Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Matthew 7:24–27

Matthew 7:24–27 (ESV): Build Your House on the Rock


This is the final passage from the sermon Jesus has been giving, starting in Chapter 5. He says that anyone who hears his words and does them will be like someone who builds his house on a rock. Even though the rain will fall, and floods and winds will come, the house won’t fall because it has a firm foundation.

Contrarily, anyone who hears Jesus’ words and doesn’t do them is like a person who builds his house on sand, which the rain and floods and winds will cause to fall—and “great” is that fall (verse 27 (ESV)).


This is a very short and well known passage. I don’t want to make too much of the metaphor Jesus is using—his main point is just that it’s wise to do what he says, and foolish not to—but I do have some thoughts on his choice of metaphor.

First of all, Jesus doesn’t promise that doing what he says will cause you to live a charmed life, where no ill will befall you; he simply promises that when bad things come your way, you won’t fall. You may not enjoy the “wind” and the “rain” and the “floods,” but they won’t be able to shake your faith, because you have a solid foundation in God.

It’s also interesting that when Jesus talks about foolish people who don’t do what he says, and talks about their metaphorical house falling, he doesn’t just say that it falls, but that “great [is] the fall of it” (verse 27 (ESV)). It’s very common for non-Christians (at least in North America) to think that it doesn’t matter what you believe, and to think that you can pull some philosophies from this religion and some from that religion, and find something that works for you. But that’s not the case at all; it’s all or nothing. Jesus is the only way to God, and if you don’t follow him, eternity hangs in the balance. You don’t have any other alternatives.

Finally, although it’s obvious that one should build build one’s house on rock, rather than on sand, the ESV Study Bible mentions that there is a specific meaning for Jesus’ hearers, because the sand around the Sea of Galilee (which, according to the ESV Study Bible, may or may not be where Jesus delivers this sermon) becomes very hard during the summer months, giving it an appearance of stability, but quite literally, if rain/floods/winds came, anything built on that sand would fall down. The ESV Study Bible writer(s) make this an explicit comparison to “the religious establishment,” which is built on an unstable foundation of religious pretense, instead of being built on Jesus’ teachings. (They seem to be talking about the Jewish religious establishment of Jesus’ day, but the same could be said of some modern religious establishments.)

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