Deciding to Follow Jesus
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
True and False Prophets
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 thorn bushes, 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.
True and False Disciples
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!’
We are drawing to the end of the SOM series. One more message to come. The issues being raised in our passage today continue down the pathway of judging. And in this case we are judging or deciding for ourselves how to respond to Jesus Christ. Jesus is easily the most unique person in history. His impact is total. His teaching and claims continue to challenge people’s behavior and motives in whatever cultural context He is taught. In our passage today, Jesus makes exclusive claims concerning the necessity of a response to His teaching! We must follow Jesus in order to have the life that God wants for us!
Before reading the Scripture, note John 10: which dovetails nicely with our first section to study this morning.
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
After reading the Scripture: In deciding for ourselves how to respond to Jesus’ teaching, we must begin by considering His exclusive claims.
- Jesus’ Exclusive Claims
Jesus is unique in all of human history. Jesus is unique in salvation history! Jesus is not against Moses! He is the prophet like Moses who is to come Deut 18:
14 The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. 15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
17 The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”
- In agreement with the Mosaic Covenant
Jesus fulfills the Mosaic covenant. He brings about it’s completion. He is not against the Mosaic covenant. He is Jewish and follows the Jewish laws.
Matthew 23: 37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
The problem here is that the Jewish leaders define the way to God in different terms.
Pharisees: religious conservatives
Sadducees: religious liberals: typically rich
Essenes: religious ascetics: extremely given to purity
Zealots: religious revolutionaries, given to violence in trusting God to care for them. Kicking out the Romans
Jesus doesn’t fit any of these categories! Refer to false prophets in the verses to come.
- Exclusive Identity
Acts 2: 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, (ministry of miracles) which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; (prophecy) and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, (Resurrection) freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
(Lord: The unique son of God. Messiah: Unique Savior)
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
John 8:58, Before Abraham was born, “I AM.”
John 10:30 I and the Father are one.”
Jews seek to kill Him on the spot!
Jesus is the unique son of God.
Prophetic proofs: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalms 22: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
Miracles: That Jesus Christ did miracles is a generally accepted historical fact. Both his supporters and His enemies claimed that He did them!
The Resurrection especially is a sign miracle. And is it’s own category of proof!
Teaching: The authority with which He speaks. He speaks as if speaking on par with the Law. Or, He speaks as if equal to the One who spoke to Moses on Sinai!
The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath!
After walking on the water and calming the storm
Woman anointing His feet with her tears
Thomas: My Lord and my God
Women after the Resurrection worship Him
Shepherds at the manger.
Impact on the world: Read One solitary life essay.
- Exclusive Ministry
Romans 3: None righteous… not even one. II Cor 5: 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
John 14:6 THE way, THE truth, THE life. As a result of this, no man comes to the Father but by me.
Acts 4: 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Matthew 9: Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
Galatians 2: 21 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
- Warning Against False Prophets
- Deceitful appearances
Sheeps clothing means they look like one of you. They identify as an ally spiritually. When in reality they seek to devour you. They seek to use you. They seek to use your money, your influence, your time etc. Who are they for? They claim to be for God but are for themselves. And they say that if you are not for them then you are not for God!!
IF Jesus is who He says He is, then all who oppose him are by necessity and definition false prophets!
Even today, those who really understand and pursue Christ magnify Christ. WE do not make enough of Him, let us not diminish Him in any way!
- Look at the quality of their lives
Fruit from thorns?
You know a tree by its fruit. This just very simply means that we are to examine their own lives to see what they are.
- What is good fruit?
It is not talent! It is not being able to sing, to lead, to teach etc.
Do they love others?
Do they demonstrate Godly wisdom? James 3
Do they show that greatness is found in service?
Are they willing to give?
Do they take responsibility for themselves and help others also?
Do they accept the suffering that accompanies loving others?
How do they treat the least of these?
Do they look like Jesus?
Patient, kind, not jealous or envious. Thankful, giving, celebrating the goodness in others.
Reject the ministry of a false prophet. Remembering the wheat and the weeds parable. But remember to not require your leaders to be perfect or else you will run out of leaders!
III. How Will I Follow Jesus?
- Jesus as Lord
Jesus has the right to call us to obedience. We obey His Words. We follow His example.
John 13: 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
- Saying and doing apart from trusting
- Words without trusting in Who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us. (Judas)
James 2: 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
- Works without trusting in Who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us. (Religious leadership)
Romans 3: 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Religious systems that miss the point that we are called to follow Jesus in our daily lives. Jesus Christ is not selling fire insurance at the cost of walking and aisle and repeating a prayer! We are accepting the entire Biblical narrative as true.
God is my creator. My life is to be as He wants it to be. His will is primary over my will. And this can be complicated because our hearts will fight this and even try to confuse our minds that my will is God’s will. All of my life is to be available to God for Him to direct it for His kingdom purposes.
- This is the work of God
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 1: 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
John 1: 43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Acts 16: 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
Recognizing your need for Jesus in order to have life. Trusting Him to meet your need by following His example.