Build on the Rock
Sermon based on Matthew 7:21-29
Sunday, June 26, 2011 – Pentecost 2A
Once upon a time there were three little pigs. They had all grown up and were ready to leave home and build a house of their own. The first little pig, built his house of straw, the second built his house with sticks. But the third little pig built his house with bricks. You know the rest of the story… When the Big Bad Wolf came along, he huffed and he puffed, and the quality of the three homes was revealed for what it was.
This morning in the conclusion to his Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells a similar story. Jesus, the Master Builder, reminds us that how you build your house—how you build your life—is crucial to how it stands. This morning he encourages us to build on the Rock. The Foundation on which you build is key! But, the foundation is already laid. Listen now to Jesus warning and comfort as he concludes his Sermon on the Mount. We read Matthew 7:21-19…
21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' 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." 28 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.
I. The Foundation is Key
If your house has a crack in the wall, if the windows aren't quite straight, if the floor doesn't quite seem level, you may have a very serious underlying problem. It may be a problem with your foundation. Unless you contact their company immediately, they suggest, your house could quickly become unsafe, even deadly.
The foundation of a building is crucial, isn't it? No matter how high the quality of building materials, no matter how experienced the construction crew, if the foundation on which the building sits is broken, the building will soon be broken too.
Sure building on sand might be quicker. It might be easier. It might be cheaper. It may offer quicker access to the beach. The house built on sand may appear to be just fine, and in fact would be just fine… at least during the dry season; as long as there's no wind or rain. But when the stormy season hits, what appeared to be fine will be revealed for what it is. Like the homes in California built on the bluffs, when the storms come, their foundations are washed away with everything on them, leaving its residents homeless at best, or even worse… dead.
Of course, Jesus isn't talking about construction. He's talking about building our lives. The sand is the foundation the world builds on—having enough money in investments to feel secure, having a plan B so you're always prepared, having family there to help and support you, having a positive mental outlook on life no matter what happens. And while these may seem fine foundations at first, what happens when the rainy seasons hit? When you get laid off, when the economy crashes, when your family moves away, when depression hits? When the streams of trouble rise, the weak foundation is washed away and the slightest breeze sends your house crashing to ground.
And ultimately, even if you can cope fine with the drizzles and breezes of this life resting on such a weak foundation, when the hurricane forces of Judgment Day hit, then the foundation on which we've built our lives will be revealed. If you trust the foundation of your good works and your life will be destroyed in eternity because God demands sinless perfection. And trusting in your good efforts or your good intentions won't save you either, because your best isn't good enough. Jesus says, 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Now one might assume that to do the will of the Father means to follow all his commands; to do all things Jesus tells us to do in the Sermon on the Mount. But if that's the case, how unsettling to hear Jesus say that the only who will withstand the torrent of Judgment Day s the one "who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice…" because, let's face it: None of us have perfectly put into practice what Jesus says. If Jesus said of those who not only heard the Word of God, but prophesied it; of those who not only resisted the devil, but drove out demons; of those who not only believed in Jesus' miracles, but did miracles themselves, "I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' what can we expect he'd say to us? Trust in our efforts and our works, and we trust in a foundation of sand.
So, what is the will of God? What is the firm foundation? Or really, who is the firm foundation? It's none other than Jesus. The foundation that's already been laid…
II. The Foundation is Already Laid
In John 6:28 the Jews asked Jesus what the will of God was. Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (John 6:29) Again in John 6:40 he said, "My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
While we naturally think the will of God is something we do, Jesus said that the will of God is to trust the one he sent—to believe in him and trust not in what we do, but what he has done already. Jesus took our sins on himself—our sinful neglect of his Word, our rebellion against his commands, our impure thoughts and actions, our unkind words spoken in anger or frustration, our every sin of thought, word or deed, and nailed them to Jesus on the cross. We are forgiven.
But in that act of dying on the cross, he also gave his life of sinless perfection to us. We are righteous. When God looks at you and me, he sees those who have perfectly carried out God's will, who have flawlessly put his words into action. When God does his home inspection into our lives he sees perfect saints, who not only look good on the outside, but are good inside and out.
This is the one firm foundation—Christ the Rock. Every other foundation—anything else in which we place our trust is sinking sand. That's why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:11, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."
When Jesus spoke this conclusion to his Sermon on the Mount, he he taught as one who had authority" not to terrify, but to comfort. He said, "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.
Because we're built on this rock, when the hurricane of God's wrath is poured out on Judgment Day, we'll stand unscathed. When the problems of life hit, we can deal with them. When we're hurt or depressed, we know there's an end in sight. Built on the Rock, we will stand.
Rejoice, dear friends, that your solid foundation has already been laid! And now don't be like the foolish man, who heard the Word of God, but refused to put it into practice. Instead, continue to build your home on this Rock so you can continue to stand.
When your spouse or friend hurts you, forgive just as Christ the Rock has forgiven you. When you're worn out and feeling selfish and don't feel like serving others, look to the Rock and see how he served you, giving even his life on the cross for you, and long to serve him by serving others. When you're tired and don't feel like reading his Word or going to worship, look to the Rock, remember what he's done for you, and long to learn more about his love for you, long to encourage others and be encouraged in the Word, to grow in your faith.
Then, when the storms of trouble hit your lives, when Satan huffs and he puffs and tries to blow you down, you'll stand firm. Then, when death or Judgment Day comes like a hurricane, you'll be just fine, because you'll be firmly planted on the sure foundation—the Rock of Christ. And when you're on your deathbed, you can boldly confess:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness;
I dare to make no other claim
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand. Amen.