Matthew 7 does not, at first, glance seem to flow from what precedes. The scene shifts quickly from a discussion of wealth and provision to a section on judgment, to a section on prayer, to the Golden Rule.
Perhaps the section on judgment (Matt. 7:1-5) follows as Jesus brings the sermon to a close because those who take the high standards of the sermon seriously may be tempted to be judgmental toward those who don’t meet the Sermon’s standards. Jesus warns them to take stock first of their own condition before God.
Matthew 7:6 serves as a corrective toward any who read 7:1-5 as a rejection of all discernment.
The section on prayer (Matt. 7:7-11) is fitting toward the conclusion of a sermon that makes such high demands. Disciples will certainly need God’s aid if they are to live according to his expectations. Jesus’ words encourage his disciples that God is generous in answering his children’s requests. This kind of encouragement may be especially necessary because our progress in sanctification so often seems slow and our prayers for the mortification of sin may seem to go unanswered. Jesus assures us that if we ask, it will be given us; if we seek, we will find; if we knock it will be opened. Our heavenly Father gives good things to those who ask him.
The Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12) provides a fitting summary to the body of the Sermon. Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17). Here he says the Law and the Prophets can be summed up in this way: “Whatever you wish that others would do for you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” What comes between are the details of how this works out in the kingdom age.
These details are somewhat different than those of the Mosaic age. But the difference is not due to the abolishing of the law and the prophets. If anything, the Sermon outlines higher standards to which the Law and the Prophets pointed. The continuity is emphasized in that those who obey Jesus’ words in this Sermon in the end fulfill the second great commandment in which the whole law is fulfilled (Gal 5:14; Matt. 7:12).