Matthew Lesson 50: Chapter 12:33-42
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt. For the tree is known by its fruit. O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things. And an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word that men speak, they will give an account on the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from You.’ But He answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And now One greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. And now One greater than Solomon is here.
Last week we talked about sinning against the Holy Spirit. God is gracious to us in all sins except when we blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We are told that God will not forgive those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit. It is then very important for people to not claim that the Holy Spirit is doing evil.
We live in a time when the Holy Spirit is accused of doing all kinds of things. People pray to the Holy Spirit and address the Holy Spirit when it is clear in the teachings of Jesus that we are to address the Father for our petitions. Jesus and the Holy Spirit simply have one goal to bring glory to the Father. The Father in turn points us to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
Today we will talk about fruit. Good fruit is what a healthy tree produces and bad fruit is what a sick tree produces. We can also tell what kind of tree it is by the fruit that it produces. A tree that does not produce fruit is of no value to the farmer; it just takes up space and uses resources that a producing tree could use. You will be able to tell what kind of tree it is by the fruit, BUT even more important you will be able to tell the health of the tree by the health of the fruit.
The fruit is a reflection of the tree’s condition. Jesus will use this as a way to teach us about the change that God makes in us when we are saved. When we are saved by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit then the fruit that is produced is good fruit. The fruit that is produced by the unsaved man is bad fruit, always; he cannot do anything in and of himself to change that. His root is bad, thus his fruit is bad. What Jesus and the gospels tell us is that mankind need a renewed root before his fruit can even begin to be good.
Your Root Is Your Heart, Verse 34:
Roots produce stability for a tree, the deeper the root the more stable a tree is. Roots ingest food for the tree, good roots are able to gather good food and keep the tree strong. A tree can look good above ground and appear to be strong, but it will only be as strong as its roots. Jesus had this conversation with a man named Nicodemus in John 3.
Nicodemus appeared to be producing “good fruit” at least to the people, but Jesus told Nicodemus he needed to be “born again,” he needed a new start. His very nature needed to be changed. When we are born we have the nature of our human father, that of sinfulness. It is a part of our DNA so to speak. But when we are “reborn” from heaven by salvation in Jesus we then have the Holy Spirit in us and we are equipped with a new nature inside. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we see this:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
We are a “new creation.” Let that sink in for a while. What you were is passed away and the new man in alive in Jesus. Now you and I can produce ‘good fruit’. We live in such a self-made society and we hear of all these stories of men and women who pulled themselves up and made it; they rose from poverty, sickness, lack of privilege or whatever else had them held down to the prominence that they have now.
There are NO such stories in the kingdom of heaven. There are no self-made righteous people. There is NO one who drew themselves from the clutches of the sin nature to self-righteousness and now is accepted by God on their own merit. There will be no ‘how to make yourself more righteous’ conferences in heaven.
One can only be righteous in Jesus; you need to be covered in His blood as the covering for your sin and you need to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, nothing else holds any currency in the Lord’s kingdom.
Jesus addressed these religious leaders as “vipers.” They were dangerous to their listeners. They appeared to be righteous on the outside and a lot of people are still falling for that today. Also a lot of people think that a person can have some kind of intrinsic holiness because of the position that they hold. Right now we have the Pope touring the U.S.; 50,000 plus people showed up to have Mass with him in the U.S. capital city this week.
People wanted him to kiss their babies and touch them as if he could impute on them. We see the same kind of reactions to the Dali Lama or Ghandi when he was alive; but no such righteousness is available outside of the salvation we have n Jesus. In Jesus we are told in Romans 5:1-2 and 8:1 these two things:
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and so we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
In these verses we find two traits of the redeemed; we are JUSTIFIED, meaning to be declared righteous and there is no CONDEMNATION toward us. The wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal LIFE. So to produce good fruit then we must have these two traits about us. One is not righteous by one’s actions, one is declared righteous by complete renewal and regeneration in Jesus.
Then we are able to produce good fruit because our nature is now good in Jesus. Can an unsaved person produce “good looking fruit”? Yes they can. They are created in the image of God and as such can love their children, love their spouse, serve their fellowman.
Just yesterday I watched an old movie with my mom about Louis Pasture who discovered the vaccine for rabies and anthrax; he also helped doctors to understand the important of washing their hands and boiling their instruments before dealing with a patient. He had a genuine desire to stop the suffering of the masses around him and many of the world’s governments recognized his contributions. We are still being blessed today by his work. For all that, if he did not know Jesus as His Savior his deeds hold no weight with God. His nature is corrupt without Jesus’ transforming power.
A person who is redeemed in Jesus should desire to do good things. God has transformed your core, your very being, given you a fresh start and as such our desires should change. Like any new person, we are growing to the new mind, new root and new goodness of God in us. But it is God who fills us with goodness and it is not of our own power.
On top of that a redeemed person should desire to do good things for the glory of God since he/she understands that they have no goodness of their own. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day and many today seek glory for themselves; they want to make a name for themselves and not for Jesus. Check the fruit, it will give you a good idea of the kind of roots the tree has.
Show Us a Sign, Verse 38
Not much has changed in 2000 years of the New Testament church. People are still looking for a sign. We have entire ministries based on signs and wonders. Many of us are like a doubting Thomas, looking for the nail prints in Jesus’ hand. We refuse to believe unless Jesus does some miracle, we treat Him like a traveling salesman.
“Wow me” if you want me to buy your product. But Jesus offered only one supernatural sign—the resurrection. If that is not enough for you then He has nothing for you. Abraham made a similar conclusion in the rich man and Lazarus.
In Luke 16; 19-31 we find Jesus gives an account of two men. One who was wealthy and the other poor, the wealthy man died and went to hell, a place of torment where he was in flames. The poor man named Lazarus went to a place called Paradise. This is where people went after death before the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.
The man in hell had a conversation with Abraham who was in Paradise as he asked Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to speak to his brothers so that they would not end up in Hell. Abraham says to him they have the Law and the Prophets (our Old Testament Scriptures) but the man is insistent that only one who was raised from the dead will get their attention to which Abraham replies in verse 31 with this reply
“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”
Jesus is not some magician trying to fool you with smoke and mirrors. Jesus resurrected in the middle of Jerusalem in the midst of the Feasts of First Fruits when hundreds of thousands of Jews would have been Jerusalem. He was seen by the twelve, then Paul, then by over 500 other men many of whom many were still alive when the gospels and Epistles were written, see 1 Corinthians 15:5-6:
“…and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”
Folks, here is the scoop if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not enough of a sign of His Lordship and power over death then nothing will be. That is why people in many churches come to see more shows each week, they need flashes and flares to keep their faith propped up. They cannot and often will not simply accept that God will do what He says He will do. They expect God to put on a show for them all the time. They treat Him like a performing circus dog who needs to wow the crowd to keep the money coming in.
God raised Jesus from the dead! If that is not enough for you to put your full trust and faith in then you are in a hard situation because that is the only sign that God gives. So here is my question, where then do all these signs and wonders come from that we see in the modern New Testament churches?
If they are not from God then from whom are they? Does God reveal Himself to us? Yes, he does. He reveals himself to me in His Word, the Bible, yes the Law and the Prophets. But He also fulfills His promises; God feeds my family, He puts a roof over our heads and He sustains us. No smoke and mirrors, no explosions; just His godly faithfulness and the reminder that He has the power over death.
“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah (Matthew 12:39).