I read chapter 7 a couple of days ago, but I am just getting the chance to post, and I have to say, that Jesus’s questions in this section are in need of the context, otherwise they look like this:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” – Matt. 7:3
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” – Matt 7:4
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” – Matt. 7:9
“Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” – Matt. 7:10
“…Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” – Matt 7:16b
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’” – Matt. 7:22
So, let me add some context:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
This section rings true for me with all the political talk and people blasting each other without first looking at themselves. Jesus is direct in his questions and gives a straight answer for what to do.
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. – Matt. 7:7 – 12
Jesus is using the Ask, Seek, Knock section to talk about the gifts God has given to us and how we can be an example in taking care of others! That makes much more sense in context!
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
This question Jesus asks is to help us identify false prophets. Grapes are not picked from thorn bushes, they are picked from vines. And figs come from a tree. Clearly, these are out of place and the visual using elements that people recognize was how Jesus taught.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Out of context, the question in verse 22 seems legitimate, but within the rest of this passage, it’s clear that Jesus is identifying those who may walk the walk, but not talk the talk and it’s subtle. There is a difference between those who go through the motions and those who take action because it is God’s will. For me, this is a reminder to watch out and to be able to discern the difference.
Much was learned from the question in chapter 7 and I am excited to keep moving through Matthew!