As the Lord brought the Sermon on the Mount to a close, He exhorted His audience to take His teachings to heart. In Mt.7:24-27 Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (English Standard Version)
Most of us enthusiastically embrace this exhortation and particularly enjoy singing the song with our children about the wise man who built his house upon the rock. The simplicity of the Lord’s point should insure that we all understand exactly what He meant by it. However, it is not entirely clear that we actually grasp what the Lord intended for us to understand. We glibly speak about building our spiritual houses on the rock, but what do we mean when we say so? Is it possible we may be overlooking the full implications of what the Lord said?
The Lord’s closing remarks in the Sermon on the Mount are focused on obeying God’s will. In Mt. 7:21-23 the Lord said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (NASB)
The Lord plainly taught that only those who do the Father’s will are going to enter heaven. He then underscored this truth by the exhortation to build on the rock. However, He did not leave us to our own devices to define what building on the rock means. He explicitly said that one who hears His word and does it is the one who is building on the rock (Mt. 7:24). This reinforces His statements in Mt. 7:21-23, especially with regard to those who thought they were doing the Lord’s will, but were not.
It is possible for one to be busy building a spiritual house, but to be doing so on the sand because it is not based upon obedience to God’s word. The people of Mt. 7:21-23 were honest, sincere, religious people who were doing good works in service to the Lord. In their minds they were building on the rock, but the Lord said they actually were practicing lawlessness. In the context, this can only mean that they were not doing God’s will, even though they were sincerely religious.
The obvious lesson from the Lord’s statement at the end of the Sermon on the Mount is that the only way we can build on the rock is to obey God’s will in everything we do. This means that we must do whatever He has commanded in His word. At the end of the Great Commission, Jesus made this very point, saying, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Mt. 28:20a). In Psa. 127:1 Solomon said it this way, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Therefore, let us take the Lord’s teachings to heart and be wise builders by not only hearing what the Lord commanded, but by doing all that He commanded. If we do so, our house will stand all the trials of life, because we have built on the rock.