Christ builds on his comparison between a false and true prophet by offering a contrast between a false disciple and a faithful one.
Jesus shocks his audience by telling them that on Judgment Day, many people will claim that they did all kinds of good works—even miracles—in his name. These people will insist that their actions entitle them to enter the Kingdom. But Christ will tell them they are not and never have been true disciples: ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (v. 23)
It’s remarkable that seemingly good things done with selfish motives are—in God’s judgment—evil.
Faith without works is dead (James 2:20); but works performed without a living faith are just as lifeless. It’s not what we do that opens the door to the Kingdom; rather it’s what he’s done on our behalf.
Knowing Jesus is the key to Kingdom life.
When we confess our utter inadequacy and accept his saving work on our behalf, we are born again into God’s family. We begin to live on earth as we will in Heaven. Our lives become conduits of his grace and mercy. We forgive others as we have been forgiven. The Law of Love supersedes our need to have our own way. This is the message of the Sermon on the Mount.
So on that day, Jesus will greet us as beloved familiar brothers and sisters, saying, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matt. 25:34b).