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A HOUSE BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION OF ROCK

Luke 6:46-6:49
Key Verse: 6:48a

In the last lesson Jesus used the metaphor of a tree and its fruit to describe that a person is likened to a tree. Jesus wanted us to be more concerned about being a good tree than just about being fruitful. Luke expressed Jesus' words in the negative form, “No good tree bears bad fruit nor does a bad tree bear good fruit,” emphasizing that it is impossible for a good tree to bear bad fruit and for a bad tree to bear good fruit. One should grow to be a good tree, if the person wants to bear good fruit. Today’s passage is the conclusion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke’s gospel, and this is the same as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel. In this passage Jesus uses the metaphor of architecture to show that each one is like a house-builder, that is: life is like building a house. He compares a house built on the foundation of rock and a house built on the ground without a foundation. The former could withstand the torrent, but the latter collapsed and was completely destroyed. Those who practice his words are like the house with a foundation; those who do not, like the house without a foundation. Let’s think about how we should build our life-house.

First, the significance of Jesus’ words. Look at verse 26. “‘Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Lord is really a big word, equivalent to ‘YWHW’ (In NIV ‘LORD’) in the Old Testament. “Who is the Lord?” has been the great question in human history. Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus’ agony was that they called the Lord Jesus with their lips but they did not seem to believe from their hearts. Jesus once said to some Pharisees, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…” (Mt 15:7; Mk 7:6). In fact, in our time many Christians say, “I am not a practicing Christian.” Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “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.” Jesus was very serious regarding this kind of people.

Look at verses 47-49. “I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Who in the world can put such confidence in the significance of his words to say that practicing his words is deterministic of life standing or life collapsing? But Jesus said this, for Jesus was more than certain about his words.

Luke makes it clear in his gospel that Jesus’ words are the very word of God. As we studied, Luke 5:1 says, “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowing around him and listening to the word of God.” Jesus said in John 7:16, “…My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me” (Jn 7:16). He also said in John 5:24, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” So Jesus’ words are the matter of eternal life and eternal death. And Jesus said in Luke 20:33, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mt 24:35; Mk 13:31).

Definitely, his words are related to who he is. He is truly the Lord. He is Lord and King from birth, as an angel said to Mary, “…The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob; his kingdom will never end” (Lk 1:32-33).

Second, the comparison of the two houses. Now let’s think about the two houses. Look at verse 48 again. “He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” “Well built,” what a comment! How can we define a “well built” house? According to Jesus it is not the house with many beautiful windows and other decorations, but the house with the foundation. The “well built” house could endure the torrent and stood firm. But the other house was built on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck the house, it collapsed and was completely destroyed.

It is said that in Palestine in the summer, many of the rivers dry up altogether, leaving sandy riverbeds empty of water. But after the September rains come, the empty riverbeds become raging torrents. Mostly, builders are brilliant people who figure out every detail of their plans, but myopia is their fateful problem, neglecting to think about what their chosen house would be like six months afterward. Their nearsightedness makes them sophomoric and lazy. They quickly build the house on the ground without a foundation.

Those who are far-sighted can make every effort to lay the foundation. This work of foundation-laying is laborious and time-consuming. Luke particularly used the words, “…dug down deep” Digging down deep under the ground is most difficult work and takes a lot of time. Yet, this is the most important step in house-building. After laying a foundation, it is comparatively easy to build up stories upon it. In our condo there are five stories of parking lots, from P1 to P5. On that foundation the building, ascends up to the 30th story.

The Tower of Pisa is tilted because of inadequate foundation (it was completed 1372). Last week a five-story building in Ghana’s capital collapsed killing at least 9 people, because of bad foundation. On January 26, 2012, a 20-story building in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil collapsed, killing at least 17 people. Authorities suggested that illegal construction work had weakened the 20-story building. On April 24, 2013 Ranza Plaza, an 8 story commercial building collapsed in Savar, a district of Bangladesh. The death toll from the collapse was 1,129. The collapse of a building is a tragic event.

There was a great earthquake in Tokyo (in 1923), causing the deaths of nearly 100,000. All the buildings were destroyed. But surprisingly one building (The Imperial Hotel) did not collapse. People wondered, “How was this possible?” This building was built by an American architect (Frank Lloyd) Wright. When he began make plans for this building, many people complained. For the house, if built according to his plan, had a costly foundation. So from the beginning the building project was a target of criticism. But later on, only this building was left standing amid the great earthquake. This event indicates the importance of laying a foundation. It requires good plan, high cost, great patience and even misunderstanding and criticism. Yet, it is worthwhile in the end.

