The words of Jesus in the sermon on the plain seem at times disjoined and unrelated. They seem only somewhat connected with each other. However, I believe there is a common thread that ties them all together: discipleship. After all, to whom is he speaking (v.20)? Hence, a disciple who is proactive in love and is does not act as judge or judgmental, will be a good tree bearing good fruit, even the fruit of the kingdom.
Good Tree, Bad Tree
When we look at the fruit of a tree, we can determine quite easily if it is a good fruit producing tree or a bad fruit producing tree. That is what Jesus is driving at; each tree bears its own fruit and cannot bear the fruit of another tree. The contrast Jesus makes is between the figs and grapes and the thornbushes and briers. Jesus’ argument is quite simple: you can’t find fruit on a tree that does not produce the kind of fruit you are looking for.
Good Disciple, Bad Disciple
Thus, based on Jesus’ argument, he concludes the same is true about disciples. A disciple who does not show love and/or is judgmental is not bearing good fruit. Instead, they are full of bad fruit. Jesus sums up the matter and says those disciples who only bring forth bad things is an “evil man.” This type of person has stored up evil (as opposed to good) in their heart. And Jesus gets at the heart of the problem (pun intended): there is something wrong with their heart. It is filled with only evil and not the good. Leon Morris states, “Our words reveal what is in our hearts.” An apt summary of the words of Jesus.
Therefore, what kind of people ought we to be? The kind of people who are storing up the good things of kingdom in our hearts, namely love for all men and mercy to those who need it. Our deeds will show us for the kind of people we are and the kind of heart we have. Our words will do the same. We need to strive to avoid becoming an “evil man” whose mind and actions do not reflect the King and his kingdom.