“House on the rock.” Matthew 7:24
These three verses are the very last words of the sermon, and fittingly so. The crowds have just listened to an incredible display of wisdom and ethics, filled throughout with dichotomies between the hypocrites and those whose Father is in heaven, between the good fruit and bad, between the wide and the narrow gates. Jesus declares plainly that there is no passive listening to this sermon, or any of his words: the people in the crowds simply must make a decision about how they will respond. Not whether, but how.
The one who puts Jesus’s words into action is the one who believes on him for salvation and is thereby freed to live out, by the Spirit’s power, this ethic, not to earn favor but out of a thankful heart, a heart secure in God’s love. This one is like the house that withstands tragedy.
The one who decides to not put these words into action does not stand when the tragedy hits. Even the one who waits to act does not know that this tragedy might come before they have made up their mind. To wait is to choose inaction; it is only delusion that there is some middle ground.
This isn’t totally unlike other decisions in our lives. Perhaps we want to date someone, but linger in asking them out for one reason or another. We may think simply that our minds aren’t made up, but while we wait, we only count as “single.” If another person comes and asks the target of our affection out, we have no claim on them: we made no decision, no move.
Now, this is an imperfect analogy of course, because no one is going to come and snatch Jesus away from you! It is only meant to demonstrate that waiting is an imprecise gambling; if we have no reason to do so, we certainly shouldn’t. We do not know what will come or when. Notice, for example, that the storm comes to both houses. Jesus doesn’t promise that the house built on the rock is spared winds, waves, and rivers, but that it will be spared when they come. Every life will be hit by storms major and minor, and at the very end the ultimate storm of death and judgment will come.
These passages must shake us out of any complacency, either about our own lives or the lives of those around us. There are so many reasons that can be given to tone Jesus down, to delay in obedience. We get distracted by our classes, jobs, and friendships. We think that because we’ve always been fine, we always will be fine. Or perhaps we’ve rarely been fine, and don’t see how a commitment to Jesus can bring any change. We see the lives of our friends and decide for them that they would be turned off by Jesus, that they’re not interested in his values, words and offer. Sin and busyness blind us and lie to us: it’s Jesus here who yells to us at the top of his voice, cutting through the noise pollution in our mind, calling us to come and find life, and to join him in inviting others.
He wants to be your rock, to cause your house to stand, to see you flourish in his care and under his authority—this gives him glory, to be shown as strong, and gives him joy, to be in relationship with you. He wants to be this for your friends, your family, and your classmates. Take a moment to ponder: what do you want?