Wise or foolish? Devotional Commentary for January 24-30
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
And Jesus continued:
24Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
25and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
27and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
28And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching,
29for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Jesus concludes His Sermon on the Mount with a vivid illustration, definitively portraying those who would respond to His teachings and those who would stray from His exhortations. He identifies the adherent as a wise builder and the heedless as a foolish developer. The wise raises an enduring structure that is firmly grounded while the foolish assembles a tottering building about to crash to its demise.
A wise builder understands what it takes to construct a strong house that can effectively withstand the elements. He would know to lay down a strong foundation of rocks and sturdy constituents. Jesus says anyone who would listen to Him and heed His word is like such a builder. A true follower of Jesus would realize that one needs to know, understand, and observe Kingdom principles to live in the Kingdom as a true citizen of the Kingdom of God.
But a foolish man is not like that. He would take the opposite path. A foolish man looks for the quickest way to erect a building without taking time to lay down a reliable foundation. Jesus compares those who listen to Him but disregard His teachings with a foolish man who builds his house with no foundation. Such a man does his work unwisely.
Both houses pose a similar image. Each one stands upright projecting the semblance of a well-built structure. But their appearance does not tell the full story. Whereas both structures appear sound and well-constructed, their ability to withstand the elements would not be the same due to a fundamental difference between the two buildings. When the rains come with a heavy downpour, when the floods flow in a deluge, when the winds blow with a violent storm and bear down on the houses, one of them shall remain standing while the other shall crash to pieces with a great fall.
Jesus says those who hear His Words and do them are like the house built by a wise builder. The house built by a wise builder is strong enough to withstand the elements because it is constructed on a strong foundation. So are the Words of Jesus to those who listen and obey them. Those who are firmly grounded in the Words of Jesus shall never be moved by hostilities and persecutions. They are like a secure house built on a strong foundation. Jesus Himself is their Foundation. He is the Rock.
Those who hear Jesus' Words but disregard His teachings are like the house built by a foolish developer. The foolish builder pays no attention to the significance of a strong foundation. He just rears up a structure that appears well-built. And when the elements beat upon it, there is nothing to hold it in place. It stands on a pile of sand. So are those who hear the Words of Jesus and give no thoughtful attention to His teachings.
So Jesus concludes His teaching by exhorting the crowd to do what they have learned from His Words. Unlike the Scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus spoke with Authority and the people noticed. He reminds the crowd that these are His Words. And yet, some heard and obeyed. Others also heard but paid no attention. Some were wise. Others were foolish.
We have now come to the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus finally brought His magnificent teaching to a specific conclusion with definite choices and consequences. The listening crowd was stunned because He spoke with Authority and purpose. It was a call to action. It was not a teacher's instruction merely explaining options. He was not like the Scribes and the Pharisees. He spoke the truth because He is the Truth.
Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount have two aspects, at least. First, these are His Words, Jesus' Words. They are not a teacher's rendition of some wise sayings. Second, they are Jesus' Words to be heard and heeded. Whoever hears Jesus' Words is held accountable by what he or she heard. Listeners must respond individually, either in obedience or disobedience. These choices are consequential. The obedient shall endure while the indifferent or disobedient shall perish, as depicted by the illustration of a well-founded house and a loosely erected structure.
Like the wise builder who laid down a good foundation for his house, Jesus provided a solid and reliable foundation with His Words because He knew what true discipleship requires. Jesus identified His Words with Himself by asserting that these are His sayings, not just the Words He spoke, but actually Himself as He is the Word of God Who became flesh and dwelt among us. Therefore, Jesus provided Himself as the true and enduring Foundation for those who hear His Words and obey them.
He is our Wisdom. He is our Foundation. Hearing Jesus' Words and doing them become meaningful only when we have a personal relationship with Him as our Savior. Because He is our sure Foundation, we respond to His Words in obedience. We obey Him because we love Him. Love cultivates obedience. We respond in action because we have faith in Him and His Words. Faith generates action.