“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” Jesus in Matthew 7:24
It’s as though Jesus knows what we are thinking. After hearing his Sermon on the Mount, many of us are not so sure that we are willing to walk down the new path that he is bushwhacking.
Jesus’s teachings are hard. They are impractical. They demand sacrifice and a radical sense of trust. His teachings lay the groundwork for a new ethic; a new way of being in relationship with one another. In direct and prophetic rhetoric, Jesus is telling us that he expects his followers to live in a new kingdom, even while they are immersed in occupied lands. And it all feels near-to-impossible.
Can we still say we like Jesus without doing what he says?
This familiar passage about building a house on a strong foundation signals the end of Jesus’s famous teaching in Matthew’s Gospel. Like the teaching that immediately precedes this one about false prophets, the image serves as a warning to his listeners.
First, Jesus tells his listeners to beware of leaders who will seek to dilute his words and to use faith as a means to advance their own agendas.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Jesus in Matthew 7:15
We are to look at the fruits of their efforts to determine if they are true emissaries of Jesus. And if they are not representatives of the Kingdom that Jesus is inaugurating, never fear. They will be “cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Again, Jesus in Matthew 7:19)
Subtle, Jesus is not.
Next, Jesus implores his listeners to take seriously his teachings and to put them to work in their lives. Those who choose to take Jesus seriously here and follow his commands will build a life for themselves that will weather the storms that this world throws at them.
As if that’s not clear enough, Jesus puts an exclamation point on his statement by reporting that, “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” (You guessed it. Jesus’s words from Matthew 7:26-27)
It’s not enough to simply hear Jesus’s words. It’s not enough to simply call Jesus, ‘Lord, Lord.’ One must act on Jesus’s teachings. In doing so, our lives will bear fruit. But even more than that, in doing what Jesus commands we will wisely position ourselves for life.
Last night, amidst the heavy rain and flooding in our region, I saw this alert from the National Weather Service out of Greenville, SC:
“MCDOWELL COUNTY UPDATE: A landslide has comprised the integrity of Lake Tahoma Dam. MANDATORY EVACUATIONS underway. ACT NOW TO PRESERVE YOUR LIFE.”
Jesus never promises us that the rain won’t fall and that the water won’t rise. He tells us plainly, however, that when the rain does fall, those who have obeyed Jesus’s commandments will be preserved.
Is there a dam in your life that’s about to burst? Are you experiencing a season of terrible wind and rain? It’s not too late to take Jesus’s words and teachings seriously.
Act now to preserve your life.