Yesterday we left off with Jesus referring to those who listen to “these words of mine,” meaning all that Jesus had been speaking about in the Sermon on the Mount up to that point. So the question we want to begin with today is this: Just what are those “words” to which he referred? What, in particular, are the words of Jesus?
The message(s) of the Sermon on the Mount is powerful, convicting, and even devastating. What’s in the Sermon on the Mount? Are the words and teachings found there relevant to us today…some 2,000 years later. Well…you tell me…
In chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ words focus on…
- Our character
- God’s blessings
- How to influence others
- God’s Law
- The righteousness God expects from us
- Taking Oaths
- Truth Telling
- Going the extra mile for another person
- Loving your enemies
- Giving to the needy
- How to pray
- The Lord’s Prayer
- How to fast
- Treasures in heaven vs. treasures on earth
- Putting God first
- God’s provision for you and your family
- God’s Kingdom
- Judging others
- Persistence in prayer
- God’s goodness to his children
- How to enter into heaven
- True and false prophets and how to tell the difference between them
- True and false disciples of Jesus and how to tell the difference between them.
So you tell me: Is any of that relevant to your life?
Now, to bring his teaching to life as well as to drive home his point about being a faithful disciple, Jesus tells us a story about two builders – one he calls wise…and one he calls foolish.
But before we look at this familiar story, there’s one part of it that may not be so obvious. It’s easy to miss. I know I did for many years. You see, Jesus is not, in this parable, comparing and contrasting a Church-goer from a non-Church-goer. He’s not comparing and contrasting a committed Christian to an outspoken pagan who’s never darkened the door of a church.
I think we would all breathe a collective sigh of relief if that were the case because we would all say, “Whew, well at least he’s not talking about me.”
Now, to be sure, Jesus has plenty to say about the “official” unbelieving world…but that’s not his focus here. In this parable…Jesus is comparing and contrasting you…and the person sitting right next to you this morning. OUCH!
Jesus is talking about two different kinds of people who, for all practical purposes, look just alike in almost every way. To put it in our own language, we could say that both people go to church. Both can recite the Apostles’ Creed and Lord’s Prayer from memory. Both sing every verse of every hymn or song. And both will sit and hear every word of the sermon.
That’s the point that Jesus is making: Both houses that the builders built looked identical with this crucial exception: The foundations were completely different. One builder searched, found, and labored to build his house on a firm foundation of rock. The other took the path of least resistance and built his house in any old place…on nothing but sand. And Jesus will later share why that’s a big deal… and just how catastrophic building your house on the wrong foundation can really be.
So, Jesus calls the builder who built his house on the rock, wise. The builder who built his house on the sand was called, foolish.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look and see what the two different foundations of rock and sand stand for in our lives and why it matters. (Click here to read Part 1 of this series)
Grace and Truth,