A Tale of Two Builders: Matthew 7:21-29

Focus Passage: Matthew 7:21-29 (GW)

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who does what my Father in heaven wants. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?’ 23 Then I will tell them publicly, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you evil people.’

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears what I say and obeys it will be like a wise person who built a house on rock. 25 Rain poured, and floods came. Winds blew and beat against that house. But it did not collapse, because its foundation was on rock.

26 “Everyone who hears what I say but doesn’t obey it will be like a foolish person who built a house on sand. 27 Rain poured, and floods came. Winds blew and struck that house. It collapsed, and the result was a total disaster.”

28 When Jesus finished this speech, the crowds were amazed at his teachings. 29 Unlike their experts in Moses’ Teachings, he taught them with authority.

Read Matthew 7:21-29 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

At the close of Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”, He draws our attention to an illustration contrasting what people who obey His words are like when compared to those who ignores Jesus’ teaching. This illustration is most famous because it has been turned into a children’s song. However, while the song is fun to sing with kids, the illustration itself is very powerful.

Matthew’s version of Jesus’ illustration is more popular. He begins by quoting Jesus as saying, “Therefore, everyone who hears what I say and obeys it will be like a wise person who built a house on rock. Rain poured, and floods came. Winds blew and beat against that house. But it did not collapse, because its foundation was on rock.” (v. 24-25)

Jesus contrasts this wise builder with an example of a foolish one. He continues by saying, “Everyone who hears what I say but doesn’t obey it will be like a foolish person who built a house on sand. Rain poured, and floods came. Winds blew and struck that house. It collapsed, and the result was a total disaster.” (v. 26-27)

While it is easy for us to look at the illustration as a construction example, Jesus really is sharing it as a metaphor for laying the foundation of our lives: obedience to Jesus makes a strong foundation while ignoring Jesus makes a weak foundation.

In my mind’s eye, the builder who built the house on the rock built high above the waterline, perhaps near the edge of a cliff, where they would be plenty of protection from the waves. His house then overlooks the foolish builder who is building on a sandy beach.

But Luke also shares a version of this parable. He describes Jesus opening this parable with a question: “Why do you call me Lord but don’t do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)

This question frames everything that Jesus is about to share. Then He continues by painting us a picture in our minds of two builders: “I will show you what everyone who comes to me, hears what I say, and obeys it is like. He is like a person who dug down to bedrock to lay the foundation of his home. When a flood came, the floodwaters pushed against that house. But the house couldn’t be washed away because it had a good foundation. The person who hears what I say but doesn’t obey it is like someone who built a house on the ground without any foundation. The floodwaters pushed against it, and that house quickly collapsed and was destroyed.” (Luke 6:47-49)

In Luke’s version, we have two homes that might look identical to a casual observer, but the thought process when building each of them was completely opposite. The wise builder focused on making his home strong in the non-visible areas. The foolish builder only cared about the parts of the home that could be seen.

The big key Jesus wants us to take from this illustration is that obedience to His teaching will result in a life that has a solid foundation. By obeying Jesus, we might not avoid challenges, but we will be able to withstand anything that comes our way. When we build our lives on the truth Jesus shared, our lives will be able to survive whatever storms life sends our way.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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