~ Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life. Apparently it’s easy to find yourself on the wrong road. It’s apparent also that you’d have a lot of company there. This has sort of a summary feel to it. It’s as if Jesus recognizes that his lessons thus far are very hard. A majority of people, he seems to concede, will not choose his way. The teachings of others will be more appealing. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” How can you tell the difference? Fruit. Jesus illustrated by talking about non-fruit bearing and fruit bearing trees. A thorn bush doesn’t produce grapes. You won’t find figs growing on a flowering thistle. Then he shifted his botanical example to type: “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” This is a call for discernment. By their fruit you will recognize them.
Jesus punctuated the point by painting a very scary picture. Use your sanctified imagination: It’s a scene of religiously devout appearing people proclaiming “Lord! Lord! Look at all the things we’ve done in your name!” To which Jesus replies, “Do I know you?” If ever there is a depiction of religious devotion amiss, this has to be it.
This is reminiscent of several earlier scenes in God’s story. Here’s a couple of big buts written long ago in the first chapter of the book of Isaiah: I reared children and brought them up but they have rebelled against me; the ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manager, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. It’s as if God said, ‘Keep all your religious acts. I don’t want them. I desire a relationship with you—I want you to know me. I want to know you.’
AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER SEVEN, BIG BUTS OF THE BIBLE: A REVEALING LOOK AT JESUS CHRIST