Now, you go to verse 13 and 14: “Enter ye in at the straight gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because straight is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” You’ll notice the spelling here is not s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t; it’s spelled s-t-r-a-i-t, kind of like you would spell The Straits of Magellan or the Strait of Gibraltar. It’s this narrow, difficult, at times dangerous feeling passageway that’s not broad. Not every road is going to take you where you need to go; no, it’s very specific. Do the things which you have seen me do; not all roads lead to Rome in this context.
So then, in 15 through 20, he talks about false prophets. He gives this command, “Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing. Inwardly they are ravening wolves.” So outwardly, they look calm, like lambs, very gentle, but inwardly, they’re ravening wolves. There are a lot of examples of this in our world today. It’s these people who claim to know more than those set apart by God. We could see that possibly with the CES Letter. We could give another brief example; I don’t know if Jesus had this one particularly in mind, but about a generation before the time of Jesus, there was another man with the same name, Jesus, who rose up and convinced all these Jews in the Galilee region that, because they followed him, they could overthrow the Roman occupiers. It didn’t turn out very well; it turns out the Romans didn’t like the rebellion. So, they captured many of these rebellious people, including this leader, and they crucified them. Thousands of these Jews were killed because they followed a false leader instead of seeking to learn from the real Master. Again, I don’t know if Jesus had this in mind, but Jesus was aware that in every generation of human history, there are people who will teach you whatever you want to hear for their gain, so they can have more power. Look at what Jesus does; does Jesus ever teach things simply so he can get more power? It’s not how he operated. So we have to be careful in our world today that we listen to people who have Jesus’s best interests in mind and not just their own.
Now, this next concept is one that they would have understood probably better than most of us in our context today because these are people who had to live largely off the land to one degree or another. He says, “Ye shall know them;” how do you tell the difference between a good prophet and a false prophet? You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? Do you go to a thistle and start picking figs? No, you know a plant or a tree by its fruits. By the way, figs and grapes were often the desserts and the sweetest things they knew. It’s like the really good stuff. He didn’t mention carrots or potatoes or rutabaga or vegetables; he’s talking about the things that people really are driven to want to eat on a regular basis because of their taste. In today’s society, there seems to be less of a focus on the fruits and more of people looking to the roots and trying to dig up dirt on people and look to the past and say, ‘Well, look at what he did here or there, or what he did wrong here.’ From our perspective, judging people through a cultural lens from the 21st century, looking back in time, and holding all these people in the history of the world accountable for our current perspectives, and by their roots, they’re finding these perceived problems and plucking out the whole tree. I love this idea that it’s by their fruits you shall know them. You partake of the fruits of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Are you going to be able to dig up dirt on past leaders and on past practices on and on history or key events in the church or in any of the scripture characters’ lives? Absolutely, except for Jesus Christ himself; you’re going to find struggles in the roots. But it doesn’t mean that we pluck up the whole tree and throw it out because we’ve identified that that root looks bad. At the end of the day, I don’t know that I’m qualified to tell you which roots are good and which roots are bad anyway when it comes right down to it. But I can tell when something tastes good, when it sits right, when it strengthens me, when I feel empowered to be a better person because of it. I love that invitation from Jesus to judge righteously and to distinguish between false and true prophets by their fruits, not by going into their past and trying to dig up any dirt that we can on them. Trust your gut and the whisperings of the Spirit as you evaluate these “prophets” and other sources in your life such as, a big example of this is the CES Letter.
He finalizes that in verse 20 with a statement to reiterate what he’s taught above: “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
By Dr. Tyler Griffin, Source Expert
Dr. Tyler Griffin embarked on his professional journey by teaching seminary courses for a span of six years in Brigham City, Utah. Following that, he dedicated the subsequent seven years to lecturing at the Logan LDS Institute, located adjacent to Utah State University. Alongside his participation in the Seminary Preservice program, he spearheaded and supervised the implementation of the online seminary program. Dr. Griffin has been an educator at BYU for well over a decade and holds a co-founding position within the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group. His bachelor’s degree is in Electrical Engineering, while both his master’s and doctoral degrees revolve around Instructional Technology. Dr. Griffin serves as the singular author of “When Heaven Appears Distant,” co-author of “Come Unto Me: Illuminating the Savior’s Life, Mission, Parables, and Miracles,” and co-editor of “Millions Shall Rediscover Brother Joseph.”
Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert
Kevin Prince functions as a religious expert and YouTube presenter for the Gospel Learning YouTube Channel. The channel has garnered a subscriber count surpassing 41,000 and has amassed more than 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince is additionally the innovator behind the Gospel Learning App, a trustworthy tool delivering readily available responses to religious questions from esteemed educators globally for those in search of truth.
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