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Matthew 7:24–27 (ESV)
Build Your House on the Rock
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 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.
26 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.
27 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.”
Jesus’ Rosetta Stone
Build your house on the rock!
Believe in Jesus and you will be able to withstand the onslaught of this world!
Claim Him as your Lord and He will protect you and save you from sin!
We have heard this exhilarating speech about Matthew 7:24-27 before.
It is used often as a call to Jesus; unbelievers, don’t stand on sand, instead just believe and stand on the rock and He will make everything better!
This message is such an empowering and uplifting one, who would not be excited for Jesus after hearing it?
We leave the sermon feeling protected and loved, Jesus is my Lord and He makes everything better.
Unfortunately, in my best understanding, this is not the message Jesus is teaching at the end of His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:24-27.
Jesus is speaking in a parable here and an understanding of parables is essential to the the Christian if we wish to understand the teaching of Jesus,
since the parables make up approximately 35 of His recorded sayings.
Jesus didn’t use parables as mere illustrations of His preaching, often they are His preaching.
Therefore, properly understanding His parables is to properly understand the teaching of the Lord.
There is a challenge presented in parables that is unique though, they are often difficult to decipher, since they are filled with allegories (symbols to be interpreted in order to reveal a hidden meaning).
Thankfully, Jesus Himself has given us the Rosetta Stone to unlock His parables in Matthew 13’s Parable of the Sower; this is the only parable which Jesus explains to us, and so logic follows we should use His methods of interpretation for the rest of His parables.
In His explanation of the Parable of the Sower, Jesus first identifies what each of His allegories symbolize,
then He draws out His message of the story,
and finally presents us with the application of His message.
Today, I would like to exercise Jesus’ method, and find out what Jesus truly wants us to learn from the Parable of Two Builders.
What is the Coming Storm?
In following Jesus’ form, our first step to understanding is to decode the symbolism in His parable.
We could do this in several different orders, but I would like to start with identifying the things they share in common.
Symbolism of Similarity
Everyone who “hears” (vv.
24, 26) professes Jesus Christ as Lord; both wise and foolish.
Isaiah 6:9-10
Mark 4:23
The first thing we come across is that both these men “hear these words of mine”.
Many pass over this allusion as just simply Jesus saying anyone who can audibly hear His words.
However, we have scripture to clarify what Jesus is alluding to: Isaiah 6:9-10 says:
God is specifying that those who “hear with their ears” also “understand with their hearts”.
These are the qualities of believers.
Jesus also refers to this concept in the New Testament in Mark 4:23:
Therefore, both the wise man and the foolish man are professing believers in Jesus Christ as Lord.
The next thing they both have in common is the building of a house.
Our soul is the “house” (vv.
24, 26) in which we dwell spiritually.
Luke 11:24-26
But this house is not symbolizing Jesus, because then Jesus would be saying that he can somehow fail when, in verse 27, the house falls;
which would directly contradict scripture which states the Lord “will not fail to achieve His purposes” (paraphrase: Isaiah 46:10).
To understand Jesus we should look to another time Jesus uses the symbol of a house in a more clear way, specifically Luke 11:24-26:
Our spiritual “house” is our soul.
Because of this, it is where either sinfulness or holiness abides in us.
The last thing our two builders have in common is that their houses both experience rain, floods, winds, and a beating.
God’s wrath against our sin is a storm of epic proportions (vv.
25, 27) “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house”
Genesis 6:9-7:24
Isaiah 28:17
Ezekiel 13:13
Many contemporaries come to the conclusion that Jesus is speaking about the onslaught of sin from the world.
However, we must ignore God’s own revelation of Himself in Scripture in order to make this work.
Specifically, we must ignore the picture of Noah and the Ark (Genesis 6:9-7:24) where the flood is God’s method of judgement against sin.
In addition, Jesus is connecting the Flood’s judgement with Old Testament prophesy of our future Judgement Day in Isaiah 28:17
Likewise, we get an even clearer depiction of God’s wrath in Ezekiel 13:13 :
With this in mind, the storm that will break out against the builders house is God’s wrath against our sin.
Before we start to draw out Jesus’ message from the parable though, it is important that we first identify the differences in the two builders.
Interestingly, just as there are three similarities between the builders, there are also three differences.
Symbolism of Differences
A wise man “does” (v.
24) the commands he hears [obeys Scripture].
A foolish man “does not do” (v.
26) the commands he hears [disobeys Scripture].
John 14:15
Mark 14:62
“I am” - Exodus 3:14
“Son of man”, “coming on the clouds of heaven” - Daniel 7:13-14
“right hand of power” - Psalms 110:1
2 Timothy 3:16
First, we are told that one builder “does” and the other “does not”.
This implies that there is action to be taken.
So how do we determine what action Jesus is speaking of?
Jesus qualifies this for us at the start of each storyline by saying “Everyone who hears these words of mine”.
Jesus wants us to not only hear His words, but to do them.
The symbolism is very logical here, when we are told to do something, our actions, whether we do what we are told or not, is defined as obedience or disobedience.
In fact, Jesus tells us elsewhere, in John 14:15, that the truth of our love for Him will be realized by our obedience:
Something we need to tackle along side this point is that Jesus is not just talking about the red letters in the Bible.
He is talking about all of Scripture.
To suggest that only the red letters are Jesus’ commands is to imply that Jesus is not God, and in that thinking we have fundamental conflict with even the red letters themselves.
Everything Jesus just said are terms and titles reserved in the Old Testament for God and the Messiah.
“I am” - Exodus 3:14
“Son of man”, “coming on the clouds of heaven” - Daniel 7:13-14
“right hand of power” - Psalms 110:1
So the Biblical response to the red letters objection is that the red letters tell us that Jesus is God and, since all of scripture is God’s word:
Therefore, the wise builder is obedient to all Scripture, the foolish is disobedient to any of the Scripture.
The wise man’s house does “not fall” (v.
25) [is forgiven]
The foolish man’s house does “fall” (v.
27) [is condemned]
Genesis 3:1-24
1 Corinthians 15:22
The second difference we should notice is that the wise-man's house does not fall, while the foolish man’s house falls.
To garner the symbolism of this fall, we must go all the way back to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:1-24 and understand that man’s original sin was an act of disobedience which caused our fall from grace.
Since then Scripture has consistently used the term “fall” to mean our condemnation.
The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible defines the Fall of Man as a
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