- Remember that old children’s song – The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock?
- This is the OBVIOUS INTENT of Jesus in Matthew 7 – Listen to Jesus
Russell Moore, editor of Christianity Today, talked about this recently – Christians not wanting to listen to Jesus.
“And what was alarming to me,” Moore went on, “is that in most of these scenarios, when the pastor would say, ‘I’m literally quoting Jesus Christ,’ the response would not be, ‘I apologize.’ The response would be ‘Yes, but that doesn’t work anymore. That’s weak.’
And when we get to the point where the teachings of Jesus himself are seen as subversive to us, then we’re in a crisis.” [from an interview on NPR, quoted in the New York Post, Aug 9, 2023]
WHAT IF Christians don’t listen to Jesus?
Remember that old children’s song – The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock?
The wise man built his house upon the rock (sing 3 times),
And the rains came a-tumbling down.
The rains came down and the floods came up (sing 3 times),
And the house on the rock stood firm!
The 2nd verse repeats the first, substituting “foolish man built … upon the sand” for “wise man …”, and ending with “the house on the sand went splat!!” Pretty dramatic, and it’s moreso with hand motions. Sing it now! (Here it is with the music.)
But it was NOT created for “Children’s Time” at church!
It is Jesus’ chosen conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7). It’s deliberate. And it’s quoted in Luke in a similar setting. I think Jesus said it on purpose. I think Matthew and Luke both included it on purpose. Pretty serious.
It is important!! And you have to admit, it’s pretty clear.
THE WHOLE POINT JESUS IS MAKING HERE IS – IT WOULD BE VERY SENSIBLE TO LISTEN TO JESUS!
It’s not a threat from a bullying god, some giant Trumpist in the sky. It’s a loving description of how the universe really works. Jesus is here to explain that and to make his life an illustration.
For many of today’s American “Christians” this undermines their “Christian” commitments in two major ways:
- INTEGRITY: This is a corruption of integrity, as they pretend to love and worship their historical Lord and Teacher while explicitly ignoring his heart and mind – his teaching.
- INERRANCY: And it’s a dangerous violation of their own beloved principle of the inerrancy of the Bible.
Seriously. Do you want to fuss about the inerrancy of Genesis 2 or Matthew 1 but NOT about what Jesus makes so very explicity clear, a high priority statement?
Here’s the story as recounted in Matthew 7.
everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
26 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. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
The 4 segments of this “Sermon on the Mount” prior to the wise man story strongly emphasize the same thing.
They lead right up to this story of the wise and foolish builders, and make the point unavoidable.
1. Ask, Seek, Knock (Pursue the Best)
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
This is lovely. It’s VERY hopeful about understanding and entering the Kingdom, the Good Life, the Blessed Future being offered. But like they say of a light bulb being changed by counsellors – it has to really want to be changed. Because of the graciousness of god toward this human creation, if we want and seek the truly best we will certainly be brought to it.
2. The Narrow and Wide Gates (Pay the prices.)
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
It’s a serious, and in some ways difficult path. But we’d better find it.
3. True and False Prophets (Don’t Follow False Teachers)
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
This is not to run-of-the-mill followers, but to the teachers, prophets. They look good – “sheep’s clothing.” But their fruit gives them away. Mixed metaphors, but the intent is pretty rough. Without the “good fruit” they will be “cut down and thrown into the fire.” That metaphor does not indicate a pleasant future for such misled misleaders.
4. True and False Disciples (Don’t Be A False Follower)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Pretty clear, eh? False followers and false believers ignore the Father’s will as expressed in the teaching and life of Jesus. Jesus strongly warns about this. Without it, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.”
SO: We have 5 pericopes (short Bible sections) here that all contribute to the lesson. The way Jesus thinks and talks is a BIG DEAL.
This is the OBVIOUS INTENT of Jesus in Matthew 7 – Listen to Jesus
of this sermon wrap-up by Jesus, this deliberate ending, of the Sermon on the Mount.
Build your house upon the rock. It does not mean, of course, that you must conform to how some particular preacher, church, denomination, or other self-established authority talks about (and often ignores) Jesus. We are strenuously, bluntly called to listen to Jesus, and embrace the character of, and the character of the teaching of, the real Jesus.
And you see, Jesus’ teaching has almost no “metaphysical” emphasis (what churches tend to define as their doctrines). But he brings a great deal of justice emphasis – not surprising for a teacher who insisted that after the great commandment, to love God, “the second is like it – love your neighbor as yourself.”
6 Ways to Believe in Jesus Without Taking Him Seriously
The Moral Priorities of Jesus – What Did Jesus Teach?
People Who Take the Bible Seriously are America’s Problem & Blessing (with 2 Rules of Interpretation)