Two Foundations – Matthew 7:24-29
24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!” 28 When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, 29 because He was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes. (HCSB)
First, this lesson will conclude our journey through the Sermon on the Mount. I pray that you have been blessed by it, but more importantly, that you have been challenged to change by it.
24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”
There are several ideas to note in verse 24.
- In verse 24, the word “therefore” points back to the entire Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is concluding His teaching here, and it is meant to be understood in its entirety, not just portions of the message.
- The teachings are the words of Jesus. In verses 24 and 26, Jesus says, “these words of Mine.” Jesus is claiming equal authority with God the Father in authoring what’s contained in Scripture. He also did this by clarifying the original intent of the Law in Matthew 5:17-48.
- Jesus uses the word “everyone.” We know from the context of the Sermon on the Mount that the message was directed at Jesus’ disciples. However, here Jesus is also extending an invitation to those who are not currently His disciples. This includes the members of the religious establishment, who were leading people away from God’s righteousness to their self-righteous hypocrisy.
Let’s now look at verses 24-27 as a coherent whole.
- Jesus is giving a parable about two different builders meant to symbolize the two reactions to Jesus’ teaching.
- One is wise by building on a firm foundation, rock.
- The other is foolish by building on a foundation that is unstable and prone to change.
- There are two separate but equally illustrative understandings to this parable that would’ve been readily understood by those hearing the Sermon on the Mount.
- Those living in the desert areas building on any surface during the dry seasons would have been the easy choice requiring less effort. But those who understood what could happen when heavy rains occurred resulting in flash floods would know that only those dwellings built on rock could withstand the flood. Those built on sand would be swept away.
- The ground, consisting of sandy soil, in the area around the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River where this message took place, would be quite hard on the surface during the hot summer period. When the winter rains occurred, the Jordan River would overflow its banks. Houses built on the previously “hard” soil would be swept away as the ground became saturated and shifted. Those dwellings built on bedrock would withstand these events.
- Those hearing this message would understand the foolishness of building on anything but rock.
- There is a third but less apparent message in these verses directed against the teaching of the Jewish religious leaders.
- The sand was a reference to the leadership and teaching of the scribes and Pharisees.
- They advocated a surface righteousness that masked the unstable foundation of religious hypocrisy.
- The unstable nature of their teaching would be revealed as it wouldn’t be able to provide the answers to the deepest needs of the people.
- The rock was a reference to the teaching of Jesus.
- Obedience to Jesus’ teaching leads to true life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
- It was unpopular, often even leading to trouble as the easy life and comfort were left behind.
- The sand was a reference to the leadership and teaching of the scribes and Pharisees.
- A wise person will build their house, understood as their life, on the rock that is Jesus and His teachings.
- Isaiah 28:16 Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable.
- Acts 4:11 This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone.
- 1 Peter 2:6-8 6 For it is contained in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! 7 So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected— this One has become the cornerstone, 8 and A stone to stumble over, and a rock to trip over.
- Ephesians 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.
- 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 10 According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.
- They understand that shifting sands lead to insecurity and, ultimately, disaster.
There are three points to consider regarding these verses.
- Jesus is the foundation. It is possible to read or hear these words preached and ignore them or try and fulfill them in your own strength. That is a futile course to follow. We can only follow them if we are grounded on Jesus. When we build our character on Jesus, we build an unshakable character.
- A life built on Jesus is a life that will withstand all the storms that the world can throw at us. It will stand against every tribulation that the enemy can bring against us. Ultimately, it will stand when we are before the Throne of Judgment with our eternal destiny being determined.
- For the Christian, the question is, “What are you building?” Are you rooted in God’s will and producing lasting fruit, or are you foolish in your building?
- 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 12 If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.
28 When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, 29 because He was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.
At this point, the Sermon on the Mount is finished. Now, it is time to take stock and evaluate the response of those hearing the message.
- At the beginning of the message, Jesus was addressing His disciples. By the time He had finished, a crowd had gathered.
- Depending on your translation, you might have “astonished” or “amazed” in verse 28. The Greek tense of the verb indicates an ongoing effect on the listeners.
- The astonishment or amazement, unfortunately, had no connection with their response or commitment to the message. The Greek word, ekplesso, is not an indicator of faith but, rather, an emotional response.
- Jesus’ message contained authority as indicated by His continual use of the phrase, “but I tell you.” Jesus’ teaching exhibits the authority of God. This is in contrast to Old Testament prophets who spoke on the authority of Yahweh.
- Moses in Exodus 11:4.
- Elijah in 1 Kings 21:23.
- Isaiah in Isaiah 3:16.
- Zechariah in Zechariah 8:3.
As I close our journey through the Sermon on the Mount, let’s consider this message as a whole.
- This message is intensely life-challenging.
- It is a profoundly disturbing indictment against the religious establishment; those who have hijacked God’s original message with a false message of their own. In Jesus’ day, it was the Pharisees. In our day, there are many suitable candidates who could be indicted with this charge.
- It is an amazing challenge to the crowds, those who are attracted by Jesus’ message but not yet placing faith in Him.
- It is the highest inspiration.
- It is the most realistic guideline of life for those who are Jesus’ disciples as they live the wonderful reality of Kingdom life.
- Jesus challenges His disciples to examine themselves to determine the authenticity of their commitment. They will make an eternal account for their lives.
- Jesus challenges the crowds to take up the invitation to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Their choice will have eternal consequences, either heaven or hell.
- Jesus challenges the religious leaders to examine if they are teaching false doctrine or if they have pious hypocrisy, either which could lead them or their followers to eternal destruction.
- Jesus makes it clear that He will dispense the judgment each of us face.
Our application will look at the Sermon on the Mount in its entirety.
- 7:13–14: Will you enter the gate to life in the Kingdom of Heaven and lead a life of following Jesus? Or will you reject Jesus for the popular road that leads to destruction?
- 7:15–20: Will you find in Jesus the inner source of transformation that will produce the good fruit of life? Or will you follow the prophetic voices of this world that hype a promise of life but will only take you into the fires of hell?
- 7:21–23: Will you obey the Father’s will and come to Jesus as your only Lord? Or will you chase after false manifestations of spirituality that result in eternal banishment?
- 7:24–27: Will you build your life on Jesus as your solid rock? Or will the pleasant ease of your life cause you to be unprepared for the storms that will come in this life and that will ultimately wash you away into the desolation of the afterlife?