“THE FRUIT OF CALVARY FOR YOU”
Saint Matthew 7. 15-23
8th Sunday after Trinity: 10 August Anno + Domini 2014
Fr J. Bill Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
Clothes make the man said someone once…someone who was dressed in nice, new, expensive, and “stylish” clothes. It is a lie. Clothes don’t make the man and neither does the “man” make the man. God makes man. Jesus makes all men: “all things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” [Jn. 1.3] Jesus suffered and died to forgive the sins of all men. Jesus clothes His own in His Baptismal Word and feeds them His inscripturated and His Sacramental Word.
The reason people don’t come to Jesus’ Church is not that they haven’t made the right decision yet. The reason people don’t come is either they have not yet heard the Word, heard the real Jesus, or they have heard and simply do chose to reject Him. People are not gathered around Him because they don’t want to be. And sadly, some people who do find themselves in His sheepfold a Sunday here and there, or even every Lord’s Day, act with the disrespectful and nonchalance of attending a community center puppet show for kids BECAUSE they don’t believe the Words of Institution; they don’t believe “IS” means “IS.”
Maybe the Lord is correct in blaming, and more importantly, warning against, “false prophets.”
A prophet is a “God talker,” specifically a Christian speaker. This rules out applying this text to pagan oracles and heathen deities from Islam, Hinduism, Secular Agnosticism, to Buddhism and more. The Lord’s Words are also not directed at openly knowable heresies, cults, and Christ-less shells such as Judaism, Seventh Day Adventism, Mormonism, and Watchtower Witnessism.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing.” Jesus says it so it is true. The false prophets can be fellow parishioners to be sure. There can be tares amongst the wheat, yes. This does not mean avoid sinners. Everyone from Saint Peter, Paul and the Blessed Virgin are sinners. To avoid associating with sinners would mean avoiding the black-hearted whiner in the mirror. You are of course to be on guard against the heterodox (false teaching) man or woman in your congregation. But Christ is more pointedly talking about the one with authority and oversight. Jesus’ warning against false prophets is aimed at pastors and bishops, the teachers and guardians of the faith, His Faith, handed down to them from the Blessed Apostles.
Beware the false prophet because they are wolves—ravening wolves. Wolves will kill you and eat you. But even worse, the killing will be a spiritual death and the eating will be an endless consumption in hell—where the worm does not die.
Be alert and on watch for these false shepherds because they will not come to you with sharp bloody teeth and blood red “demon-eyes,” but with smiles, soft words, and “sheep’s clothing.”
But like the Berean Christians who “searched the Scriptures daily” [Acts 17. 11] so as to discern the preaching of the Apostle, you too will be able to see through the cleverest and most subtle disguises by the lens of Holy Scripture and the filters of the Symbols of the Evangelical fathers of 1580.
If you don’t know the Scriptures; if you don’t know the Lutheran Confessions, then you are in trouble, in danger to every fad, error, heresy, embarrassment to our Lord’s Body, and blasphemy that the man in the robes or the bureaucrat in the district and synodical “suit” can spin. Grow up from your Sunday School (your CPH) knowledge and your 8th grade hormonally-laced lack of memory “knowledge” and eat the Holy Word daily and the Sacramental and Absolving Word every Sunday! Every means every!
“Ye shall know them by their fruits.” The Christ gives you the key to uncover their chameleon blends and their “sleeper” status. Look to the “fruits.” Don’t look to the world’s measurements and barometers. Don’t judge the orthodoxy, the faithfulness, of the Shepherd by the size of his flock or the largeness of His tent. Don’t judge his fidelity to Christ by the number of initials after his name or the list of published articles and books in his c.v. And most of all don’t judge him based on his personality or lack thereof. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” There are only two trees and neither of them comes from the vision, creativity, or “people-skills” of the pastor. The tree in the garden is the damning tree of sin—the world, the flesh, the devil. The other tree is the Holy Crucifix with Christ’s own Body and Blood given and shed for your forgiveness and your life! Judge the prophet by which tree He constantly sticks in your ears, holds up before your eyes, and places on your tongue! The good fruit is of course healthy and nutritious doctrine—the dogmas and truths of Jesus’ identity and work... “sound doctrine.” The good fruit is the Fruit of Christ Himself—His Body and Blood given in His Eucharistic meal. The Sacrifice of Calvary comes to you in that atoning paschal mystery and it brings you THE Passover but also the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Epiphany, 30 years of unrecorded life and obedience, Holy Baptism, 40 days of desert fasting, 3 year ministry of teaching and healing, Passion Week, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Pascha, Ascension, Pentecost, and today’s Real Presence Visitation in your very midst.
You sin all the time. The 10 Commandments show you this. But more so, you are a sinner…all of Genesis 1-3 and David’s Psalms, and Paul’s teaching letters show you this. But Jesus is your fruit of the vine. Hearing what the God/Man has done to save you; hearing His words “I forgive you, I love you, I give you Peace,” and hearing the Word of His under-shepherd “The Peace of the Lord be with you alway” gives you the lamp to judge the face, the heart and the soul of the prophet standing in front of you. You will know by the words and the mysteries entrusted to him whether he is a ravening wolf or whether he stands in the stead and by the command.
“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
In The Name of The Father and + of The Son and of The Holy Ghost