Luke 6:43–49 . . . Bible Study Summary with Questions
How Can We Know that We're Genuine Christians?
Last week's coverage of the second part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount dealt first with focuses of "loving our enemies" (vv. 27–36) and "not judging others" (vv. 37–42). In both illustrations, with the latter including for good measure a parable about one's eyes, the need for "betterness" was established by Jesus.
So that we might become physically better, every year or so many of us go to a local medical clinic or doctor's office for a full physical checkup. Along with checking a patient's sleeping and eating habits, exercise program, breathing, and weight gain or loss, doctor's often include exams of the eye, heart, and ears. Many times, as we enter the exam room, we have a confidence with our health based on our own analysis. However, during or after the exam, we likely become more concerned about our body and its variety of functions. At times, our presumptions don't match the exam results.
As important as a yearly physical exam is for the "betterness" of our bodies, Scriptures encourage us to conduct a personal spiritual examination of our faith in Jesus Christ. You might recall what Paul said to the Corinthians in his second epistle: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?" (2 Cor. 13:5). When we've finished our own analysis, we're encouraged to turn to Dr. Jesus and allow him to give us his analysis. Paul did this when the Corinthians sought to examine his faith and ministry (1 Cor. 4:3–4). Therefore it's of the utmost importance that we who think we're Christians allow Jesus to conduct a spiritual checkup of our relationship with him.
Get an Eye Checkup! (vv. 39–42)
Last week, in vv. 39–42, we underwent a revealing eye checkup. Our Lord Jesus was at the peak of his popularity when he began teaching the apostles the principles that would enable them to function in his spiritual kingdom while living in the kingdom of darkness. In his plank-in-the-eye parable, while surrounded by a multitude of people wanting to be physically healed, Jesus wanted to offer them spiritual "betterness."
Jesus' parable illustrated what was familiar to the people from their daily experience. Parables open the eyes of those who want to understand great spiritual truth, but they close the eyes of those with hardened hearts. In this first of three parables, our Lord addressed the false teachings of the Pharisees and their hypocrisy. Our Lord called the Pharisees hypocrites — men who are like actors on a stage wearing masks to play different characters while hiding their true identity. In pointing out the Pharisees' hypocrisy, Jesus exhorted his apostles (then and today) to live a life and ministry marked by humility, indicating visibly that both eyes are clear and can see and teach the secrets of the kingdom of God.
How can we know if we're genuine Christians? We need to lay our lives before the Great Physician, asking him to examine our eyes so that we might be capable of seeing clearly with both eyes so we can bring Christlike vision and life to his people.
Get a Heart Checkup! (vv. 43–45)
Jesus begins his heart exam by saying that there are two kinds of trees that symbolize a man's heart. In time we can expect good fruit from a good tree and bad fruit from a bad tree. In the complementary passage in Matthew 7, Jesus warns his apostles about the Pharisees' character (Matthew 7:15–20).
The nature of the tree determines the kind of fruit one can expect from it. The heart is used figuratively for the hidden character of a person's life. People came to the Pharisees expecting good spiritual food, only to discover that the food was bad. In time they realized that all the trees in the Pharisees' orchard were filled with bad fruit; they ended up as a nation starving for good food in an orchard of bad trees. Our Lord pronounced the Pharisees as false prophets, bad trees, and thorn and briar bushes, which in time could offer only the bad fruit of disappointment and spiritual death. The Pharisees and their false teaching were discerned by their fruit; their bad trees would eventually be cut down and thrown into the fire.
The Lord encourages his apostles to remain true prophets of God, men who make the word of God shine. When spiritually hungry people come to them, they'll be like good trees bearing good fruit as they satisfy the spiritually hungry. On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus told the remaining 11 apostles, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last — and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you" (John 15: 5, 16). When our hearts are rooted in Jesus Christ, our lives will yield the fruit of the Spirit, which always brings life.
What a man produces from his heart, his inner storehouse, whether good or bad, depends on what he carries in it. If what's in the heart is good, its overflow will be good; if the contents of the inner being are bad, what spills out through the mouth will be bad. Whatever a person sets his heart on will sooner or later be revealed in his speech. If we're to know who we are, we must listen carefully to our own speech.
The cure for a heart problem is the good news coming from the Great Physician. King David said, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23–24). When he sinned he turned to his Great Physician and said, "Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:9–10).
