Matthew 7:24-27 – “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” ESV
Jesus concludes His Sermon on the Mount with this parable. It’s actually a very fitting ending to a remarkable teaching to His followers about life in the Kingdom of God. The hearers in the audience were raised in Judaism, whose ancestry went back to Abraham, and they were very familiar with the Law. However, in this sermon, Jesus doesn’t stress the importance of following the Law, but the importance of a sincere heart of obedience towards God.
This parable is short and to the point and needs little interpretation. The message of this parable, is powerful and life changing, and as applicable today as when He first spoke it.
There are two builders. One is wise and one is foolish. The wise man builds his house on a rock, and according to Luke, he dug deep into the rock to lay his foundation. The foolish man built his house on the sand, without laying a foundation at all. The storms came upon both houses, but the house built on the rock, with deep foundations, withstood the storms, while the house on the sand was destroyed.
I read in a commentary on Matthew, that the land of Palestine required that one should be careful about where he chose to build a house. In some areas, the land was filled with gullies, or ravines created by water. In the summer time the sandy hollows of the gullies looked like a great place to build, because of it’s flat surface. However, if you chose that area upon which to build, in the winter you would have raging torrents of rushing water to deal with. If this were to happen, it could literally destroy your house.
Imagine you built your house in a gully thinking that it’s a great place to enjoy the sun and sand, and maybe even the waterfront. You have easy access to the life you enjoy and all is well in the land. Then one day the heavy winds and rain come along and you have to get out as fast as possible to not be carried away with the house. Life isn’t fair! How could God let this happen to you?
Your neighbor, on the other hand, built his house on the hill. When the storm came, he and his family were quite safe in their home. They continued on as usual because their sturdy house, that had it’s foundation in the rock, was secure. Again, you think, life isn’t fair! God loves your neighbor more than you! Does He? Or is there something else going on?
Jesus says it clearly, the wise men is the one who hears His words and does them. The foolish man is the one who hears His words and does not do them. One person is living a life of obedience and the other person is not. Both of these people heard Jesus, but only one of them obeyed Him. Yet, people easily become embittered over a situation of their own making, blaming God, because someone needs to take the blame, other than them!
In the Church, we have both types of people: wise and foolish. They both attend church, read the Bible, memorize scripture, attend conferences, and buy Christian literature. They both look the same, like strong Christians! But when the storms of life hit, they reveal the truth about each and every person. Both had the appearance of a solid Christian faith, because they both heard the word, but only one was able to withstand the storm. The one that withstood the storm had laid the foundation of his house on the Rock; while the other one only looked like he had.
Jesus’ parable is touching a place where we don’t want to go. He lets us know that an intellectual knowledge of Him and His kingdom principles will not sustain you in the tough times. Nor do they represent a commitment to Him. Looking like you are alright, when you are not, will one day expose you for the fraud that you are. It is a life of obedience and heartfelt worship and service that keeps us anchored to the Rock! It is obedience that is the proof of life surrendered to Christ!
The apostles continued this teaching when James wrote that we are to not only be hearers of the word, but doers also. John furthered this teaching by saying we are liars if we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness. Interesting to note, there was no third house mentioned. You know the one, the house of the partially obedient person?
If I tell my child to clean the kitchen, and she only washes the dishes, did she obey me? If I tell my student he can go to the bathroom, but he also went to his locker and got some water, did he obey me? If Jesus tells me that committing adultery is wrong, and I’m not having an affair but I love pornography, am I obeying Him?
Jesus introduced, at the close of His sermon, a radical new way of thinking. He actually revolutionized what following God was all about. It’s not about getting caught up in the rules and being able to recite them, but demonstrating absolute obedience to Him and His way of doing things. Remember, the wise man’s life was secure in Jesus and protected from the storms, while the foolish man’s life was headed for sure destruction. Are you being wise, or foolish? Only you really know the answer to that question! Wonderful Jesus!