Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:7–11

Matthew 7:7–11
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

The disciple’s refuge

Though the Old Testament — the Bible to those in Jesus’ time — has plenty of examples of prayer, there was some feeling that God was inaccessible. Living after the coming of Jesus, we feel much closer to God than those who had to approach God through priests and sacrifices.

Jesus enhanced our prayers by directing us to the Father and by promising the Father’s willingness to hear us. The question is not whether the Father will listen; the question is: will we pray?

Anyone who reads the Sermon on the Mount prior to today’s section would agree that it challenges disciples in ways that are daunting. Those who follow Jesus will not live according to this world’s values and will certainly encounter not only temptation but even hostility.

The only way to face such challenges is to take your needs to the Father, and that is exactly what Jesus stresses at this point. He does so using a typical pattern of parallel clauses:

A: Ask and it will be given to you; (7:7a)

B: seek and you will find; (7:7b)

C: knock and the door will be opened for you. (7:7c)

A: For everyone who asks receives; (7:8a)

B: and the one who seeks finds; (7:8b)

C: and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (7:8c)[1]

The letter pairs work together; the first A tells what to do, and the second A tells why. Further, the verbs ask, seek and knock are all in present tense, implying habitual action. As Jesus’ disciples, we take our needs and concerns directly to the Father on a continual basis.

Each of the three verbs (ask, seek, and knock) is a way of referring to prayer. The need for our prayers to be habitual is a strong argument against weighing down prayer with a host of supposed conditions or rules. Prayer to our heavenly Father should be as simple as making a request to our earthly fathers, and Jesus next uses that exact example (7:9–10).

Jesus uses the care of human parents for their children to set up a how-much-more style of argument about the Father’s care for the disciples. Jesus begins by asking that any man in the crowd identify himself if he would give his son a stone in reply to a request for a loaf of bread (7:9). This ridiculous situation comes in the form of a question that expects no for an answer. Jesus then repeats the question by asking if anyone would give his son a snake when asked for a fish (7:10). [Can you imagine the smiling faces at such a crazy idea?]

In Matthew 7:11, Jesus caps his argument by moving from the lesser case (human parents who are all prone to sin) to the greater case (the Father in heaven who always does what is right). If mere sinners care for their children, how much more will the Father care for the disciples!

The Father will care for his own!

The author of Hebrews reminds us, “the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6). This is exactly the assurance and the push Jesus was giving by commanding us to ask, seek, and knock.

The apostle James rebukes believers when he says, “You do not have because you do not ask” James 4:2). We must never neglect speaking to our Father about all of our needs. When we do so, we show our obedience to Jesus and our faith in the kindness of God.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1999) 244.

 

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!