Big Idea: Jesus is teaching that the one who obeys his authority is the one who has salvation.
We had been married for about ten years when Jo first suggested that I should go for a hearing test. I said, “What?” and promptly didn’t do anything about it. A little while later Jo insisted that I go to the doctor and get a referral for a hearing test. I responded that I really didn’t need a hearing test, but it was soon clear that I should just get one. So, I went down to the doctor and asked for a referral for a hearing test. The doctor looked at me and asked how long I had been married. Ten years. The doctor diagnosed the problem on the spot, you don’t need a hearing test. It is a well-known medical condition that after ten years of marriage, husbands grow deaf to the voice of their wives. When I got home and triumphantly announced that I did not need a hearing test and explained what the doctor had said, … well I certainly did not need any hearing aid to understand what Jo had to say.
How can it be that after only ten short years of wedded bliss … I had grown deaf to the love of my life. I had TUNED out to the frequency of Jo’s voice. Not a great way to navigate a marriage, to be tuned out, to persist with a hearing problem. And it is no way to navigate this life, in light of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus finishes this epic sermon with a warning. In the previous verses, Jesus’ warning is about false teachers. Watch out. In our passage today, the closing verses of his sermon, Jesus is warning us against being false hearers. Jesus is calling us to take the hearing test. With the warning: Don’t be a false hearer. So today I want to ask you …
Even though Jo insisted that I needed a hearing test I didn’t think I needed one. I was resistant. Not sure why, it doesn’t hurt. It might be that up until now you haven’t seen the danger of being a false hearer. But the hearing test in our passage today is a matter of life and death. “There is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be avoided.”
Hear Jesus’ warning. Take the hearing test. In this well-known account of the wise and foolish builder hear Jesus when he says …
There is a way that leads to flourishing, life and there is a way that leads to destruction. Read v24-27.
24 “Therefore 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.”
There are two builders. And to the watching world, everything about these two builders and their buildings seems to be the same. You’ll see them both at Doyle’s Timber and Hardware buying their building supplies. You’ll see both their houses going through the various stages of construction. You’ll see both families moving in with the removalist trucks blocking half the street. You’ll see the gardens taking shape, trees being planted, lawns being mowed, basketball hoops on the driveway, solar panels on the roof, and garbage bins on the street each Sunday night.
Here are two blokes and they are both building a life within earshot of Jesus. Both of them hear. They’re at church every Sunday. They attend the same conferences and camps. Read the same books from Reformers. Turn up for Growth Group, and may even discuss theories and theology with great vigour.
They probably both listen to the same Christian podcasts and online sermons while they are building their houses. What you need to understand is that if you are sitting here hearing these words Jesus is talking to you, the hearer. It’s true that Jesus refers to one as wise (v24) and the other foolish (v26). But the point is you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart on a Sunday morning/evening.
But in the aftermath of the inevitable storm (v25, 27) notice how it is exactly the same for both: when the rains pour and the waters rise and the winds blow; which is ultimately the day of judgment; on that day there is an eternal difference… And the desirable option is very clear. One life stands (v25 yet it did not fall) but the Other is destroyed (v27 it fell with a great crash), it is a catastrophic failure from which there will be no recovery.
Hear the gracious warning in this story about two builders sitting in church. The storm is coming. The day of judgment is coming. There are only two options. You will either stand or you will fall. Are you ready? The other night I woke up with a terrible realisation that I had forgotten to pay my car insurance. It was now two days overdue! So, I got up, it was after midnight, logged onto the website and paid the bill. It’s too late to find insurance after the disaster.
Hear what Jesus says: The day of judgment is coming. There is a way to be prepared. There is a way to listen well. Amid all their similarities and there are many the one difference is how they hear. There is a true hearer. Read v24
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
And a false hearer. Read v26 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. The difference is not whether or not you are sitting in church, reading the Bible or going to Growth Group. Both builders hear. The difference is discipleship. Actually building your life on the teaching of Jesus. The difference is obeying; submitting to him. Jesus is asking have you heard? So…
In the process of buying our house, we got a building and pest report. The guys didn’t come in and look at the colour scheme, they didn’t look at the use of natural light or the layout of the living area, they didn’t look at the plants in the garden. They climbed under the house and in the roof. They looked in all the places where no one else really sees. They checked the foundations and the frame. And on the basis of what they saw there, they delivered the report.
