Gospel of Matthew 7
“Do not judge, that you may not be judged. 2 For, just as you judge others, you will yourselves be judged, and the measure that you mete will be meted out to you. 3 And why do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye, while you pay no attention at all to the beam in yours? 4 How will you say to your brother, ‘Let me take out the straw from your eye,’ when all the time there is a beam in your own? 5 Hypocrite! Take out the beam from your own eye first, and then you will see clearly how to take out the straw from your brother’s and sister’s.
6 Do not give what is sacred to dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they should trample them under their feet, and then turn and attack you. 7 Ask, and your prayer shall be granted; search, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you. 8 For those who ask receive, those that search find, and to those who knock the door shall be opened.
9 Who among you, when your child asks you for a loaf, will give them a stone, 10 Or when they asks for a fish, will give them a snake? 11 If you, then, wicked though you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, who is in heaven, give what is good to those that ask him!
12 Do to others whatever you would wish them do to you; for that is the teaching of both the law and the prophets. 13 Go in by the small gate. Broad and spacious is the road that leads to destruction, and those that go in by it are many; 14 For small is the gate, and narrow the road that leads to Life, and those that find it are few.
Exploring the ‘Our Father’ Prayer
15 Beware of false teachers: those who come to you in the guise of sheep, but at heart they are ravenous wolves. 16 By the fruit of their lives you will know them. Do people gather grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, too, every sound tree bears good fruit, while a worthless tree bears bad fruit. 18 A sound tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a worthless tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that fails to bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Hence it is by the fruit of their lives that you will know such teachers.
21 Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me: ‘Lord, Lord, was not it in your name that we taught, and in your name that we drove out demons, and in your name that we did many miracles?’ 23 And then I shall say to them plainly: ‘I never knew you. Go from my presence, you who live in sin.’
24 Everyone, therefore, that listens to this teaching of mine and acts upon it may be compared to a wise homeowner, who built their house upon rock. 25 The rain poured down, the rivers rose, the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, for its foundation was upon rock. 26 And everyone that listens to this teaching of mine and does not act upon it may be compared to a foolish one, who built their house on sand. 27 The rain poured down, the rivers rose, the winds blew and struck against that house, and it fell; and great was its downfall.”
28 By the time that Jesus had finished speaking, the crowd was filled with amazement at his teaching. 29 For he taught them like one who had authority, and not like their teachers of the law.
To read Chapter 8 of the Gospel of Matthew, please go to: Dead Bury Their Dead
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Give us this day…
(Gathering the Moment at Hand)
Up to this point in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus has been laying a foundation—one that establishes our relationship to God and his creation. When we recite the beginning of the prayer, we are thus engaging in an act of grounding, reminding ourselves that at the core of our existence we remain rooted in Christ.1
With the foundation complete, Jesus moves on to what many of us think is the business of prayer: asking for things. But as we mentioned in Chapter 2, prayer isn’t about asking for special favors. In fact, it isn’t even about “asking” at all—since, as Jesus says, God already knows what we need before we ask him.2 So what is prayer about? The simplest answer is that it is about gathering and release.
When we think about gathering and Christ, the first image that comes to mind is probably the shepherd. Many of us see Jesus as the “Good Shepherd”3 gathering his lost flock back within the fold of his love. This image is popular because Jesus often used sheep and shepherds as metaphors when he taught. He described those who deliver the gospel of Christ as lambs among wolves,4 and those without Christ’s guidance as sheep without a shepherd.5 He also warned us of embracing false teachers who come in the guise of innocent sheep but have sinister hidden agendas.6
What we don’t usually think about when contemplating gathering is the story of the prodigal son. We talked earlier about how this parable reveals the will of God as a matter of choice. But when we turn our attention to the son, and view the story through his eyes, the parable reveals a different lesson—which is the wonderful thing about parables: like crystals, they reflect new light (insight) as we turn them.
When the young man seeks his inheritance from his father, he doesn’t plead for it. Instead, he speaks with authority: “Father, give me my share of the inheritance.” (A man had two sons; 12 And the younger of them said to his father: ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ So the father divided the property between them. – Luke 15:11-12)) We often overlook that fact. But it is an important one. Because it shows that the son is claiming ownership over something that he believes is rightfully his.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus also speaks with “authority”,7 and says that when we speak in such a way, our Father will dutifully respond. In fact, he claims that God will grant us anything:8 that the dead will rise,9 and mountains move at our command, if we but have the faith of a mustard–seed10 and command it in his name.
This teaching has caused a lot of confusion over the years. Some Christians have taken it at face value and, because of that, acted irresponsibly—such as recklessly barring medical treatment to loved ones (believing that they could heal them through faith alone). Others have disregarded the whole moving mountains thing as just Jesus getting a little carried away with his metaphors. But if we reflect on the teaching a little longer, the true Word begins to emerge.
Let’s begin our reflections by recalling that…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- By the seed which was sown on the good ground is meant the receivers who hear the message and understand it, yielding a return, sometimes one hundred, sometimes sixty, sometimes thirty fold. – Matthew 13:23 [↩]
- When praying, do not repeat the same words over and over again, as is done by the Gentiles, who think that by using many words they will obtain a hearing. 8 Do not imitate them; for God, your Father, knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6:7-8 [↩]
- I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and my sheep know me. – John 10:14 [↩]
- Now, go. Remember, I am sending you out as my messengers like lambs among wolves. – Luke 10:3 [↩]
- On getting out of the boat, Jesus saw a great crowd, and his heart was moved at the sight of them, because they were ‘like sheep without a shepherd’. – Mark 6:34 [↩]
- Beware of false teachers: those who come to you in the guise of sheep, but at heart they are ravenous wolves. – Matthew 7:15 [↩]
- On the next Sabbath, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught them like one who had authority, and not like the teachers of the law. – Mark 1:21-22 [↩]
- Whatever you ask for in your prayers will, if you have faith, be granted you.” Matthew 21:22 [↩]
- Even now, I know that God will grant you whatever you ask him.” 23 “Your brother shall rise to life,” said Jesus. – John 11:23 [↩]
- “For, I tell you, if your faith were only like a mustard-seed, you could say to this mountain ‘Move from this place to that!’ and it would be moved; and nothing would be impossible to you. – Matthew 17:20 [↩]