Sermon on the Mount
“Wisdom, Prayer, and the Narrow Way”
Matt 7:6-14 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
The Narrow Way
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Let’s first look at verse 6:
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
What a strange and curious statement from Jesus!—we’ve got holy, pearls, dogs, and pigs.
First, both “holy” and “pearls” refers to the precious things of God—such as the gospel, the Word of God, living a clean Christian life, the teachings of Christ, and so on.
Then dogs and swine are illustrations of people who reject, oppose, and abuse Christ, his gospel, and the things of God like prayer, the Bible, the call to living a Christian life, and so on. They are mockers, revilers, and persecutors of the faith.
Peter prophesied, “I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.”—2 Peter 3:3
Jude 1:17-18 “But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires.”
So to carry out Jesus’s dog illustration, these people growl and bark with disgust when approached with the gospel.
And the swine are people who mindlessly trample on the things of God; morally impure people who are corrupt, polluted, profane, obscene, and sensual.
They don’t recognize the precious value of the things of God and so stomp on them. Then after that they turn and attack the messenger!
To sum it up, we should without question take the gospel to the world starting with our own circle of relationships.
But there can come a time when it is clear they have no interest at all but to mock and ridicule you and the message. At that point, Jesus said, walk away and wipe the dust off your feet.
He’s not saying to stop praying for them, he’s just saying don’t waste your time constantly seeking to convince hard, unrepentant hearts who are growling and cursing you. Move on to the next person!
Next, Jesus turns again to one of his favorite topics—prayer. He’s already talked about it in chapter 6:5-15 so it must be REALLY important!
This particular lesson has to do more with perseverance in prayer than anything.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Here we have three key verbs—ask, seek, knock, with the promise that we will RECEIVE what we ask for, FIND what we’re seeking, and the door on which we knock will be OPENED.
All three verbs are in the present tense suggesting continued action—keep asking, seeking, and knocking.
Jesus then uses the illustration of a father to make the point that we should have strong confidence in prayer because of the trustworthiness of God as our very Father in heaven.
“9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?”
He’s pointing to what you would normally expect from earthly fathers. Only a mentally twisted and cruel father would hand a hungry child a rock when he asks for bread. Or a snake if he asks for a fish dinner!
So even fallen, sinful fathers on earth are, on the whole, faithful providers. IF that’s true, then we can count on the faithful provision of our perfect Heavenly Father!
Jesus then brings home his point:
11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
There is no comparison between a flawed earthly father and our perfect Heavenly Father.
So based on God’s unfailing character, Jesus encourages us to boldly ask and keep right on asking, seeking, and knocking as a way of life!
One last thing on these three prayer words—they indicate increasing intensity.
Prayer begins with ASKING as we simply make our requests known to God, and everyone who asks receives.
• Receiving is the reward of asking.
But prayer can also involve SEEKING. The answer requires more effort. We not only ask but then search for what we’ve asked for. Something as simple as looking for the job we’ve prayed for, all the way to seeking God Himself and a better knowledge of His will.
Many, many times in my Christian journey I’ve not just asked but diligently sought out God, His will, and His guidance over some very important provision or decision.
The Prophet Jeremiah wrote: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”—29:13
• Finding is the reward of seeking.
Prayer sometimes also involves KNOCKING until the door is opened, which suggests persevering with even more intensity. We’re not just asking and seeking, we’re persistently knocking on a door until it opens!
And not just the door to His Presence and favor, but the door to what you’ve been praying about—be it a provision of some kind, a door to open for ministry, or a better understanding of a Bible doctrine—the list is endless.
• An open door is the reward of knocking.
Then the last passages we’ll look at this time are Jesus’s message about two roads in life:
“13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
There’s only two gates or entry ways to walk through in life—the narrow gate and the wide gate.
And they lead to only two roads to take in life—the broad road and narrow road.
In Jesus’s day cities were multi-gated. There were wide gates leading to the main avenues. And there were narrow gates for more personal use. These narrower gates were sometimes called the “needle’s eye.”
No doubt Jesus was using these facts for his illustration.
But Jesus is not talking about streets or roads leading to some desired store or to a friends house or to some other town.
Jesus is talking about two roads that decide your eternal future, and the quality of your life here and now.
Every human being alive and listening to my voice right now are on one of those two roads.
The road you’re on will ultimately lead you to a final destination in eternity, and to the quality of life you experience here and now.
Jesus says the wide gate to the wide road represents the way to self-destruction through living only for yourself. “Many go down that road” Jesus said.
It’s wide because in a fallen world there are endless sinful, ill-advised options to choose from, but they all still fall under the umbrella of the wide road.
For instance, RELIGIOUSLY there are a multitude of options—cults galore are all around you, all the way down to New Age spirituality, to the worship of nature, and even worshipping at the altar of self.
But they all lead to the same place—destruction.
PHILOSOPHICALLY there are hundreds of options as well on the wide road. Humanism, secularism, relativism, agnosticism, Darwinism, careerism, existentialism, hedonism, idealism, individualism, and the list goes on.
But they’re all part and parcel of the wide road that leads to destruction.
ILLUS: Like walking onto the midway of the state fair, that wide and crowded road offers a thousand distractions, temptations, allurements, and snares.
Carnival barkers call out to you every few steps to “Try this! Try that! Win your sweetheart a stuffed animal! Show us how strong you are, how good a shot you are, how well you can throw a basketball, or darts, and on it goes. All calling for your attention!
And in life the devil, like the quintessential carnival barker, shouts out to the wide-road travelers to try out the next attraction, the next game, the next challenge and allurement, all designed to keep you on the wide road until you die.
The NARROW ROAD is the opposite. Narrow means “compressed, pressured, restricted, hemmed in between walls or rocks” like the narrow passage way in a mountain trail.
The narrow road is the road of self-denial, discipleship, carrying your Cross, persecution, and swimming upstream against the world, flesh, and devil. Doesn’t sound too appealing does it?
And yet, Jesus said it “leads to life—genuine life in the here and now and eternal life in the here-after!
On the wide road you have temporary pleasure, but not the pleasure of God’s peace.
You have the applause of the world, but not the applause of heaven.
You have hell to look forward to, not heaven.
So though narrow and restricted, the narrow road is the infinitely superior road leading to life!