The Wise and Foolish Builders
Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount with 4 warnings. Last week, we looked at 3 of those, and today we will look at the final warning.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
In Palestine, where you built your house was very important. The only way it stood standing was if it was built on a rock rather than sand. Jesus, as a knowledgeable carpenter, is very clear that the metaphorical rock is Him and His teachings. Why would you build on sand? It was plentiful, easier, and more convenient. The metaphorical sand is any other person, thing, or idea that we build our lives on instead of Jesus.
Consciously or subconsciously, we are all building the house that is our life every day. The only options for where we build are rock or sand, the teachings of Jesus or everything else. This is an either/or situation, not a both/and situation.
We build by doing.
Our obedience to Jesus is the difference between the wise man and the fool. They both heard, understood, and maybe even agreed. The big difference is what they do with what they heard. Also, the verbs in this passage are in the present tense. This is not one-and-done. You have to keep doing and keep obeying. Jesus’ emphasis in the Sermon on the Mount is doing. The commands of Jesus flow from His wisdom and His love for us. Because Jesus loves us, we desire to love and honor Him by obeying and being like Him. We live in relationship with God in grace-motivated discipleship. All we can offer is an imperfect practice of obedience.
The stakes are high.
Scholars describe the language Jesus uses in this passage as dramatic. He describes complete and utter destruction to the house built on the sand. The storm comes to both houses. All of us experience inevitable trials and tribulations. Most scholars agree that this storm references the day of judgment. The most loving thing Jesus could do is raise the alarm and warn us about the danger of building our lives on something other than Jesus.
How did the audience respond to the words of Jesus?
They were amazed. That Greek word doesn’t mean impressed it means overwhelmed. They were overwhelmed because He taught with authority. This is the defining characteristic of Jesus in the New Testament. Nothing says no to Jesus. Demons, diseases, natural disasters. He commands them all. But people say no. Many people Jesus spoke to that day in Galilee said no to following Him and people today still say no. Why, unlike everything else in creation, can we say no? Because we are in a relationship with Him by faith. Jesus will not force you to follow Him or live under His authority or build your life on His teaching. But He invites you. You have to choose how to respond. Will we choose to follow Jesus and submit to His authority with everything?
Be with Jesus to learn from Jesus how to be like Jesus.