“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”Matthew 7:24-27
Jarrett Banks writes that “….to avoid offending too many people, we preachers use a little trickery, a little flimflam, a little smoke and mirrors. We pull this off by talking less about what the passages are saying, and more about what they are not saying.” For example, instead of saying that Jesus told us to love our enemies, we say, “Now this is not saying we have to like them.” Following the Call, pages 321-322.
Whew! No one is offended by that kind of pap. Let everyone off the hook. Let’s preach what we wished the Sermon on the Mount said.
But Jesus doesn’t let us off the hook. The ones who do the will of the Father are the ones who make up the population of heaven. And if that is not enough, Jesus finishes the sermon with this image of building a house. It’s an appropriate metaphor because all of us are building something: careers, education, social standing, etc. Or, we’re helping to build the kingdom of God.
Jesus is unequivocal. The person who ignores Jesus’ teaching is like someone who builds an expensive, beautiful house right on the sand. No foundations. No bedrock base. Just sand. Nothing stable and protective to keep the house safe.
The person who takes Jesus seriously is like someone who builds his/her house on bedrock. Not subject to the threats of rain, wind, and even earth movement. Though not the same metaphor, I heard a story once about a rancher who hired a new ranchhand. When asked what his qualifications were, the ranchhand said, “I can sleep through a storm.” A little puzzled by the response, the rancher hired him anyway.
On the occasion of a howling storm, the rancher jumped out of bed and tried to call the new hire, but couldn’t rouse him because he was soundly asleep. Angered, the rancher went about the ranch to see what damage the storm was doing. But he found the shutters securely fastened, the hay covered with tarps, the tools all put away, and the livestock all sheltered in the barn. Then the rancher understood what “I can sleep through a storm” meant.
Building on a rock is a “sleep through a storm” kind of action. Jesus gives us a sort of guarantee about the quality and durability of our lives when they are founded on him. Not weakened by our own adaptations but reinforced by Jesus’ truth and wisdom.
What a way to end this sermon! Jesus challenged his audience. and us, to take him up on this eternal wisdom. “Build your life on my rock,” he told them.
Prayer: Christ, our rock. We, at times, are tempted to go our own way when it comes to living our own lives. We are inclined to believe that we are wise when we are not. We pray, therefore, for the safety and stability of building our lives in your wisdom. Only then can we live with any confidence. In Jesus’ name. Amen.