Matthew 7:15-20

–from Megan Ramer

Fruits of the Spirit: When asked by John the Baptist’s disciples whether he is the Messiah or whether they are to wait for another, Jesus responds by inviting them to report on the fruits of his ministry: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive their sight…the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me” (Luke 7:22-23). When would-be disciples wanted to ask Jesus questions about his ministry, he replies with an invitational, “Come and see” (John 1:39).In his Sermon on the Mount warning against false prophets, Jesus elaborates that good trees bear good fruits, and that “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).

Repeatedly, Jesus invites the skeptical to come and to see and to make judgments based on the fruits born of an individual, a ministry, a community. So, while Peter is shocked when the Spirit falls on the Gentiles in the most fascinating saga of Acts 10-15, he has Jesus as a precedent and cornerstone for recognizing God’s presence and blessing by the fruits born of unlikely others: “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47). This testimony lays the foundation for the eventual decision of the Jerusalem Council to welcome Gentiles into the fold without requiring of them circumcision.