“‘21 Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in you name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ 24 Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” 28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he taught then as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.’”
With these 2 short sections we come to the end of the Sermon on the Mount. As I indicated in the previous study, this section of verses is closely connected to the previous one. Jesus is continuing to talk about the kingdom of heaven, and continuing to correct his listeners’ understanding of what it takes to enter this kingdom. Actually, if we step back a moment and consider the sermon as a whole, we see that this is what Jesus has been teaching about the whole time. What is the realm of God’s rule like? Who are those who are close to God and entering His kingdom and who are not? From the beginning, Jesus has been surprising His listeners with His answers to these questions. Jesus starts this teaching with the astonishing proclamation, “’Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”
Somewhere along the line, the kingdom of heaven had become something that one earns by external obedience to the law. One’s relationship with God had come to be viewed primarily as a contract. If we conform to the demands of the law, then God will let us in, will reward us with a place in His kingdom. Clearly Jesus is challenging this view of righteousness. He has told his listeners that their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. How can they do so if righteousness is external obedience to the law? The scribes and Pharisees were apparently devoted to following the law scrupulously. Well, as we have seen, the righteousness that Jesus desires from His listeners is no fulfilling obligations of a contract, but rather one of trusting in God’s making us pure and having a right relationship with Him. This relationship of faith to receive from God what He gives is what Jesus came to make possible in us, and so for us to continue to attempt to create our own righteousness by being “religious” is to follow false teachers down the path to destruction, for that path is to continue to trust in ourselves and what we can do for God and contribute to his Kingdom.
Hearing that truly recognizes His word is a hearing that leads to lives that are a response to Who he is. All our actions, all doing, all obedience, then stems from a faith or trust in Who he is. Any obedience, or any actions that don't arise out of this trust then have no recognizable connection with Jesus as Lord. Doing things for Jesus or to get into His Kingdom that do not arise out of personal trust in him do not honor Jesus as the Lord that He is. Jesus finds no reflection of Himself in actions that are not moved by faith or trust in Him. He has no recognition of who they are in relationship to Him, because their actions don't bear witness to a true recognition of Who He really is and what He has come to do, namely be gracious to us, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Only total trust, fervent faith in Him, honors Him as Lord.
Going back to the beginning of the Sermon, we are to live as if poverty in spirit is a blessed attitude because in it we recognize our complete and utter inability to make ourselves right and whole, and our need to be continually filled by Jesus, continually receiving from Him as our Lord. We are to agree with Jesus that to be truly righteous requires the transformation of our minds and hearts by Him, not merely our offering to Him some external actions. Building on His words calls for living out of a trust and hope in Him to complete His work in us and in the world. The only kind of obedience to his Lordship he's looking for is an obedience that flows from faith in him to be our Lord. These words of this entire sermon then are meant to lead us to trust fully and completely in him as our Lord and to living lives that exude that living trust in His gracious and powerful Lordship to make all things right. Only in that way will He Himself be the rock of our lives, our true Lord.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen