Matthew 17:12-20


"In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits."


This passage is near the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount and is part of a series of loving and helpful instructions Jesus offers his disciples as they prepare to join in his ministry and understand their own innate spiritual power. The first sentence is, of course, the Golden Rule which, Jesus says, is the essence of all scripture ("the law and the prophets”); it can be found as an integral part of virtually every spiritual path. Verses 13 and 14 warn that this is not a casual stroll they are being called to undertake. Staying in the collective mindset is a wide path, easy to follow and with lots of company. The path of spiritual awareness and commitment is narrow, challenging, and often lonely. And it requires constant vigilance, which is the focus of verses 15 through 20. There will be confusion, and there will be some who insist they know more than we do about what we should be doing, and where we should be going. But the only trustworthy guide is our indwelling Christ, which can discern easily the fruit from the thorns. We should not put someone else's opinion ahead of our own spiritual intuition.


Rev. Ed