The Jewish clergy sought to block those seeking to enter through the narrow gate. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in.” (Matthew 23:13) The Pharisees’ method was just as Jesus warned. They would “cast out [his disciples’] name as wicked for the sake of the Son of man.” (Luke 6:22) Because the man born blind and healed by Christ believed that Jesus was the Messiah, they expelled him from the synagogue. His parents would answer no questions because they feared expulsion from the synagogue. For the same reason, others who believed Jesus to be the Messiah hesitated to admit it publicly.—John 9:22, 34; 12:42; 16:2.
“By their fruits you will recognize them,” Jesus said. “Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-20) The same rule applies today. Many of the clergy of Christendom say one thing and do another. Though claiming to teach the Bible, they subscribe to such blasphemies as the Trinity and hellfire. Others deny the ransom, teach evolution instead of creation, and preach pop psychology to tickle ears. Like the Pharisees, many of today’s clergy are money lovers, fleecing their flocks of millions of dollars. (Luke 16:14) All of them shout, “Lord, Lord,” but Jesus’ response to them is: “I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.”—Matthew 7:21-23.
Today, some who once walked the narrow way have ceased doing so. They say they love Jehovah, but they are not obeying his command to preach. They say they love Jesus, but they are not feeding his sheep. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; John 21:15-17; 1 John 5:3) They do not wish to be yoked with those who walk in Jesus’ steps. They found the cramped road too cramped. They wearied of well-doing, so they “went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us.” (1 John 2:19) They went back into darkness, and “how great that darkness is!” (Matthew 6:23) They ignored John’s plea: “Little children, let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth.”—1 John 3:18.
Jesus concluded his Sermon on the Mount with a dramatic illustration: “Everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them will be likened to a discreet man, who built his house upon the rock-mass. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass.”—Matthew 7:24, 25.
In Palestine heavy rains could send waters racing down the dry torrent valleys in destructive flash floods. If houses were to stand, they required foundations on solid rock. Luke’s account shows that the man “dug and went down deep and laid a foundation upon the rock-mass.” (Luke 6:48) It was hard work, but it paid off when the storm came. So building Christian qualities upon the sayings of Jesus will be rewarding when the flash flood of adversity strikes.
The other house was built on sand: “Everyone hearing these sayings of mine and not doing them will be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and struck against that house and it caved in, and its collapse was great.” So it will be for those who say “Lord, Lord” but fail to do the sayings of Jesus.—Matthew 7:26, 27.