The sermon on the mount is quite a tough one to chew on. Jesus takes the law and puts in on steroids. He tells us we are blessed when we are poor. We are to love our enemies. He warns us that if we curse someone we are liable for murder, and to give to anyone who asks of us.
The bar gets set higher than ever before, and then if you should have thought that you had surmounted the bar, He drops this:
“’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 will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ”Matthew 7:21 -23
What I thought He was saying
For many years I thought that this passage had to do with knowing Jesus. That if I didn’t know Jesus well enough, I will be shown away. It would be lie if I said that the thought didn’t set my boots a shaking.
I was doing the Christian thing well, wasn’t I? I’m sure I was being as kind as I possibly could, I think. I was believing hard enough that Jesus was the Son of God, wasn’t I? It turned out that none of these things mattered.
It’s all about your relationship with Him
It wasn’t until recently that the Lord revealed to me, that it wasn’t about knowing God inside out (as far as it were possible).
It’s clear in this passage that these people who call on Him knew Him well enough that they could cast out demons, prophecy, and do “mighty works”.
This passage is about Jesus knowing who you are.
The thought is almost ridiculous, because Jesus made me. If anyone should know me inside out, it should be Him.
Yet, here, on the mount He warns us that we could be jumping through all the hoops, and be darn successful about it, and still miss the point. We could still miss out on the greatest treasure of all. A relationship of peace with God that lasts for eternity.
It’s good news, all over again
Isn’t that spectacular news? It isn’t about the hoops and the duties that we complete. But about pouring our hearts out to a trustworthy friend and teacher.
Isn’t it spectacular news? He reminds us that the stuff before is important, but our hearts are the true treasures He wants.
As you get to know Him, it becomes easier to pour your heart out to Him. The more you know Him you can let Him in to inspect the nature of who you are. You will learn that He is gentle, and lowly in nature.
I close with this quote from Practical Religion, and the Self-Inquiry by JC Ryle:
“How can a man suppose he is ready to meet Christ who never takes any trouble to pour out his heart to Him in private as a Friend, and is satisfied with saying over a string of words every morning and evening, under the name of “prayer”, scarcely thinking what he is about?”
Photo found by Els Fattah, found on Unsplash