How can we know if we're genuine Christians? We must turn to the Great Physician and get from him an eye checkup and a heart checkup. But, to fully complete our spiritual examination, we need him to perform an ear checkup, which we'll learn about in this next parable.
Get an Ear Checkup! (vv. 46–49)
With the Pharisees still in mind, our Lord teaches his followers how to evaluate the difference between the good and the bad and the wise and the foolish. The Pharisees were men who seemed to have excessive amounts of wax in their ears. Although they'd heard the words of God, they didn't act on what they heard. The Lord wants his followers to not only hear the Word of God but to act on what they hear. Jesus was surrounded by people who called him "Lord." But to call Jesus "Lord" isn't an adequate test of genuine Christianity. The true test comes when a person hears God's Word with his inner ear, as recorded in Scripture, and responsibly takes action to follow it using the power of the Holy Spirit. That's the proof that one is a true follower of Jesus Christ.
Our Lord uses the example of a house to represent a person's life. Each person is given life on earth with the choice of how to build the site; he or she can choose to build their lives on a solid rock or on sand. Once the house has been built, it's nearly impossible to tell its quality from the outside. In time, however, every house is tested by: sudden floods; storms and winds of life that appear as trials; temptations; tragedies; illnesses; deaths. Accordingly, each house's stability gets tested.
The Lord distinguishes between the wise man and the foolish man who each build their house. During normal life, both look the same outwardly. The wise man ". . .is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood arose, the river burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well-built" (Matthew 7:24). In the first story, our Lord Jesus said that the wise man built his life on a solid rock. This took time, planning, and effort to dig deeply and firmly attach the building to a solid-rock foundation. The Jewish audience understood what the rock symbolized in their history, for all the prophets spoke of it: Jehovah is the rock that gave birth to Israel (Deut. 32:18); the rock of salvation (Deut. 32:15); the rock of Israel (2 Sam. 23:3); a rock of strength and refuge (Psalm 62:7); the everlasting rock (Isaiah 26:4).
While David says, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14), Jesus says, "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:15–18).
The foolish man not only fails to remove the wax in his ears, he resists having the Lord examine his ears. His house looks strong and secure like the wise man's, but when the storms come, its foundation is strenuously tested and fails to provide requisite stability of life.
[You can see in Warren's commentary on the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders how you become a wise person who builds his or her house on solid rock when you hear the Word of God and obey it. Your house will stand up to any storm!]
How Are Your Eyes, Heart, and Ears Today?
If you're a genuine Christian, you'll have a sincere desire to submit to Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, for his full spiritual check-up. Self-analysis is helpful to a point; but true spiritual health can only come from Jesus Christ, M.D.
___ First, we all need to allow Dr. Jesus to check our spiritual eyes for symptoms of pride and judgment.
___ Secondly, we need to allow our Great Physician to check our spiritual heart for impurities.
___ Third, we need to allow Dr. Jesus to check our spiritual ears for built-up wax deposits that prevent us from acting on the truth we hear from him.
After these three tests have been taken by our Doctor, he'll point out our weaknesses and recommend that we confess our inability to heal ourselves, while agreeing to turn to him for our spiritual healing. If we trust Dr. Jesus, we can be confident that our eyes will be clear to see God's truth, our hearts will be pure to teach God's truth to others, and our ears will be clean and open to hear and act upon God's truth. This spiritual exam is critical in determining our present relationship to him, as well as our eternal destiny. Please submit to the Great Physician for a true and complete spiritual examination. The results of your exams will likely document the difference between your experiencing life with him or death and separation from him, both now and in eternity.
Dr. Jesus is eager to perform your upcoming physical and spiritual exams. No appointment is needed. Call on your Great Physician right now.
- Q. 1 What quality of fruit would your acquaintances say you're producing today: Grade 1-A? So-so? Wormy? No fruit at all?
- Q. 2 During the latest storm to hit your life, what did you learn about the strength or inadequacy of your life's foundation?
- Q. 3 Have you yet personally asked Dr. Jesus to spiritually examine your eyes, heart, and ears? What were the results?
New International Version (NIV)
[To view it in a different version, click here; also listen to chapter 6.]
A Tree and Its Fruit
43"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
The Wise and Foolish Builders
46"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? 47As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."