The last of Jesus’ illustrations in His Sermon on the Mount contrasts two builders, a wise builder and one who is foolish.
“Everyone 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 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.” (Matthew 7.24-27)
The important thing to notice about this illustration is that the foundation Jesus is talking about is not Jesus Himself but His teaching. We teach children to sing, “So build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ.” But this is not a matter of merely giving our hearts to Jesus; it is a matter of building on what Jesus says. Rippon’s hymn states it correctly: “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.”
This is the point we have been dealing with in one way or another from the very first words of the sermon. When we studied the beatitudes, we saw how they were built on Scripture, the first two coming from Isaiah 61.1-2, the third from Psalm 37.11, the sixth from Psalm 24.3-4, and so on. The next section of the sermon dealt with the Bible directly, teaching that Jesus did not come to abolish the Bible’s teachings but to fulfill them. The next three sections explained the meaning of several Old Testament commands and practices and taught how Christians are to relate to the world and its concerns. The Golden Rule summed up “the Law and the Prophets.” Now, at the very end, Jesus teaches that the one who would be His disciple must build his or her entire life on the Bible. Building on Jesus’ words will save you both in life and in death.
Dr. Joseph Parker was a popular English preacher. When his wife of many years became sick and died within a few hours. Parker was unable to share his grief with anyone else, and walking through the empty rooms of his house, he felt for some footing in the theories of his day and found none. “But then,” he said, addressing a company of his fellow pastors, “in those dark hours of my soul’s anguish, when filled with doubt and trembling in fear, I [recalled] the old Gospel of redemption alone through the blood of Christ, the Gospel I had preached in those earlier days, and I put my foot down on that, and … I found firm standing. I stand there today, and I shall die resting upon that blessed glorious truth of salvation alone through the precious blood of Christ.”
Building on Christ’s words will also save you in death, for that is what escaping the storm’s destruction actually refers to. This is not merely a matter of finding something that will get you through life, fit to stand against “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” as it were. It is a matter of standing upright at the final judgment and not being carried off to hell by God’s verdict and command.
People were amazed at Jesus’ teaching. He had presented Himself as “the Lord,” the unique Son of God (calling God “my Father”), and the judge at the final day. He had spoken with absolute authority, and what He was requiring was radical submission to His rule as Lord of God’s kingdom.
What does this mean to you personally? The people who heard the Lord Jesus Christ that day in Galilee, when He preached the Sermon on the Mount, were “amazed at his teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law [scribes].”
Yet the text does not say that any who heard Him then believed in His doctrine or committed themselves to Him. I am sure some did. Some do today. But sadly, in our hectic, more sophisticated century, it is even more possible to do what the majority must have done in that day: let the hour of salvation pass by.
What is the most important message of this sermon? It is the person of Jesus of Nazareth Himself. He is the Son of God. He spoke as no man has ever spoken. He lived as He preached, and then He died and rose again that those who believe Him and trust Him might pass from death to life and enter heaven to be with Him forever. Do you believe that? Have you committed your life here and your future hereafter to Christ’s care?
If you make that commitment, Jesus will do for you what He has promised. He will bless you in the sense given to that word in the beatitudes. He will make you salt to benefit others, and light to this dark world. He will enable you to understand and obey the Bible. He will teach you to pray. Then He will bear you through all the cares, dangers, and frustrations of this life to an eternity of unbroken fellowship with Him in heaven.
Do you believe that? Is He speaking to you now? Be warned! It is easier to prefer what is wide and broad and attractive. It is natural to drift along to perdition with the crowd.