Matt 7:24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 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. 26 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. 27 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.”
28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Things aren’t always what they seem. There is often a significant difference between the external appearance and the internal reality. This was definitely true of Jesus, an unknown carpenter’s son from Nazareth, who turned the world upside-down. How could something so small wield such incredible power? This question/theme is at the heart of Jesus’ sermon and at the heart of the gospel as well.
When Jesus began to preach this Sermon on the Mount, it was to a crowd of people who hadn’t heard from God in 400 years. They were just beginning to get reestablished after being taken into exile. In their minds thekingdom of Godwas more of a past reality than a present one, but they had great hopes that it was going to be rebuilt and reestablished. They were looking for their Messianic hope.
John came, and he definitely didn’t fit the mold. He looked like a wild-man; He slept out in the wilderness, he ate bugs and when he came out to preach he didn’t sound like a revolutionary. He called the people to repentance, he confronted their sin, he even called out the man who called himself king (Herod). John was sent by God to prepare the people for the ministry of Jesus, the coming of the Kingdom that Jesus was ushering into existence.
But that is not what the people saw. They saw another spiritual leader who was likely to be overwhelmed by the political system. Ever since the days of Solomon, the Kingdom had been in decline. It was fragile and had even come to a complete end. But God had raised up the Kingdom out of the graveyard. He had made dry bones live.
But the kingdom was still fragile, like a house built on sand facing a storm. The people wanted God to restore the kingdom, but it needed to be stronger than the ones before it. It needed a solid foundation, a powerful king and the power of God. But Jesus didn’t seem to fit that mold at all.
Jesus didn’t ride in on a war chariot holding a battle standard. He didn’t come to them with a vision for how to re-establish the nation of Israel to its former glory, with himself at the head. He came to them from Nazareth, surrounded by a group of nobodies and when He spoke about the Kingdom it sounded odd.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed are the mourners, the meek, hungry, merciful, peacemakers, who rejoice when they receive persecution.
This is enough to confuse anyone, especially this crowd of Jews. But underneath the confusion was longing and hope. They had heard stories about this man and what He had done in Galilee and Capernaum. He had healed people. His preaching was like nothing they had ever heard; it was very different from the Pharisees and Scribes.
He taught them that the law went deeper than the standard superficial obedience that was so common; and it did this because our sin lies deeper than our physical acts, all the way down to the heart. He taught them about what a true relationship to God looks like, how it shapes our identity, our theology and our activity. He taught them how the grace of God turns us into the people of God and helps us love our neighbors the way God loves us.
In the end, Jesus is giving a picture of His Kingdom and He is inviting the crowd to join Him in that Kingdom. At the broadest level, this entire sermon is an invitation. He invites us to enter the Kingdom of God by the narrow gate, to walk the narrow road and to build our lives upon the rock of His word.
This is the final sermon in this series and it is the final invitation of Jesus message. We have spent 24 weeks studying the words of Jesus in this sermon and the question that God wants to press on our hearts today is, “Will you build your life on the Word and work of Jesus?”
I. Two Houses
There is a connection between vv. 21-23 and our passage today. Last week, we saw that there are some similarities between true and false Christians in that they both affirm orthodox doctrine, they are emotionally involved, and they perform acts of service. These are the things that appear on the surface, but underneath was saw that the differences lay at the heart. True disciples love Jesus, they submit their will to His will and their confidence is not in their works but in His Alone.
Two followers but only one is true; things aren’t always what they seem. Here we learn that there are two houses built by two different people. On the outside the houses look the same, but what matters is what you don’t see, the foundation.
It may be that the two men who set out to build these homes were actually friends who decided to build their homes at the same time, so they could start their families together. They would build their homes using the same plans and they must have built them in the same location. Why do I think that? Because both homes are subject to the same conditions, the same storm and the same flood. They may have even been neighbors.
They both worked to build a house that would stand and provide a place for their families to enjoy life. Their kids would play together outside. Their wives would turn the house into a home and enjoy watching their kids grow up together. The men would share tools and help one another on projects. From the street view everything looked fine, normal, secure.
But the point of Jesus’ story is not to major on the similarities, but to show the fundamental and deadly differences. One man was a wise builder and the other was foolish. The foolish builder made a terrible decision, not at the end of construction, but at the very beginning. The foolish builder failed in the most critical decision. He failed to build his house on a proper foundation.
