Bible Book: Matthew / Matteus
Chapter: 7
Verse: 7
Verse (to): 14

It is easy to see that these eight verses can be divided into three parts.
(I) Jesus invites his disciples to ask, to seek and to knock (verses 7-11)
(II) Jesus uses a “golden rule” to explain what the essence of the law and the prophets is (verse 12), and
(III) He calls upon them to go through the narrow gate.

That verse 12 is particularly important, is also obvious.

What is harder to notice, is how (whether) these three parts form a unit.  It is often said that verses 7-11 (ask, seek and knock) should be understood against the background of Jesus’ teachings on prayer (6:9-13 – the well-known Lord’s Prayer). When the whole passage of 7:4-14 is read against the background of 6:5-15, interesting lines appear.

· In 6:5-15 Jesus initially advises his disciples against praying in front of (many) spectators, but to rather pray in their rooms (in secret). In 7:7-14 Jesus concludes by warning them about following the broad road and entering through the wide gate. They should rather choose the narrow gate and narrow road that “only a few” find. Jesus emphasises the personal choice for and relationship with God in contrast to winning the favour of the people. Those who have discovered that God sees in secret have no need to seek the favour of others. Followers of Jesus do not follow “the masses”.
· According to 6:14 Jesus explained – directly after the Lord’s Prayer – that our prayer for forgiveness depends on our willingness to forgive. According to 7:12 Jesus pointed out – directly after his invitation to ask, to seek and to knock – that the law and the prophets mean that we have to be prepared to give what we desire ourselves. They who have learnt that God forgives, now also learn that they themselves need to forgive. They who have experienced that God gives to those who ask, seek and knock, know that their fellow men desire the same things, so they learn to give.
That is why we need to develop a new sensitivity towards people. Not a sensitivity that wants to know, “Do other people notice me?” or “Do they like me?” A sensitivity that wants to know, “So if I want forgiveness – whom must I forgive?”, “If I want acceptance – whom must I accept?” or “If I need understanding, support, friendship, etc. – to whom can I offer it?”
In a society where HIV and AIDS are estranging people from one another, there are many “opportunities” to give others what we daily ask and seek ourselves. The aids pandemic (people who live with HIV and aids) are, in a manner of speaking, standing before the church’s (Christians’) doors knocking, seeking and asking, “Do to us what you want done to you.”
Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English