10 Observations on the Most Harrowing Verse in the Bible

May 23, 2016

Matthew 7:21-23

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!’


This is perhaps the most haunting, harrowing text in all of the Bible. Here are ten observations as to what it may be about.

1. Many will say to Jesus, “Lord, Lord.” Some will enter the kingdom of heaven. Some will not. Just because one thinks they know Jesus does not mean Jesus actually knows them.

2. The ones who say, “Lord, Lord,” and who do the will of God will enter in. The others will not. We really really want Jesus to recognize and know us.

3. The will of God cannot be equated with doing good works in the name of God. (i.e. prophecy, exorcisms, miracles in Jesus name)

4. Doing the will of God, at the very minimum, means being known by Jesus.

5. Doing works in the name of Jesus without being known by Jesus is tantamount to doing evil. (hard teaching!)

So the BIG QUESTION: What does it mean to be known by Jesus?

6. Jesus does not recognize our resumes. Our resume of kingdom accomplishments is not our ticket to the “J-Train.”

So back to the BIG QUESTION: What does it mean to be known by Jesus?

7. Jesus knows those who follow him.

8. Following Jesus does not mean doing extraordinary feats for God as he so often did and does. There is absolutely nothing in THE SERMON about such things, as good and helpful as those things may be.

9. Following Jesus and being known by Jesus means walking in his way and truth and life, which he has spelled out for us in THE SERMON.

10. Following Jesus and being known by Jesus means becoming increasingly like Jesus through imitating him in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is why I think John Wesley has so much to offer us in his Thirteen Discourses on the Sermon on the Mount. THE SERMON infected him in a way he never recovered from. He “got it.” Hear him on this point at hand about who Jesus recognizes as one of his followers:

He is poor in spirit; knowing himself even as also he is known. He sees and feels all his sin, and all his guilt, till it is washed away by the atoning blood. He is conscious of his lost estate, of the wrath of God abiding on him, and of his utter inability to help himself, till he is filled with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. He is meek and gentle, patient toward all men, never “returning evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing,” till he overcomes evil with good. His soul is athirst for nothing on earth, but only for God, the living God. He has a heart of love for all mankind, and is ready to lay down his life for his enemies. He loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his mind, and soul, and strength. He alone shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, who, in this spirit, does good unto all men; and who, being for this cause despised and rejected of men, being hated, reproached, and persecuted, rejoices and is “exceeding glad,” knowing in whom he has believed, and being assured these light, momentary afflictions will “work out for him an eternal weight of glory.”

Jesus is not looking for employees. He wants friends. The kingdom of God is not about “getting things done,” but love, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. That’s how he builds a kingdom.

Daily Text MATTHEW 05-23-16


1. Do you see the difference between us thinking we “know” Jesus and actually being “known” by Jesus? Reflect on that.
2. What does it mean to you to be “known by Jesus?”
3. What would it look like for you in the days ahead to become more known by Jesus? We often say we want to know Jesus more, but have you considered simply inviting him to know you more? Why not?


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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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