God the Rock – The Parable of the Two Builders

God the Rock – The Parable of the Two Builders

God the Rock – The Parable of the Two Builders.

Please read Matthew 7: 21-29 and/or Luke 6:46-49.

PRELUDE. The opening words of the section in Matthew are actually scary good, and I do mean scary. Evidently one can have a powerful ministry, even prophecy and exorcism, and still not be known by God. Apparently, one can do great things for God but still not truly know God. One’s whole identity could be wrapped up in doing things for the Lord, but not with the Lord. It comes down to working God’s words into your personal life, as Eugene Peterson once said. The bottom line is developing a friendship with the Lord, a relationship in which you really do know each other. External religion is inadequate. Demonstrating piety misses the point. Religious showboating leads nowhere. Mere God-talk is vanity of vanities. The holy-rollers sadly end up being the Great Pretenders, going down the drain.

THE BUILDERS. a. The prudent, sensible, practical, wise builder had the good sense to dig below the surface of the ground until he found the rock. He then built his house on the rock foundation. The Holy Land has rock everywhere. Some rock is just below the surface, and other rock may be ten feet down. Everybody knows that the builder doesn’t stop digging until you hit the rock.

b. The stupid, lazy, foolish, impractical builder didn’t bother digging at all. He just built his house on the sand or clay at the surface of the ground. What an idiot.

BUILDING THE HOUSE. Since everything was built by hand, including the digging and the construction, house-building was only accomplished by rigorous work, strenuous effort. Building a home was very difficult, and even dangerous. Much building was done in the summer, although the hardened ground was like iron to dig. Home builders wanted to get the job done before the winter rains. If the foundation was not on a rock foundation, then the rain would soften the ground, the walls would weaken, and the house would collapse. Only an extremely foolish person would build right on the ground with no rock foundation.

JESUS. According to Kenneth Bailey, Jesus, the master teacher and Old Testament scholar, combined two prophetic references when designing this story. On the recommendation of another Bible scholar, Sheridan Larson, I am adding a third prophetic stream. The third is a remarkable piece of scripture, and obviously all three portions are major aspects of Jesus’ references in the parable. All the Jewish listeners would immediately be aware of all this.

a. Isaiah 28:14-18 refers to a time when God would build in Zion on a “tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation. He who believes in it will not be shaken.” Every Jew knew that at this time there was a sacred rock, called “the Foundation,” slightly elevated off the ground, sitting in the center of the Holy of Holies, which is in the center of the Temple, which is in the center of the world. With this parable, Jesus is boldly claiming to in fact be the Holy Rock, the Foundation, the fulfillment of Isaiah’s precious cornerstone. He is saying that if you build on Him as the true foundation, by both listening to and acting upon His words, nothing will shake you. You will be unshakeable through life’s storms. Jesus is asserting that the Foundation Rock, built by God, is Himself. His body is the new Temple, the Third Temple, so don’t forget to build your life on Him, through hearing, believing, obeying His word.

b. Ezekiel 33:29-33 is another prophetic stream Jesus refers to in this parable. Ezekiel talks directly to his Jewish hearers, warning them that they won’t hear God’s love song, since they are those who hear God’s words, but do not put them into practice. They are listening, but they don’t act on God’s words. This is the context of the parable, and every Jew in the audience would immediately remember Ezekiel’s words of warning.

c. Zechariah 4:6-10 is the third prophetic word that Jesus references in this story. Again, every Jew would immediately think of this reference when hearing Jesus speak the parable. Let these amazing words of scripture speak for themselves: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit – said the Lord of Hosts. Whoever you are, O great mountain in the path of Zerubbabel, turn into level ground! For he shall produce that excellent stone; it shall be greeted with shouts of ‘Beautiful! Beautiful!’” And the word of the Lord came to me: “Zerubbabel’s hands have founded this House and Zerubbabel’s hands shall complete it. Then you shall know that it was the Lord of Hosts who sent me to you. Does anyone scorn a day of small beginnings? When they see the stone of distinction in the hand of Zerubbabel, they shall rejoice.” What a stunning description of Jesus!

I AM THEY – My Feet Are on the Rock (Official Music Video) – YouTube

FINAL THOUGHTS. a. Jesus says some scary words to start the parable. Some will be lost, even though they say all the right words. Even if they address God, even if they say, “Lord, Lord.” This parable is fair warning to all of us, that religious God-talk isn’t evidence of salvation. We need to hear the truth at the heart level, but we also need to practice the truth in our daily lives, with God’s strength and enablement. If we only pay lip service to God, then we aren’t truly building our lives on the Precious Cornerstone, and we’re only kidding ourselves. We don’t know Him, and He doesn’t know us.

b. Both houses were hit by storms. Both experienced challenges and difficulties. Following Jesus doesn’t mean we are magically protected from life’s storms. One home was unshakeable, the other wasn’t. Build your life on the true Rock, the spiritual Foundation, and you will be left standing strong.

c. There’s a reason this parable was spoken by Jesus at a crucial time in his teaching, after His big sermons in Matthew (on the Mount) and in Luke (on the Plain). It’s a summing up of what He wants the audience to take away after all those words in those sermons. Hear and do. Listen and practice. Believe and obey. Build on the Living Stone.

d. There was no doubt in the Early Church’s mind that Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies of Isaiah 28:16Psalm 118:22, and Zechariah 10:4, that Christ came out of Zion to be the Foundation Rock upon which to build one’s life and salvation. Jesus Himself claimed to be the Living Stone, the Cornerstone that the builders rejected in Matthew 21:42. Paul says so in Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Corinthians 3:11. Peter says so too, in 1 Peter 2:4,6. And Luke repeats all that in Acts 4:11. Many who were in Jesus’ audience in this parable of the two builders, believed the story to be messianic, fulfilled in Jesus, that He is the Foundation Stone upon which the wise builder built his house. And true to His Word, when we build on Him, we are unshakeable. Let us dig deep till we find this Foundation. Then let us build our house, through God’s strength, through thought, word and deed.

e. Jesus spoke “with authority.” The Scribes did not. They based everything on what they only repeated from their tired tradition, nothing new, no fresh bread. They were experts in repetition, like religious robots. They didn’t speak from the heart, from life experience. They talked a good show, but their personal lives were inconsistent with their teaching. They didn’t “own” their fancy religious words. Jesus, though, spoke with authority. He spoke from a pure heart that was consistent with His authentically holy life. He “owned” His profound teaching. He spoke fresh words from God, new yet in the spirit of Hebrew scriptures. Jesus was the genuine article, the wise author of His own words, which was the source of His life-giving power and authority, astounding the crowd.

f. Regarding Matthew 7:28“The Greek word used here, ekplesso, is a strong verb that means ‘awestruck, filled with amazement, astonished, panic stricken, something that takes your breath away, to be shocked.’ Clearly Jesus spoke with such glory and power emanating from him that his words were like thunderbolts in their hearts. May we hear his words in the same way today.” (Dr. Brian Simmons).