6. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

Matthew 7:16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

Read: Matthew 7:15-20; Luke 6:43-45

notice larger context in Matthew – chapter begins with “Judge not”, now teaching about criteria for “judging” (root word κρίνω, Eng. derivative criterion, critique, criticism)

Setting: same hillside near Capernaum (Luke 7:1), near beginning of formal ministry

continuing the first formal “Bible School class” for the Disciples – Jesus the teacher (Matt. 5:2), they the students (Luk. 6:20)

class took place in hearing of “great multitude of people”

appears to be same setting in both Gospels

Person(s) being questioned: the Twelve… directly (Matt. 5:1-2; Luke 6:13ff), but for all present to hear

will be going out on ministry in pairs, representing Jesus, carrying his message, having some measure of authority

need: discernment, distinguishing between right/wrong, helpful/harmful

Question behind the question:

Does character matter?

Will true character be evident?

Should we try to gather nourishment from what cannot nourish and only irritates?

Expected response:

of course not; should not expect to be able to do so

thorns and thistles cannot produce fruit so they don’t

those who try will be disappointed

Jesus’ point:

a plant produces according to its character, its nature

same is true for people

fruit may appear healthy and wholesome outwardly, have a rotten core

same is true for people

consider Gen. 3:18; also 2 Cor. 11:13-15

Modern Application:

must be discerning: those we heed, those we lead, those we feed

heed – seek out who/what will edify, don’t waste time on the rest

lead – pay attention to kind of fruit produced, question/challenge what is suspect

feed – look for good fruit production; and… if fruit remains bad, perhaps tree is bad (need evangelizing, not discipling)


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