We know that torrents come to each house of life. We cannot prevent the torrent, as we cannot prevent natural disasters in this fallen world. However, we can prevent the effect of the torrent according to how we build our house of life. We often hear about celebrities’ suicides. Such tragic events happen when they cannot not handle the increase or the decrease of their popularity. When they were overwhelmed by the burdens of life, their last resort is to end their lives by themselves. We are sure that fame cannot be the foundation of life. Neither can riches of the world, title, careers, achievements, nor other external things of life. 1 Peter 1:24 says, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.” We can say that youth is the time to lay a foundation of life. Health, education, job, good human relationships are all needed. Yet, what can be truly the foundation of life, especially at the time of youth? Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “…no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” It is true that Jesus is the foundation of life. However, we can think more specifically. According to Jesus, the foundation of life is practicing his words, that is, the obedience to the word of God.

As we studied in Genesis chapter 1, God made the wold by his word of command. The phrases “God said” and “it was so” were repeated. God’s word was obeyed and all things were made. Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” So the foundation of God’s created world was his word. And the universe is sustained by his word (Heb 1:3). This is the natural world and the order is there. Then in Genesis chapter 2, God specially prepared the Garden of Eden, and even established a family for man’s happiness. The key of the Garden of Eden was his holy command, so-called “Adam’s Bible”: The LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Ge 2:16,17). When Adam disobeyed this holy command of God, the order of love was broken and all the happiness was gone. He became a fallen man and was cast out of the Garden of Eden. The world became the world under a curse and Adam had to live in the cursed world. But God in his mercy began his redemptive work by calling one man Abraham with his words of promise, “…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Ge 12:1,2). And he laid the foundation of his redemptive work by raising the one man Abraham as a man of obedience. When Abraham obeyed God to the point of obeying God’s command to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac, God was so pleased and confirmed his promise given to Abraham at the time of his calling and said, “…through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me” (Ge 22:18). In this way the foundation of God’s redemptive work was laid. Then when God’s set time had fully come, God sent his Son Jesus into this world. The Son Jesus obeyed God unto death, even death on a cross (Php 2:8) for the salvation of mankind. Thus he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Heb 5:9).

God’s children are to be the children of obedience. They are distinguished from those who are disobedient. According to Paul, the spirit of this world, that is the evil one, is at work among the disobedient (Eph 2:2). The children of God are to put Jesus’ words into practice. Jesus said in Luke 8:21, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Paul also said in Philippians 4:9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.”

How can we put Jesus’ words into practice? Jesus particularly said in Luke’s gospel, “…dug down deep.” Spiritually it is to dig down deep into our hearts. It is to think over and over God’s word through constant meditation. God’s words are to be trusted and tested and tried. Putting the words of God into practice is the process of trusting, testing and trying until we know that God’s words are personally true to me. In this way we can keep God’s words deep in our hearts. For example, Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Lk 12:31). Who can truly believe this promise at the critical times? This promise of God needs to be trusted, tested and tried. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” To believe this promise is a great challenge to each of us when things do not go as we expected, especially when tragic things happen in our lives. This promise of God is also to be trusted, tested and tried to be proven that this word of God’s promise is true personally. The trusted, tested and tried and proven word of God can be the foundation of life.

We see an excellent example of how to build a house of life in Noah. While all other people ignored God’s message of the flood judgment, he took the message seriously. And when God gave him detailed instructions how to build the ark of salvation, he completely followed the instructions. The author of Genesis described Noah’s obedience like this: “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (6:22) and “Noah did all that the LORD commanded him” (7:5). He built the ark of salvation in complete obedience to God’s command and in the holy fear of God (Heb 11:7). When the flood came as God had warned, all were wiped out but only Noah and those who were with him in the ark survived (7:23).

In the Sermon on the Plain, we could hear the precious words of Jesus, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man…Love your enemies…Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful…Do not judge…Do not condemn…Forgive…Give…No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bears good fruit…” Jesus wants us to put these words of his into practice so that our house of life may be like a house with a foundation on rock.

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