Now, obviously this story is a metaphor where Jesus is comparing short-term construction planning with long-term life planning. We are all builders and what we are building is the hope of our life. And the question is what foundation is your life is built upon? What are the faith commitments that you are resting your eternal hope in?
It doesn’t take much imagination to think of two families on your street. From the curb they look very similar; a house, a family, an SUV and a golden retriever. But beneath the outward appearance is a hidden foundation made up of faith commitments, beliefs about truth and eternity.Once again, Jesus is going to anger the universalists when he says that the only sure foundation that will weather the storms of life and judgmentis the foundation built upon Him.
Matt 7:24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 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.
There are many options out there for us to consider. We could put our hope in ourselves as a materialist and seek to gain all the happiness that this life can afford. But what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul (Luke 9:25)?
We could put our hope in our moral performance and seek to obtain eternal life through good works. If this is your decision you have many different religious paths to choose from: Mormonism, Islam, Catholicism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hinduism, etc. But by the works of the flesh no human being will be justified in the eyes of God (Rom 3:20).
Or you could hear the words of Jesus and build your life upon them. Notice that the wise man is the one who hears the words of Jesus and does them. If you want to be wise and prepared for the storm that is coming, hear the words of Jesus and submit your life to them. Jesus puts Himself and His teaching at the very center of the decision that He wants us to make.
He wants us to abandon any hope but Himself.He wants us to abandon any teaching but His own. He wants us to pay attention to His word and let it become the sole foundation for our lives. He wants us to be teachable and eager to learn the Scriptures. He also wants us to be eager to obey, eager to grow in repentance and faith, eager to grow to be more like Him.
Jesus says that He and His Word is like rock (Petra), a massive formation of stone beneath the surface. Jesus is bedrock and everything else is sand.
Like Paul in Philippians 2, Jesus wants us to understand that any foundation that is not Christ Alone is doomed to crumble. Paul had lived an incredibly moral life. He had an impeccable religious heritage. He was a great student, a great leader, an up-and-coming star on the roster of the Pharisees.
If you compared him to another man you would quickly come to find that Paul was better in every regard. He was devoted to prayer and to religious practices. He would tithe and fast and study his Bible and sit around the table arguing fine points of theology and religious belief. He was faithful to attend the synagogue; he had the perfect attendance award for his participation in Saturday school. This guy was legit but there were cracks in his foundation.
Some of us are in the same boat. Comparatively we are better than our neighbors. We don’t do bad things, at least not where someone can see them; and we try more than others to do good things, especially when others can see them. We consider ourselves good and feel that if we put our bad deeds on one scale and our good deeds on another we will easily get by on the abundance of our good deeds.
But when Paul heard the good news of Jesus he recognized that this foundation was worthless.
Phil 3:7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…
(Appli. Now this is where we need to pause and understand what is at stake. All the things that Paul once banked his hope on where good things and some of them were commanded by God. The problem was that Paul believed they were able to bring him into right relationship to God.
God has given us two great gifts: One is His Word/Law. His word stands as a witness to the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, the goodness of God and the justice of God. We wouldn’t know God at all if He had not given us His Word. But His Word/His Law is not a checklist for how we make ourselves clean. The law is a gift from God and one of its purposes is to show us our need for another greater gift…a Savior.
The law is a mirror to reveal how much we need to be cleansed of sin, it is a tutor meant to lead us to understand our need for a savior, it was our babysitter to keep us safe until our Savior showed up. Jesus is the one who takes away our sin by giving his life in place of ours. Jesus is the one who washes us clean and gives us his righteous robe so that we are able to come into the wedding feast. Jesus is the gift of God who becomes the foundation that will bring us safely through the storm.
The law is a gift and it has its purpose, but that purpose is not to save us. It points us to our need for another gift, that of a savior. Paul came to understand that he was wrong about the law and he was able to see Christ was His only hope.
Paul heard the words of Christ and He obeyed them, He put all of his hope in Jesus.
But not everyone will make the same decision.
26 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. 27 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.”
This man/these people hear the words of Jesus, but they don’t obey them. They hear the gospel, but they decide to stick with their own foundation. Every ambition a man cherishes, every thought he conceives, every word he speaks, and every deed he performs is a building block in the structure of his life. But it can all fall to the ground if the foundation of your life is not solid enough to hold it.
