Summary: Who you listen to matters. It determines who you belong to - who owns you. We can choose the easy road or the hard one, depending on who we listen to. Does it really matter what road we take. Absolutely!
When I say “The Golden Rule” how many of you know exactly what I’m talking about? Jesus, as the big “A” author of God’s Word, can go into great detail about what His character means in our everyday relationships and actions, but He can also sum it up in just a few short words.
The Golden rule is deceptively simple however and in considering it we can miss the fact that we are hopeless and helpless to actually do what it says.
The “So” here in verse 12 is also translated “therefore” and means that Jesus is summing up all that He has said so far. The statement “for this is the Law and the Prophets” can also mean it “fulfills” the Law and the Prophets. The other way Jesus summed up His character is with a teacher of the law: love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37).
It’s a wonderful principal, only possible with the Holy Spirit living inside us through the salvation of Jesus Christ. Our default position is probably more like “Do unto others before they do it unto you.” Even for us who are apprentices of Jesus Christ we have a really hard time doing this. We want others to treat us well but we don’t think about how we treat them. Love on a human level is reciprocal. You do good to me and I’ll do good to you. Do bad to me and watch out! But God’s love is non-reciprocal. Rom 5:10 “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”
Basically you can start here and work back deeply into the character of God—a character that He is in the process of making in us who belong to Him. It takes a lot of attention and a lot of submission and humility and transparency before the Lord. Perhaps that one of the reasons He makes this next statement, which leads to the main part of this message:
Here’s how I want us to think about this today: Who you listen to determines what path you take, which determines who you are, which determines your citizenship which determines your final destination.
13 – 14 What path are you on?
There are some interesting views on these verses. Some suggest that since the Sermon on the Mount was given to disciples that it involves only our efforts at discipleship. I think there is merit. Paul said:
Phil 2:12-13 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
“Work out” means to accomplish fully, to finish, and comes from a word that means “labor” or “occupation.” As followers of Jesus, it should be our occupation to give God full access to our lives, like opening up the firewall of our hearts and letting Him have full access to probe, discipline, cleanse, and change. We need to cooperate with this work fully, even though it is not actually us who do it.
But though discipleship is in view, I think that Jesus is also warning his people that there are simply no other alternatives but to submit to Jesus. In the next 13 verses we get contrasts that clearly suggest that your eternal destiny depends on who you follow and what that makes you—if not Jesus, then your life and your eternal destiny will wash away like a house built on sand during a flood.
Is this paragraph then the gospel or a call to hard discipleship? I think it’s both really. I think about the parable of the seed that Jesus will tell in chapter 13. The seed represents the Word of the gospel. It only bears fruit where it goes deep into a heart. Living a life where you paint Jesus on the outside but He doesn’t live on the inside is like taking the easy road—He doesn’t have access and ownership of your heart. In the end, this way leads away from Him.
Living in Jesus is not easy but it is the best and only way if we want life. Sometimes we just settle for getting our fire insurance policy and don’t worry about really getting to know Jesus personally. Would we all be ones who would go over the boulders and difficult passages of life’s trials to know Jesus and have Him know us.
Phil 3:10-11 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. NIV
In the end it really is an either/or proposition. Jesus said “John 14:6