Summer on the Mount: Week 13
Welcome and Opening Prayer:
Welcome the group and open with a prayer together.
Stark Contrasts Add Urgency to Jesus’ Instructions:
In this week’s passage in Matthew 7:13-23, Jesus uses terms like destruction and life, true and false prophets, bearing good and bad fruit, and ferocious wolves in sheep’s clothing to add urgency to what He teaches. He describes two paths and gates—one narrow and one broad—with each leading to life or destruction. Jesus also describes how to discern and identify what is true and what is false.
Read Matthew 7:13-23 and then sit silently with the passage for 5 minutes. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be open and curious about what Jesus has to say to you in these verses.
Roads to Destruction or Life:
Much of what Jesus shares with His disciples thus far in the Sermon on the Mount is counterintuitive to the way they have witnessed religiosity lived out by the Pharisees. Jesus judges the Pharisees’ actions because He knows their hearts are hard. The difficult work Jesus invites His disciples into is transformation of the heart—knowing that from this transformation, true religious expression can flow out naturally. Verses 13-14 present an invitation to enter the narrow gate through the narrow path, and the reward to this path is life. Yet, there are only few who find it. Many others are heading on the broad road, to the wide gate which Jesus says leads to destruction.
- The broad way and wide gate are walked and entered by many. Why do you think that is? What does Jesus mean by this?
- How would you describe destruction and life?
- Why might it be that the road leading to life is narrow?
Knowing True and False by their Fruits:
In verses 15-23, we stumble upon a section that could be quite troubling to some people. At first, Jesus takes aim at false prophets. As we read about good and bad fruit, it is important to remember that trees don’t bear fruit right away—so it is with false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing. They can’t be judged too quickly. But to Jesus, it is very important that we judge false leaders by their fruit and practice discernment. He also mentions that not everyone who calls Him “Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
- True believers do “the will of my Father who is in Heaven.” What does Jesus mean by this?
- What do you make of Jesus saying “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” in verse 23?
- Jesus’ command to discern good and evil by its fruit challenges our broader cultural value of “not judging.” How do you reconcile this tension? Also, how do you reconcile this command with Jesus’ earlier command of “Do not judge” (Matthew 7:1)?
Discuss and Reflect:
- According to the above passages, what are good fruits, and what are bad fruits?
- What is your influence on those around you? What are the fruits you can see in others’ lives as a result of knowing, interacting, and being around you? (If you don’t know, what might it mean that you don’t know?)
Read Matthew 7:24-27:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus culminates His Sermon on the Mount with this parable about the importance of practically applying His teaching. Split into pairs and discuss, support, and then pray.
- What is the biggest or most striking idea or invitation from today’s discussion and from Sunday’s sermon?
- What are practical ways you can apply what you noticed? (For example, is there a conversation to have, a commitment to make, or request for help you need to make?)
The sermon next Sunday, September 3rd, will be on Matthew 7:24-27. In order to be prepared for Sunday’s sermon and CG next week, try to read these 8 verses daily and take note of how they resonate with you.