The Principles of Prayer Illustrated and
Applied. Matthew 7:9-11
Illustrated from Human
"Or what man is there of you, whom, if
his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask
a fish, will he give him a serpent?"
While no one would deny that there are
fathers who have abused or even deserted their families,
Jesus takes His illustration from the usual, ordinary,
family relationship between father and son. In such
familial love it would be unthinkable for a father to give
his son something unsuitable or even poisonous when he
asks for needed food. Bread and fish were staples,
especially around the Sea of Galilee, and a stone and a
serpent (the Greek word is not skorpion, but rather
ophis, snake, or serpent) were common so that this
illustration would not go unnoticed nor be misunderstood.
By the way, in Luke 11:12 a third couplet is added,
"Or if he ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion?" (skorpion).
Now Jesus is ready to take this illustration and apply it
in a remarkable way, to the believerís relationship to
Heavenly Relations. 7:11
"If ye, then, being evil, know how to
give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall
your Father, who is in heaven, give good things to them
that ask him?"
When Jesus calls His true disciples (who
have a heavenly Father) "evil" (poneroi) He
uses a term which He also applied to Satan as "the evil
one" in 5:37; 13:19, 38. But here in 7:11 Jesus is
not referring so much to their evil acts as to
their fallen human natures. Even true disciples
retain their sinful natures until they are glorified. So,
the point is, if true disciples with fallen natures can
express love to their children by giving good (agatha)
gifts, how much more can One Who is intrinsically good,
your Heavenly Father, give good things to His children?
But these good things do not necessarily come
automatically; there must be continued asking (present
tense) which shows a true sense of dependence on, and
confidence in, the Heavenly Father. According to Luke
11:13 it is the Holy Spirit Who is promised to those who
are asking. In light of the fact that the coming of the
Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost to
indwell each believer forever (John 14:16-17), the true
disciple today need not and indeed cannot ask to receive
the Holy Spirit. Paul asks, "What? Know ye not that
your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (I
Corinthians 6:19). Whatever is included in the "good
things" given to us, it is because the Heavenly Father
is the giver, and He cares for His children.
Summary: The all-encompassing standard
for true discipleship in His Kingdom. 7:12
"Therefore, all things whatever ye would
that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them; for
this is the law and the prophets."
Before He gives three final warnings to
those who are not true disciples, Jesus summarizes
in one sentence all He has been teaching in this
discourse, since He came to fulfill "the law and the
prophets" (5:17-18). As many have pointed out, Jesus
is the only one who gives this "Golden Rule" in a
positive manner. Others have said, "Do not do unto
others what you would not want them to do unto you,"
but that is a rather negative approach! Remember also that
Jesus was seeking those who would follow Him as
Messiah/King, and He gave them detailed instructions of
the "better righteousness" required. This final
challenge to His true disciples summarizes the high
standard of the law and the prophets particularly as they
deal with human relationships. It is not written to
the unsaved since there is nothing in this "Golden Rule"
which can save anyone. Otherwise, salvation would not be
by Godís grace, but by our treating fellow men kindly;
this would contradict everything that Jesus said about the
self-righteous works of the scribes and Pharisees, not to
mention what Paul said in Romans 5:1; 11:16 and Galatians
3:10-14. True righteousness has always been by faith, and
it is then evidenced by good works, just as surely
as Ephesians 2:10 follows 2:8-9! There is only one way of
salvation, by grace through faith, and it will remain so
always, until He returns "in the fulness of time!"