Jesus his life. And shortly after the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said this:
“Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worth being my disciple.” (Matt. 10:38) Jesus does not play with false promises like: “Everything will be easy and good!” He speaks of a narrow gate and a narrow and arduous path, not a highway with a passing lane. There will be difficulties and restrictions, hardships, things that make the path difficult. And yet this door and this path is the only one that leads to life. And Jesus is also not a spoiler when HE says that it leads to ruin on the apparently better and easier way.
It is about the most important and greatest decision of our life when it comes to the narrow and wide door, the narrow and wide path. It is a lie that “the way is the goal,” because then Jesus should invite you to walk through the wide door onto the wide path. But the way is not the most important thing, but the goal. “And only the destination shows whether the journey is worthwhile.” (Oswald Sanders)
Last week I did a mountain tour in the Alps. I started without knowing exactly where I was going. The path was comfortable and good and it went into a valley, where at the end there were only mountains around that were 500 to 600 meters higher. At the top I saw a beautiful hut (and I had the hope that it would be cultivated) and so I decided to dare the sweaty ascent over a very narrow and steep path.
Once at the top I found that the hut was closed and in the distance (an hour and a half walk away) I saw one that was very attractive from a distance, but I had read on the map that it was dilapidated, but another half An hour further a hut with a great view was waiting. And I decided to take this route over an even narrower and worse path, together with my last half liter of water in the midday sun.
Since I’m here today, I have probably made it and strengthened myself there, enjoyed the great view. And I decided to climb to the next peak. I can tell you that the way was not beautiful and even very exhausting, but the arrival at the destination that I knew was worth it.
So it’s about the goal that I choose. And the appropriate path is part of this decision. Jesus does not say: choose the more difficult path, but choose the right goal – “life”, because the only alternative is “perdition”. It’s not about a day trip, a mountain tour or the like, it’s about our life, about everything. And the path chosen determines the goal. Only one person in your life is responsible for this decision for the path, you yourself, no one else.
And because Jesus wants what is best for you and me, HE invites us, calls on us:
“Go through the narrow gate and on the narrow path!” (7:13)
This gate is not the “door to heaven”, but it is the entrance to the way of life. With this picture, Jesus describes a person’s decision to live with HIM: conversion.
Perhaps the description of the “broad way” is helpful in understanding the narrow way: everything seems to be possible and easy to have. And because the things of this life are the final and decisive, one tries to get as much of them as possible. According to the advertising slogan: <I love enjoyment – immediately! <
Ultimately, it’s about myself and my fulfillment and satisfaction of my desires. But the balance of life will be sobering and bitter: ruin, lost, nothing that matters …
No, Jesus is not concerned with hardship and renunciation, difficulties …, but with the goal of a fulfilled life now and forever. And HE is honest that this cannot be done without effort, renunciation
… Yes, I hear the objections that it is again about appeals and own actions. But why is it that what Jesus is saying here immediately meets your resistance?
Yes, Jesus gives us eternal life – and at the same time HE says: “You have to carry your cross and follow me!” It is the price for achieving our goal since our conversion that Jesus is in charge of our lives and that difficulties and burdens are involved.
And carry over the cross I read this sentence: > Whoever touches the cross correctly will find out that it is no greater burden to him than the bird’s wings.>
Yes, a bird’s wings have weight that the bird must carry, but only the wings give the bird the ability to fly.
Yes, it costs us something to follow Jesus, and it is not just about the satisfaction of our desires, but following Jesus is the only way to heaven. Because Jesus invites all people to trust HIM and to follow HIM:
“Therefore go to all peoples and make people my disciples!” (Matt. 28:19)
Jesus does not say: Make people Christians or church members, but disciples! These are people who follow Jesus and bring other people to Jesus.
Philipp Mickenbecker died 2 weeks ago at the age of 23. He had cancer and eventually died on the second relapse of his disease. He was well known in the media and so far over 4 million people have clicked the YouTube video about his life that invites people to believe in Jesus. Before he died, he said that he would always trust God that God would do the right thing, even if he should die. Why? Because he felt so loved by God and because he had found Jesus.
2. You will recognize them by their fruits!
Attention! Not everyone means well to you! And not everyone who comes across as pious either. Also, not every YouTube post is automatically good and helpful. Even in the church we need such vigilance and the willingness and responsibility to examine and sometimes to warn and reject.
Jesus speaks of “false prophets” and “wolves that come disguised as sheep”.
The one with the wolves is a very current problem, I found out on my vacation. In one night a wolf had killed 7 sheep on a mountain pasture. It would be bad enough for the farmer to lose a sheep because a wolf is hungry, that’s just how it goes in nature. But wolves tear weaker animals, not only to satisfy their hunger, but to injure and kill, in some cases they don’t even kill the victims, they hurt them terribly.
Jesus warns His people of great dangers in life and also in the church, which are not always recognizable at first glance. Prophets are people who speak in the name of God. But the biblical principle was and is that the authenticity of a prophecy had to be proven in the reality of life, otherwise it was a false prophet. I
quote Fritz Rienecker again: “So these prophets also appear in the midst of the community of Christ as those who using holy words and speaking in the name of God. Yet what they say and do is not divine because their inner motives are dark and unholy.”
Now we humans are all very different and this also applies to the request to be vigilant. But not everyone who disagrees with me or yours is a false prophet or a wolf.
Lately I have read an impressive and honest book (“Ungeschminkt”) by Johannes Wirth, who was responsible for a large community and a large foundation for many years. His tip is, for example, with new “waves” in the community landscape (if it is not obviously very blatant and bad wrong Things work), do not judge or crush everything right away, but sometimes also to wait. Because Jesus says that we will see the fruits, including the fruits in the lives of those who propagate these things. But fruits have to grow first and so it is sometimes good to wait a little and watch and then make a decision about these new things.
Even when it comes to critical or dangerous things, it is important to look at the people from whom it comes. The fruits that a tree bears reveal a great deal about the type of tree, and so, says Jesus, it is also with humans. Don’t fall in on everyone and everything!
A very decisive criterion for the examination in the church is whether you find love in this person? If not, it is very likely about power and about this person and not about God’s kingdom. But be careful: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us drastically against hasty and wrong judgments (see beams and splinters in our own eyes and those of the ot
3. Caution – self-deception!
“Only he / she will enter the kingdom of heaven who does the will of my Father in heaven!” (7:21) We can’t fool God, HE looks into our heart and not just on our facade. And God does not let himself be blinded by seemingly great deeds and achievements.
In His sovereignty God even allows people who have no real relationship with HIM to do things that only God can actually do (cast out demons, prophetic words, miracles …). And God warns us that such superficial things do not necessarily guarantee authenticity.
Let us just think again of the endurance test for people who appear in God’s name and speak prophetically: It must not only be in accordance with God’s word, but also be fulfilled in life.
The heart of the Christian faith is following Jesus, obedience to God’s words, that is, life as a disciple of Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t want lip service, he wants our life, our heart, our trust and our obedience.
“You will recognize them by their fruits!” – This also applies to me and it applies to you. That is why it is your responsibility today to make your relationship with Jesus clear!
Do you trust HIM?
Do you follow HIM?
Do you keep learning from Jesus and are you His disciple?
Are you sure that God knows you because you are His child and trust HIM?