This week I attended my first Rodeo.
One thing I had noticed from watching on TV in the past is how much focus is given to the chute before an 8 second ride.
A similar concept is the parachute packed for a paratrooper.
A skilled chute packer knows just how to fold the canvas and position the cords so that should it be needed, the chute will open properly so that the soldier is able to glide smoothly to the ground.
So, what is similar between a rodeo chute and a parachute?
They both involve meticulous preparation for anticipated trials.
While the bull rider is in the chute the activities seem like overkill.
While the soldier is in the plane, the parachute may seem like bulky, unnecessary weight.
But when trials come (and they will come), you will be glad for the preparation.
Earlier this week I heard a story from Pastor Greg Laurie that I believe is relevant to today’s text.
In his story he boarded an airplane and the staff went through the normal safety precautions as people flipped through magazines, put their headphones on or otherwise settled in for the flight.
About 20 minutes into the flight the pilot came on the intercom and explained “We’re having some indications of engine trouble and would like to review the emergency procedures.”
This time people listened as if their lives depended upon the information.
In today’s text Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount by calling listeners to prepare now for the troubles that will arise.
For many of us, it is impossible to read these words without mentally recalling the children’s song.
But I want us this morning to not just fondly recall a fun song.
I ask you to consider the foundation of your life.
Effective Faith will be tested (vv.24-25)
This teaching uses building ON, but follows the tree illustration where roots, growth and fruit are more connected.
If the danger in vv.21-23 was mere confession, the danger in 24-27 is mere knowledge.
2. Testing gives confidence.
Both of our vehicles are supposedly equipped with airbags.
There are imprints on the steering wheel and dashboard and a light comes on to tell me the passenger airbag is disabled if I put my briefcase on the seat.
But I’ve never seen the airbags and I’ve read a lot about airbag recalls.
On the other hand, I’ve seen and felt the seatbelts.
There have been times when they’ve cinched a little snugly and I’ve had to tug and release them.
I have more confidence in my seatbelts because I’ve experienced their strength.
While faith must be personally embraced, it must have public impact.
· “The world is like rotting food, full of the bacteria which cause its disintegration; Jesus’ followers are to be its salt, arresting its decay.
The world is a dark and dismal place, lacking sunshine, living in shadow; Jesus’ followers are to be its light, dispelling its darkness and its gloom.”[i]
1. V.25 likely reads in your Bible that the rain fell, came down, or descended.
One translation renders it…
With the wet spring we have had many of us can easily imagine a road washing out like this picture from my friend Kurt who is a county commissioner in Oklahoma.
But Jesus’ illustration doesn’t talk about roads, it describes a house.
Can you imagine being these homeowners watching this happen?
I like the word choice in the New Living Translation because it uses different words in v.24 and v.26.
In v.24 we read about those who listen, but v.26 refers to those who merely hear the words of Jesus.
2. Why is it that some people have the resilience to stand up under pressure and others collapse like a house of cards?
What started as a noble attempt to provide refuge for neglected and abused individuals indicated by these signs has now evolved into “safe spaces” where individuals can expect to be free from triggering words and ideas.
3. The childhood rhyme, sticks and stones, may miscalculate the impact of hurtful words.
But experience bears out that concepts and beliefs will be challenged and you need a belief that can withstand the onslaught.
Last week we looked at Jesus’ words about 2 paths and 2 destinations.
Today we focus on 2 foundations and 2 outcomes.
a. Jesus unapologetically claims that He and his words are the foundation upon which you must build.
Some people choose to add or integrate religion into their list of values.
But Jesus is calling listeners both in the first century and in this room to make a choice.
Jesus’ Jewish audience would be intimately familiar with Jeremiah 31:22 where the prophet asks “How long will you waver?”
They could quote Deuteronomy 30 where Moses sets before the people life and death, blessing and curse and implores them to choose life.
Religion may be something that you do, but Jesus demands a relationship that defines.
In today’s identity politics, people define themselves by gender, affections, occupation, or politics.
More than my race, gender or marital status, at the core of my being I am foremost a child of God who yields to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
e. John the Baptist called out, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”
Peter preached, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.”
James implores the double-minded man to make a choice to “draw near to God.”
Religion may be something that you do, but Jesus demands a relationship and an allegiance that defines.
Transition: Religion may be something that you do, but Jesus demands a relationship and an allegiance that defines.
This allegiance is spelled out in the next verses…
Effective Faith requires Obedience (vv.26-27)
1. Obedience is not the way to faith, it is demonstration of faith.
When the bronc or the bull rider nods his head and the chute opens, all that was done in preparation will be tested.
But what he does in the arena determines his score.
I’m no judge, but I’ve been led to understand that the point of the toes, the arch of the back and the wave of the free hand are all instrumental in a high score.
It is not enough just to hang on.
2. Wrong decisions in the chute will doom a rider to fall off before the 8 seconds and be declared a no-ride.
Improper actions after the gate opens will render a ride unfruitful with a low score.
I wear a ring on the 3rd finger of my left hand.
This ring does not make me married, it is a reminder and testimony of that decision.
1. Living out the instructions of the Sermon on the Mount will not make you a Christian.
Obedience to these commands are indications that you are truly a follower of Christ.
2. There are many behaviors throughout the New Testament that don’t earn salvation, they are evidence that we have been saved through genuine faith.
One obvious act of obedience is the profession of our faith.
We can confess our faith in many ways by word or deed, and we will be meeting in the Fellowship Hall after this service to train those who want to do this better.
Another means of making our faith public is mentioned 60 times in the New Testament.
Water baptism doesn’t save, just as a ring doesn’t marry, but baptism is the normative way that Scripture describes for informing the community that a person has chosen Christ.
By going under the water we indicate that we have died to our selfish desires and by coming up we testify that Jesus’ resurrection promises us a new future.
· Without the obedience of 7:24, 7:27 tells us what we can exect--our lives will fall and that fall will be great.
Transition: How can Jesus claim that a secure life is only built on Him and obedience to His words?
Effective Faith rests in Jesus’ authority (vv.28-29)
When the Scribes’ taught, their claims read like the small print on a medicine insert.
2. Jesus’ authority will be demonstrated in the next 2 chapters by many miracles.
3. A. B. Bruce summed up the difference by saying that “the scribes spoke ‘by authority’, while Jesus spoke ‘with authority’”.2[ii]
4. Jesus’ Authority in several roles
a. Teacher - “The commonest formula with which the prophets introduced their oracles, namely ‘Thus says the Lord’, is one Jesus never used.
Instead, he would begin ‘Truly, I say to you’ or ‘I tell you’ occurs six times in the Sermon on the Mount (5:18; 6:2, 5, 16, 25, 29).