Luke 6:43-49: Concluding Challenges to True Religion
As my introduction to this sermon let me give a quote about conclusions to sermons: ‘The last sixty seconds are typically the most dynamic moments in excellent sermons. With these final words, a preacher marshals the thought and emotion of the entire message into an exhortation that makes all that has preceded clear and compelling. A conclusion is a sermon’s destination. Ending contents are alive—packed with tension, drama, energy, and emotion. This never means bombast and does not necessitate grandiloquence, since deep and powerful thought are often expressed in quiet, sincere terms. Masterful conclusions sometimes thunder, and other times they crackle with an electricity barely audible to the ears, but the best endings always register in the heart.’1 The conclusion to a sermon is the most likely part of the sermon to be remembered so a skilled preacher will work hard to ensure that the sermon ends in such a way to carry the message to such a climax that the listener goes away moved to do what they have now learnt they ought to do. Jesus was the greatest teacher who ever lived and His sermon conclusions have all the ingredients that make for a good conclusion.
We have come to the end of the Sermon on the Plain and all that Jesus has been saying in criticism of the false religion of His day comes to a challenging conclusion. We have entered the parabolic part of the sermon where Jesus uses parables to drive His points home, the picture of the blind guides, the log in the eye, and now we continue in v43-49 looking at two more pictures, the tree and its fruit, and the house and its foundation. Jesus moves through the pictures of being an eye inspector, to a fruit inspector, to a building inspector all in a bid to drive us towards the true service of God. Our last two pictures double as a criticism and a challenge, they critique the prevailing religious practice while challenging us to something better. The last challenge of eye examination was a challenge to avoid the judgemental spirit of the day. These last two challenges expose two other problems in sinful religion, Jesus teaching on the relationship between the heart and its fruit calls us beyond the skin deep religion that resulted in white-washed tombs, a loveless religion that was full of ceremony and pomp and not from the heart. Jesus teaching on the house and its foundation is a challenge to be more than hearers or talkers but doers of the word.