Building on the Firm Foundation
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. Matthew 7:26-27
The Sermon on the Mount ends with a parable about building houses (Matthew 7:24-27). It doesn’t take a construction worker to know that a house built on rock will do better than one built on sand. Jesus’ parables are simple stories with deeper meanings, so what did each of the houses in the parable represent?
When Jesus began His ministry, He came up against the religious leaders, the scribes and Pharisees. Many of these men were false prophets leading the people away from God rather than toward Him. Over the years hundreds of laws and interpretations had been added to the laws given by God to Moses. The scribes and Pharisees used these laws and interpretations to stress outward behavior and observable piety. But Jesus saw that their hearts were greedy, proud, and judgmental.
In the parable of the two houses, Jesus offered two different foundations for faith: the rock, “these words of mine,” (Matthew, chapters 4-7) or the sand, the words of the false prophets. The people seemed to recognize the difference because Matthew says “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” ( Matthew 7:28-29).
The word Jesus used for build means “to erect a building, to build (up from the foundation), to rebuild, or repair, Metaphorically it means to found, establish, to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness.”*
Are you building your faith on the foundation of Jesus the Rock or on the sandy foundation of human wisdom? Are you concerned with outward behavior and observable piety or the condition of your heart? We can’t change our hearts, but God can if we yield them to Him.
Just before the parable of the two houses, Jesus spoke of two different kinds of gates and roads in Matthew 7:13-14. What is the small, narrow gate to eternal life? See John 14:16 and Acts 4:12. Do you believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life?
Jesus also spoke of two different kinds of disciples in Matthew 7:21-23. How would you describe each of them and which one do you identify with? What does it mean for Jesus to know us?
Read Matthew 24:3-27. What was Jesus’ warning about false prophets that one would appear? How will we know that it is Jesus who has appeared and not a false prophet?
Other devotions on Jesus the Rock may be found in Dig into Songs: The Solid Rock, A Shelter in the Time of Storm, and Rock of Ages.
Nancy J. Baker
*Greek transliterations and their definitions are taken from the lexicon provided by www.blueletterbible.com.