April 11, 2019·Ben McEntee
I enjoy reading books a lot. I also enjoy reading books to my children, most of the time. But sometimes my kids ask me to read a children’s book that is just so, how can I say it nicely, um, boring, plain, simple and predictable. As I’m reading it, I typically know what’s going to happen, and I know how the story is going to end; this is especially true if I’ve read the book multiple times. I’ve begun to ask myself: “How many times do I have to read Are You My Mother? to my 4-year-old?” Survey says: More times than I can count!
In Matthew 7:24-27, as Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount, He offers a final parable that reads almost like a children’s story. It’s simple. It’s plain. It’s predictable. And it sounds like it’s been retold in Sunday school more times than I can think of. But underneath the simple imagery is a real truth that Jesus wanted His hearers to grasp as He concluded His teaching. It’s a real truth that He wants everyone to hear.
In the parable, Jesus offers us two builders, who build two houses, and we see two distinct outcomes, based upon one striking difference. This difference is in the way each builder receives and processes the Word of God.
Here, let me summarize: There is a wise builder, and he is distinguished as wise because he hears Jesus’ teachings and then puts them into practice. The other builder is foolish, and he is foolish because he hears Jesus’ teachings and does not put them into practice. Now, in an act of complete literary suspense, the wise builder, true to form, builds a house on a solid foundation, and his house withstands the rains and remains standing. Now, the foolish builder, shockingly, builds a house that is not structurally sound. It is built on sand and the same rains come down and destroy his house. And when the dust settles, the moral of the parable is this: Obey Jesus!
This reads like a children’s story. I yawn at the predictable premise and conclusion. But I have to stop myself and think about the implications of this parable, because they are alarming.
The startling reality is that each builder is building something. Something tangible. Something real. There is work involved. There are time, energy, and resources being used by each man. And yet, only one house stands. Only one house has lasting value.
As we look underneath this little tale, a question emerges: Do you want your time, energy, and resources to matter? Do you want them to count for something true? Then build your foundation on the rock. That rock is the Word of God, and it is rooted in Christ Jesus.
And now, we’re talking about faith. An adult concept for sure, but one that asks us to be “childlike.” Isn’t it just like the Lord to bring us to a place of humility through a simple truth?
May God’s Word transform us. May our houses, built on the Rock, withstand the storms.
Pastor Ben McEntee