Now this is a scary passage, or should I say, could be? Jesus is talking to some people who address him as “Lord, Lord” (the repetition tells you something). They “prophesy” in his name so they must be like preachers, or TV evangelists. They perform “miracles” and you can’t do that by yourself. They even “drive out demons” while intoning the sacred name. Yet Jesus labels them “evildoers” and says he never knew them. I believe that he meant that in an eschatological sense (referring to the final judgment).
So lets think about these reprobates – what they were doing, what they should be doing, and what will happen if they don’t take this warning to heart. Well, we already listen to what they were doing: they sanctimoniously address Jesus as Master of all. He is their LORD. Hmmn – In spite of the fact that they claim to be his spokesmen, drive out demons, and work miracles, when the day of judgment comes Jesus will tell them in no uncertain terms that he never had any genuine personal contact with them (“knew”) and pronounce the verdict, “Away with them.” What would be the contemporary counterpart to this bunch of hypocrites? I’ll leave that with you.
What is it then that they should be doing? Looks like they are putting on a great show. Who could do more than that? Well, Jesus says the only people that will enter the kingdom of heaven are the ones who do the will of his Father in heaven (v. 21). The key to eternal life in heaven is doing here on earth those things that please God. It doesn’t say “meet his expectations” but “live a life that is pleasing in God’s sight.” Put another way, “Don’t do it unless in your imagination God is breaking out in a smile.” That’s what I do when I am pleased and I’m simply a born–again sinner.
And what will happen if they don’t? They will not enter God’s kingdom. That expression refers primarily to God’s eternal rule in heaven but it also has something to do with what we call the present. God’s kingdom can be understood in a qualitative sense as the experience of his reign and rule, his complete control, a situation where everything operates as exactly the way he has planned it. In that sense we can right now be “in his kingdom,” enjoying the rich perfection of his plan for each of us and looking forward to that time when all who “do the will of their Father” stand in awe before the King of kings.