Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount with three short illustrations.
There is an easy way to destruction – and a hard way to life. The easy road travelled by many people is not actually populated by obviously immoral people but rather by those who practice the external righteousness of the Pharisees’ law-keeping. Surprisingly for Jesus’ first hearers this path leads to destruction.
The narrow and difficult way is travelled by those people who practice the wholehearted devotion to God spoken of by Jesus – a righteousness of the heart. Theirs is a path to life.
The false prophets, like trees, seem good – they appear as sheep, they do the same kind of mighty works as the Lord Jesus. They prophesy and drive out demons. Like the Pharisees, they would be considered workers of the law – but Jesus calls them workers of lawlessness. Shocking really. Their final destiny – their inner disposition, their inner nature reveals itself ultimately in their fruit – not whole-hearted repentance and faith – and in the final judgement they are cut down and thrown into the fire.
The final illustration is two houses that look the same externally. The difference though is in the unseen deep – the foundations. Like the two trees, everything externally looks the same but the inner disposition, that inner nature is very different. In the final judgement one house remains while the other, in the great storm of God’s judgement, falls – and great was the fall of it.
Below are some quotes from the Puritan Pastor, Matthew Henry
There are but two ways, right and wrong, good and evil; the way to heaven, and the way to hell; in the one of which we are all of us walking: no middle place hereafter, no middle way now: the distinction of the children of men into saints and sinners, godly and ungodly, will swallow up all to eternity. HENRY
Conversion and regeneration are the gate, by which we enter into this way. HENRY
We must go through much tribulation. It is …an afflicted way, a way hedged about with thorns; blessed be God, it is not hedged up. The bodies we carry about with us, and the corruptions remaining in us, make the way of our duty difficult; but, as the understanding and will grow more and more sound, it will open and enlarge, and grow more and more pleasant. HENRY
It leads to life, to present comfort in the favour of God, which is the life of the soul; to eternal bliss, the hope of which, at the end of our way, should reconcile us to all the difficulties and inconveniences of the road. Life and godliness are put together (2Pe 1:3); The gate is strait and the way narrow and up-hill, but one hour in heaven will make amends for it. HENRY