I recently asked a large class of teenagers to share what they recall from the greatest sermon they ever heard. It was encouraging to hear them one by one begin to share where they were, the subject being presented, and how that lesson impacted their lives. I was a bit saddened to learn that not one of them mentioned one of my sermons; but that is okay.
As we find ourselves sitting beside the multitude listening with anticipation to Jesus preach on “The Sermon on the Mount” we hear Jesus say the following, “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.” And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:24-29)
When Jesus finished his sermon the people were amazed! They had never heard anyone preach like that before. Jesus spoke as one with great authority. He called for people to act on what they heard. He called them to make a life commitment. He called them to live differently as a result of hearing His sermon.
As I began to study deeper into this familiar text I began to see some strong similarities as well as differences between these two men.
Similarities between the Builders
- Both Heard the Words of Jesus – Jesus begins His conclusion by saying, “Whoever hears these words of mine…” Jesus is not only talking about the words he is about to say but is referencing his entire sermon and ministry. Notice that both builders were represented in the crowd as Jesus spoke.
- Both Built a House – Building a house take great effort. I recall those times my family aided my dad in building his log home. It is hard work. Try as I may, the house did not build itself. It took personal effort and responsibility. The same is true with our spiritual house. No one can build it FOR us, we must build it OURSELVES.
- Both Experienced a Crisis - Notice the words from verses 25 and 27, “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house…” Regardless of who we are, we have all gone through our own times of crises haven’t we?
Differences in the Two Builders
- One is wise; the other foolish – Upon deeper study, we find out the wise man is one who is thoughtful or discreet. The Greek word to describe this man is φρόνιμος (phronimos). On the other hand I found it interesting that Jesus describes the foolish man as μωρός (mōros) which literally means stupid or a moron. Note that neither of these words had to do with a person’s I.Q. but everything to do with his or her willingness to hear the words of Jesus and apply them.
- The preparation for the crises is different – In both situations the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew. The word for “flood” is used to describe a great river. To fully comprehend this we need to have some understanding of the terrain in Palestine. Palestine is comprised of hills and valleys. In the late winter and early spring the mountain rains come. The rains channel down between these mountains causing a might river to form, destroying any and everything in their path. The wise man built his house up on the rock ledge or rock outcropping. This builder chose the higher ground, the more difficult location. He built his house on THE rock, which is Jesus Christ. However; the foolish man built his house in the dry riverbed. He built it in the direct path of trouble. Trouble came for both men. However; only one was able to withstand the storm.
- The final outcome – The wise man’s house did not fall. Why? Because it was founded upon THE rock (2 Timothy 2:19; 1 Timothy 6:19). The foolish man didn’t fare as well. In fact, the text says “and great was the fall of it”. We each must choose where we will build our house. Prayerfully we will take the time to build a proper house of faith on Jesus and His Word.
I share these points with you today to ask a few simple questions. How is the construction going? Are you taking the personal time to build a faith that will withstand any storm you may face? Are you building your home on a foundation which will fail you or are you putting forth the additional and needed effort to build it on THE rock? May we each do the things necessary to develop a strong and satisfying faith with our Father, His Son, His Word, and His bride! May God bless each of you richly!