Someone may say, “What does it matter what the foundation of my life is, so long as I live the right way, care for my family, pay my taxes, love my children, and try to leave the world a better place?” If we do the comparison game many of us would feel that we have everything under control. But the problem with that game is we are all laughably outmatched.
When we compare ourselves to other men we tend measure up pretty well. They may beat us in some categories, but we beat them in others, so it evens out. But when we compare ourselves to God…the game is over. We lose every time, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We can’t hope to match up to the glory of God, but everyone who hears Jesus and goes his own way is doing just that. They are trying to stand up to the scrutiny of God’s judgment on their own.
Why is it important for you to give serious consideration to the foundation of your life? Because the storm is coming.
II. One Storm
27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house,
I think in context the storm is a reference to the storm of Judgment, which Jesus already brought up in verse 22 (on that day). We looked at this last week and were reminded from all of Scripture that a day of judgment is coming. On that day, the holy wrath of God will be unleashed upon the world and every foundation of man will attempt to stand up to the might of our Heavenly Father. But they will all fail.
Jesus tells us that the only foundation that will stand up under the Father’s wrath is His own. The storm of God’s judgment will be so terrifying that men will seek to hide in caves and will even cry out for the stones to cover them. But those rocks won’t save them. The only rock that can save is Jesus and you must build your life upon Him before the storm arrives.
Some would have us consider that the storm that Jesus is referring to are the troubles of life here and now. Perhaps, we could compare this parable to Jesus’ parable of the soils where the cares of this world, the persecution of faith and the work of Satan are the storms we face. Either way, Jesus point is clear. Any foundation other than the word and work of Jesus are doomed to fall. But if you will build your life and your eternal hope on Jesus word and work, you will stand.
Will you build your life, your hope, your eternity on the Word and work of Jesus? I know that many of us, in fact most of us, have come to see that Jesus is the only hope we have for enduring the judgment to come. We know our righteousness will never stack up and we know that our sinfulness is far too great for us to bear alone. We know the standard of God’s judgment is His own holiness and we have abandoned the common notion that we can save ourselves.
So, our eternal hope is not in ourselves but in Jesus, and it doesn’t stop there. We have also decided to follow Him and let His Word guide our lives. We want to be the first to seek forgiveness, the first to go to the Scriptures, the first to step up when there is a need. We want to show grace to those who don’t deserve it because in Christ God has shown us grace and we certainly didn’t deserve it.
We know that following Christ and seeking to live a godly life in Christ will bring challenges, enemies and persecution, but that’s okay. After all, where shall we go, “Jesus has the words of eternal life.”
2 Cor 4:8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
We can face the storms of this life and the storm to come, because we know the one who controls the storm.
(Illus…A man and his wife were in a boat crossing to the other side of a large lake when a great storm arose. The storm came on them unexpectedly and before long the woman began to fear that their boat would soon go under. But all the while her husband did nothing and this was odd because her husband was a warrior who had spent much of his life on the water.
When the situation seemed hopeless she began to cry out to her husband for help. She said, “Aren’t you afraid? Isn’t there something that you can do? Will you do nothing?”
In response, her husband drew his sword, held it up in front of her face and asked her, “Are you afraid?” In the midst of her fear she laughed saying, “Why would I be afraid of you? As long as the sword is in your hands I have nothing to fear because I know that you love me.”
He smiled and put the sword back in its sheath saying, “I also know that God loves me and this storm is in His hands. So whatever happens is going to be good. If we perish we will be with Him and if we survive it will be for His glory. Either way I will trust Him.”
Many of us here today have that kind of hope in Christ, but not all of us. Some of you have heard the word of Jesus, you have heard about the work of Jesus, but you haven’t put your hope in Him. Your life is resting on faith commitments that are doomed to fail and Jesus is calling you to come and follow Him.
In fact, in Matthew 11Jesus says,
Matt 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Don’t you see that Jesus came to save sinners and give them the kind of life that God intended. He came to rescue us and give us rest, not just physically, but deep down in our soul. When we come to Him and hear His Words and Do what He tells us we will be setting our life upon Him, the foundation that cannot fail.