Summary: The stories of the narrow gate, the healthy tree, and the house built upon the rock all have a common theme in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
Gates, Fruit, and Foundations
There was no denying he had changed. When I was 20 years old I watched a transformation take place before my eyes. I had become a Christian 3 years prior, and I had tried on many occasions to witness to my parents. But I was not successful at helping them to see that my relationship with Christ was based upon acceptance of His forgiveness and grace, and that it was entirely different from the religious works attitude I had as a child and teenager. They just didn’t get it.
And then one day my dad shared with me that He had knelt before the TV while watching a Billy Graham Crusade, and that He had given His life to Christ. I was excited, but skeptical. My dad was always a very religious man, but his religion was more about rituals.
But then I began to observe the changes in my dad. First, he seemed more peaceful and more joyful than he had ever been. He started to read his bible faithfully every day, and he always spent a good deal of time in prayer. Whenever I went out with my dad, I would observe how he always brought the name of Jesus into every conversation he had with strangers. He witnessed in his own way with just about everyone he met. My dad seemed to have a new purpose to life.
There were changes in the way he interacted with my mother also. He started to treat her gently. He was kind and more considerate than he had ever been before. He showed my mother love by his words and actions, and as a result my mother became less angry. She grew in tenderness towards my dad.
For the first time I was actually able to talk with my father about spiritual things. A new openness and trust grew between us. The changes in my dad were small, but significant. My dad demonstrated by his life that he was a true believer in Christ, and not just a religious man.
Change is inevitable and critical when we follow Christ. If we are not changing daily to become more like Jesus, than we either do not know Christ personally as our Savior, or we have willfully walked away from Him and have grieved the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in every believer and He produces this change. It is what is meant by being born again, a new creation in Christ.
In the Sermon on Mount, Jesus spoke repeatedly about this change. Believers move from religion to relationship, and from head knowledge towards heart change. Using three separate illustrations Jesus drives home this point:
From beginning to end real Christianity produces change
Our first illustration comes from Matthew 7:13-14
"You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.”
1. The hard way versus the easy way.
Jesus begins with an illustration of journey on roads and through gates to contrast the way of salvation with the way of destruction. The imagery would have made sense immediately to the people of Palestine.