July 4th is a celebration of the American Revolution. An event that transformed our country, philosophically, and politically. More transformative than that revolution is the spiritual revolution Jesus teaches in his sermon on the mount. During His life, the scribes and Pharisees took the power of God’s salvation and turned it onto a bland set of rules accommodating to their own interests. Jesus sees that stagnation and disrupts their assumptions and beliefs. We need the same today. Now, like then, we need a spiritual revolution.
Matthews 5-7 have a distinct path that separates worldly behavior from spiritual behavior, worldly priorities and spiritual priorities, and Matthew 7:24 sums up this challenging sermon with an illustration of two builders – one building upon rock and the other upon sand. These houses represent the purpose of our lives, either built upon a strong foundation or a shifting one.
Building On the True Foundation
By all appearances, both of these builders initially succeed in Matthew 7:24-27. They both want the same thing. They both accomplish the same thing. Both homes are completed. The focus is not the houses so much as the foundations they are built upon.
In Isaiah 28, as God is warning Judah about their wickedness, He looks forward in verse 16 to a foundation stone set in Zion. When Paul in Romans 9 and Peter in I Peter 2 quote these verses, they conclude that the foundation of Isaiah of Christ Jesus. Whoever believes on Him will not be shaken. Ephesians 2:20 calls Jesus the chief cornerstone of our spiritual foundation. Without a strong foundation, nothing can stand.
In Matthew 7, the word Jesus uses for “rock” is the same “rock” upon which his church will be built in Matthew 16:18. It is not a small rock you might toss around. It is a strong stone, but this foundation is not enough alone. Throughout the sermon on the mount, Jesus challenges his audience to faithfully commit themselves to God’s service. Our faith is what seals us to that foundation upon which we build our lives.
The Spiritual Revolution of the Mount
Jesus’ primary audience in this sermon are people who know the law and the prophets. He is warning these against pretend discipleship among those who believe in God but are religiously shallow. Starting in Matthew 5 and going through chapters 6 and 7, Jesus returns time and again to those professing faith without obedience to the God of that faith.
He presents a choice to those around Him. They and we are continually building the houses of our lives, and He challenges us to choose between a foundation of religious pretense or one of truly faithful obedience. One choice leads to ruin and the other to safety. Going through the motions does not automatically place us on the true foundation. We must serve our Savior in faith, obedience, and humility to seal ourselves to Him.
If we are truly committed to Christ, nothing can shake us from His rock. In John 10:27-29, Jesus says none who follow Him can be snatched from Him. Paul, in Romans 8:28-39, asserts that no power of man or nature can separate those who love God from His love for us. His rock is unshakable. The floods can rise. The rains can beat down. The winds can tear, but nothing can shake a foundation built upon the Lord.
lesson by Tim Smelser