Is your foundation storm-rated? Or are you being a false hearer? When Jesus finished preaching the Sermon the crowds knew that they had heard something significant. Read v28-29
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.
Throughout the gospels, the crowds are witness to Jesus’ mighty works and authoritative teaching. Often they are amazed. But in the end, they are fickle. Later in Matthew, they will welcome Jesus into Jerusalem with palms fronds and praises. But within a week they will be calling for his crucifixion. This could be another warning. There needs to be more than acknowledging that there is something special about Jesus’ teaching. Carson: It is true that no person enters the kingdom of heaven due to their obedience; but it is also true that no person who is not obedient enters the kingdom of heaven. Obedience is the fruit of true, saving faith in Jesus; Lord and Saviour. I’m following the King, living life for him!
Please don’t hear me saying or Jesus saying for that matter, that salvation comes through what you can achieve. If you could earn your own salvation by what you do, then Jesus would not have needed to die on the cross. In fact, if there was any other way to be saved then God committed the greatest act of cruelty ever by sending Jesus to die. But there is no other way. Jesus’ death on the cross achieved what nothing else could achieve. It was the greatest act of grace and mercy and love that God sent his Son to die for us. Salvation, right standing with God comes only through faith in Jesus. And that saving faith in Jesus, that enduring foundation for life is displayed and confirmed in the good fruit of obedience.
Obedience is trusting that Jesus way is the only way to life. The blessed life. Not the outward actions to gain the praise of others. But a heart mourning our own spiritual poverty before God, hungering and thirsting his righteousness, and seeking to love and serve him with our whole heart. Jesus is the narrow way to life. Four significant moments in the Sermon. 5:19 do what I say. 6:1 loving God wholeheartedly (do acts of righteousness). 7:12 loving others (do unto others) 7:24 doing what I say.
The fruit of obedience shows the evidence of a life built on the rock. When we lived in Cronulla I had two citrus trees, a lemon and a lime. I could never tell which was which until the fruit was ripe. I could tell them apart by their fruit. That’s the point of Jesus story of the two builders. Obedience to Jesus was evidence of a life built on the storm-proof foundation. Doing doesn’t save us, but it reveals our foundations.
A good friend of mine tells me that our prayers are our creeds. How we pray and what we pray says a lot about what we believe. Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843), a Scottish minister who developed the Bible reading plan we are following this year said,
“A man is what he is on his knees, and no more.”
At the centre point of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says this then is how disciples pray … This is our creed; this is who we are on our knees. When we reflect on each part and make it our plea before God. The Lord’s Prayer is a wise response to the truth of Jesus a safeguard against being a false hearer. It is a daily inspection of our foundations.
Delight in that truth, dwell/meditate in that truth. That we know him as Father. We don’t need to make an appointment to see him, we don’t need to grovel for his attention or favour. Just talk to him. Call out, cry out! And what I want to say is Lord thank you. Despite my rebellion and sin, according to your grace, you have declared me right with you on the basis of Jesus’ work. I deserve destruction and yet in Christ, you have made me your child.
Because I have come to know the graciousness and majesty of God through Jesus my desire is that his name would be honoured in all the world. And even if all the world refuses to honour him I pray that my life would honour him. That is my prayer my heart’s desire. Lord by your Holy Spirit at work in me, make that a reality in my life.
Lord, I am in total agreement with your plans for this world. To one day reveal to all creation the glory of Christ and to end all rebellion and opposition to his eternal rule. Lord use me in the extension of your kingdom as you see fit. Lord bring that day and may it find me faithful.
Daily dependance on God. Each day I trust God and ask him for all I need to live for him that day. Each day I pray that I may in some way be an answer to someone else’s prayer for provision – time, resources, encouragement, understanding. Daily I practice my reliance on Him. I thank him for all he gives me.
I recognise my sin. I agree with God that I am indeed a sinner in need of forgiveness and that forgiveness comes through repentance. A wholehearted desire that God set the agenda in our lives especially as we respond to others with grace and forgiveness.
Rightly understanding the nature of the world we live in and seeking God’s safekeeping. Trust that he will indeed bring to completion what he has started. The Lord’s Prayer is our daily hearing test. When you go to a hearing test they put you in a soundproof booth and tell you to respond when you hear the beep. Hear the beep. Hear Jesus’ gracious reminder and his loving warning that the fruit of true, life-saving discipleship is obedience to his word.