SUMMARY.--Motes and Beams. Casting Pearls before Swine. Asking and Receiving. The Golden Rule. The Broad and Strait Gates. Wolves in Sheep's Clothing. The Tree Known by Its Fruits. The Kingdom Entered by Obedience. The Wise and Foolish Builders. The Wonderful Teacher.
16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. This common figure is wonderfully expressive. Not leaves (professions), or appearance, are the proper tests of the life that is in the tree, but the fruit it bears. We are to test men and every institution by this principle. Grapes of thorns. Two of the most highly valued fruits of Palestine are grapes and figs. Nothing is more common than thorns and thistles. Geike says that it is the land of thorns and thorny plants. Good fruit cannot be expected on such evil stocks.
17, 18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. The Lord points to the uniform law of nature. Every tree bears after its kind. As is the tree, so is the fruit. The same principle holds good in the moral world. A good man will show forth good deeds, while a bad man will bear fruit according to his nature.
19, 20. Every tree, . . . is hewn down, and cast into the fire. The test of good and bad trees, good and bad men, good and bad systems, has been presented. Now the figure is carried farther to show their destiny. The Savior states a principle that seems to run through the whole government of God. Whatever is useless and evil shall finally be swept away.
21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom. The Lord has shown that the entrance into the kingdom is through the "strait gate." He now shows more particularly what is needed to enter. Certain ones are described who cannot enter in. "Not every one" implies that some who say, "Lord, Lord," etc., shall enter in. Those enter who do the will of my Father. No one can be a citizen of the kingdom who does not obey the King.
22. Many will say to me in that day. The great day of the Lord. Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? The Lord chooses out of the greatest class of non-doers to show that all such will fail of entrance. They have omitted the one thing needful, a faithful obedience.
23. I never knew you. "I never knew you" must be accepted in its deeper signification of "recognizing the disciples." Augustine says that for Christ to say, "I never knew you," is only another way of saying, "You never knew me." Depart, . . . ye that work iniquity. In spite of all their professions they had been evil doers. Their religion expended itself in professions and prayers. Hence, in "that day" they are commanded to depart. What it is to so depart we may learn from Matt. 25:41 . It is evident from this passage that many are self-deceived.
24. Every one that heareth these sayings of mine. The words that he has spoken in this discourse, and all his teachings. I will liken him unto a wise man. The wise man, with wise forethought, has built on a firm foundation. In a country with a rainy season and heavy floods this was essential. The man who "hears and does" Christ's words is building upon the rock ( Matt. 16:16 ).
25. The rain descended . . . and it fell not. Palestine is a country of torrents and sands. This verse gives a picture of the sudden violent storms and sweeping floods which are so common during the rainy season. The house founded upon the rock could not be undermined and destroyed, but would stand firm. So, says the Lord, shall it be with those who hear and obey. "They shall stand in the judgment" ( Psa. 1:5 ).
26. Heareth these sayings . . . and doeth them not. The hearer who obeys not is likened to the foolish man who built his house on the sand. Every one knows how transitory and shifting is a sandy foundation. Whole towns on the Missouri or lower Mississippi have been undermined and gone into the vortex because they were built upon the sand. So will fall the disobedient.
27. Great was the fall of it. The Lord describes the thoughtfulness of the builder on the sand, the storm and the utter destruction. There is an awful solemnity about this close to the wonderful sermon.
28. The people were astonished at his doctrine. At his teaching. No wonder they were astonished. The whole world still wonders as it studies this sermon.
29. As having authority. He spoke, not as a man, with human doubts and limitations, but as one who was omniscient. He came from God, and spoke as one divine; not as a human, hesitating, halting, limping expounders like the scribes, the interpreters of the Scriptures.