A tree cannot make itself produce fruit. No, it’s impossible, and that’s just what some who heard the radical rabbi that day didn’t get.
Fruit comes as a result of what’s on the inside of the tree—it makes no effort to bring it forth.
Those who were worried with his talk of getting cut down due to bad fruit started squirming, so that’s why he went on to explain:
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 in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?” Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!”Matthew 7:21-23 CSB
All I can hear in my head as I read this is “Didn’t we, Lord?”
That phrase “didn’t we” comes with an action, a doing, a work. None of the things listed were bad. I mean, after all, prophesying in Jesus’s name is powerful. Casting out demons is amazing. Working miracles is awesome. What could be bad in that?
Doing in my own power is refusing to yield to his power working through me.
Jesus would go on to talk about the fruitful life at a later date, saying this:
Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.John 15:4-5
Jesus cares nothing about “acts of righteousness.” Remember, he’s been preaching on that mountain about doing any good work in secret. No, he wants people who are poor in spirit, who will seek him first, and enter through the narrow gate. Any good we do must come as a result of his work in us.
The religion of the scribes and Pharisees was all about words and works.
That’s why they did it to be seen by man, not considering the need to be seen by the unseen God. They were more concerned about their earthly reward of instant gratification rather than the heavenly reward only God could give. The Lord doesn’t recognize such people and separates them from his chosen ones.
We’re getting toward the end of this sermon. Do you know where you stand with the Lord? Know how to find out? It won’t be by what you do, but by being known by the One who controls your eternal destiny.
Grace and Peace