Today I want to look at verses 24-27 of chapter 7, once again focusing on who Jesus was speaking to, and on the context of the entire message.
“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.”
So first, let's look at how this passage is normally handled, when it is taken in isolation. On the surface it just seems to be about obedience to Jesus. I think most would take this in a works based sense without giving it much thought. But does that make sense in light of the context and the audience? Would Jesus really tell the people who were proud of their own obedience that what they need is more obedience? I don't think so!
Let's look at a few things about this story that I find interesting. The first is the houses. From what we can tell about the houses, they are the same. They look the same. Probably cost the same, for the house itself. They were probably both crafted with care, and expected to last a long time. But what does the house represent? Is it not the lives of the individuals? Their lives looked the same. Maybe they both went to church. Or both gave to the poor. Or both prayed before meals and at bedtime. They were decent, God fearing folk. Probably both got baptized, maybe on the same day, same church, same pastor. But if that is the case, did they both not hear the words of Jesus? Or was Jesus talking about something beyond obedience to external expectations?
What was Jesus sermon about? Was it about being a good person? Was it about external obedience? Or was it about redefining your relationship with God. Was it about moving beyond externals and moving to internals? Think about it. The beatitudes reveal a life that is humble, pure in heart, merciful. He has shifted the burden of obedience from what leaders did to the individuals, and then magnified that obedience to say that it is not just the act (external), but the internal heart that matters. You don't murder? Great! Ever call your brother a fool? Oops! You haven't committed adultery? Two brownie points for you! Ever look at someone with lust? Oops! You love your brothers? Awesome! How do you feel about your enemies? Oops! I sense a theme here, and it is not about your outward behavior. So what does it mean to hear and obey?
The houses were the same, but the foundations with different. One builder was only concerned with the house. Perhaps the only thing he did to the foundation was to smooth it off, which did not require much effort since it was sand. His efforts went into what you could see. The other builder focused on the foundation. I am thinking that a lot more effort goes into building on a rock than on sand. All that work and no one to see it. But the builder knows.
Then come the storms. I note that both houses had storms. The builder on the rock was not exempt from the storm. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend once. We had been sharing our stories. After hearing some of the things I had been through, they remarked, "It's kind of amazing that you still have faith after going through all of that." To which I responded, "No, it is because of my faith that I was able to endure all of that." I am not trying to pat myself on the back, just sharing what I believe. I don't really understand how people who do not have a strong faith, a strong foundation, endure storms. Perhaps this is why so many "lose" their faith. The reality is, they never really had faith.
"I'll take, Jesus will make my life better for 1,000 Alex"
"The clue is, These people look good on the outside, but when trouble comes they quickly fall away."
"What is, Who are people who build their houses on the sand."