We are nearing the end of this sermon from Jesus and today we are reading what some feel is the scariest verses in the Bible.
“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. 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?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7 v 21-23)
Jesus is not trying to dangle his disciples over the pit of hell forcing more allegiance out of them. Don’t read this in fear and trepidation that you are not going to make it because you haven’t been good enough. It is not to raise doubts like, “I haven’t done the Father’s will! Have I done enough of the Father’s will? I’m not sure I know the Father’s will!”
Let me ask 3 questions.
- Who are you behind the stage?
When the curtains close to rapturous applause who are you?
Not every great communicator, demon chaser and miracle worker have a relationship with Jesus. These wonderful activities in comparison to being known by Jesus are worthless. They may benefit the crowds but there will be a final curtain call and when it is all over what will be left? This whole sermon has been about being different to the religious Pharisee who gives so much attention to the outward appearance in order to be praised and respected. However at the same time this individual ignores true justice, lacks humility and is actually unkind, ungracious and does not show mercy.
- How important is your activity on the stage?
On the 25th April the Academy Awards will be held and many will be hoping for their well-deserved Oscar. Do you think you deserve some awards? What about promotion? Recognition? After all you have done do you feel entitled to opportunities that have not come your way? Look at all those great things you have said, you have really helped people from the demons of their life and you are known by so many who have received miracles because of you. Crowds can change a person. They can give a person a feeling of superiority. They can deceive someone to think they are better than they really are. On that final curtain call, ‘that day’ which will be bigger than any Academy Awards night, there will be a possible reward or rejection, you will either be standing empty handed or carrying your prize. The stage will have given you all the rewards you will be getting. The reward from heaven will be for your life off the stage where you never got earthly applause perhaps and maybe the crowds never saw who you were.
- Are you known off the stage?
“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
The audience of the One is better than the auditoriums of thousands. “I never knew you” is the strongest ‘never’ you can understand. It is ‘never, ever’; it is an absolute and objective denial; it is you have never at any time been a disciple of mine. “You have never opened your heart to me and become vulnerable to my grace, love and mercy”.
The greatest thing of your life today is that you will once again open your life for Him to know you. You will share your struggles, ask forgiveness, ask for strength and you will desire Him. In doing this He will know you. Being known each day will mean these verses will never apply to you. Amen!