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Ask, Search, Knock

7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Golden Rule

12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

The Narrow Gate

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

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Prayer (Mt 7:7-11). Enough, one might think, had been said on this subject in Mt 6:5-15. But the difficulty of the foregoing duties seems to have recalled the subject, and this gives it quite a new turn. "How shall we ever be able to carry out such precepts as these, of tender, holy, yet discriminating love?" might the humble disciple inquire. "Go to God with it," is our Lord's reply; but He expresses this with a fulness which leaves nothing to be desired, urging now not only confidence, but importunity in prayer.

7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you—Though there seems evidently a climax here, expressive of more and more importunity, yet each of these terms used presents what we desire of God in a different light. We ask for what we wish; we seek for what we miss; we knock for that from which we feel ourselves shut out. Answering to this threefold representation is the triple assurance of success to our believing efforts. "But ah!" might some humble disciple say, "I cannot persuade myself that I have any interest with God." To meet this, our Lord repeats the triple assurance He had just given, but in such a form as to silence every such complaint.

8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened—Of course, it is presumed that he asks aright—that is, in faith—and with an honest purpose to make use of what he receives. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering (undecided whether to be altogether on the Lord's side). For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord" (Jas 1:5-7). Hence, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (Jas 4:3).

9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread—a loaf.

will he give him a stone?—round and smooth like such a loaf or cake as was much in use, but only to mock him.

10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?—like it, indeed, but only to sting him.

11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him!—Bad as our fallen nature is, the father in us is not extinguished. What a heart, then, must the Father of all fathers have towards His pleading children! In the corresponding passage in Luke (see on Lu 11:13), instead of "good things," our Lord asks whether He will not much more give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. At this early stage of His ministry, and before such an audience, He seems to avoid such sharp doctrinal teaching as was more accordant with His plan at the riper stage indicated in Luke, and in addressing His own disciples exclusively.

Golden Rule (Mt 7:12).

12. Therefore—to say all in one word.

all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them—the same thing and in the same way.

for this is the law and the prophets—"This is the substance of all relative duty; all Scripture in a nutshell." Incomparable summary! How well called "the royal law!" (Jas 2:8; compare Ro 13:9). It is true that similar maxims are found floating in the writings of the cultivated Greeks and Romans, and naturally enough in the Rabbinical writings. But so expressed as it is here—in immediate connection with, and as the sum of such duties as has been just enjoined, and such principles as had been before taught—it is to be found nowhere else. And the best commentary upon this fact is, that never till our Lord came down thus to teach did men effectually and widely exemplify it in their practice. The precise sense of the maxim is best referred to common sense. It is not, of course, what—in our wayward, capricious, gasping moods—we should wish that men would do to us, that we are to hold ourselves bound to do to them; but only what—in the exercise of an impartial judgment, and putting ourselves in their place—we consider it reasonable that they should do to us, that we are to do to them.

Mt 7:13-29. Conclusion and Effect of the Sermon on the Mount.

We have here the application of the whole preceding discourse.

Conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 7:13-27). "The righteousness of the kingdom," so amply described, both in principle and in detail, would be seen to involve self-sacrifice at every step. Multitudes would never face this. But it must be faced, else the consequences will be fatal. This would divide all within the sound of these truths into two classes: the many, who will follow the path of ease and self-indulgence—end where it might; and the few, who, bent on eternal safety above everything else, take the way that leads to it—at whatever cost. This gives occasion to the two opening verses of this application.

13. Enter ye in at the strait gate—as if hardly wide enough to admit one at all. This expresses the difficulty of the first right step in religion, involving, as it does, a triumph over all our natural inclinations. Hence the still stronger expression in Luke (Lu 13:24), "Strive to enter in at the strait gate."

for wide is the gate—easily entered.

and broad is the way—easily trodden.

that leadeth to destruction, and—thus lured "many there be which go in thereat."

14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life—In other words, the whole course is as difficult as the first step; and (so it comes to pass that).

few there be that find it—The recommendation of the broad way is the ease with which it is trodden and the abundance of company to be found in it. It is sailing with a fair wind and a favorable tide. The natural inclinations are not crossed, and fears of the issue, if not easily hushed, are in the long run effectually subdued. The one disadvantage of this course is its end—it "leadeth to destruction." The great Teacher says it, and says it as "One having authority." To the supposed injustice or harshness of this He never once adverts. He leaves it to be inferred that such a course righteously, naturally, necessarily so ends. But whether men see this or no, here He lays down the law of the kingdom, and leaves it with us. As to the other way, the disadvantage of it lies in its narrowness and solicitude. Its very first step involves a revolution in all our purposes and plans for life, and a surrender of all that is dear to natural inclination, while all that follows is but a repetition of the first great act of self-sacrifice. No wonder, then, that few find and few are found in it. But it has one advantage—it "leadeth unto life." Some critics take "the gate" here, not for the first, but the last step in religion; since gates seldom open into roads, but roads usually terminate in a gate, leading straight to a mansion. But as this would make our Lord's words to have a very inverted and unnatural form as they stand, it is better, with the majority of critics, to view them as we have done. But since such teaching would be as unpopular as the way itself, our Lord next forewarns His hearers that preachers of smooth things—the true heirs and representatives of the false prophets of old—would be rife enough in the new kingdom.