This week, Andrea spoke from Matthew 7:24-29, which is the closing passage of the sermon on the mount. This sermon taught by Jesus is an amazing piece of scripture. It is Jesus’ longest recorded scripture and it spans two chapters. It begins with the Beatitudes, which describes the traits and qualities that Jesus looks for in His followers. The sermon also talks about anger, lust, salt and light, good fruit versus bad fruit, the law, specs and logs, loving your enemies, giving to the needy, retaliation, prayer, money, worry, fasting, enticing others, asking, seeking and knocking.
Jesus then goes on to tell the story of a man who built his house on a rock. A rock is a solid foundation, and because the man built his house there, it did not fall when the storms came, unlike another man, who built his house on the sand, whose house was washed away when the wind and waves came. The truth is that Jesus isn’t talking about literal houses, but uses this to illustrate the idea of our life. If we are to be like the man who built his house on a rock, we must behave in the way that Jesus describes in the earlier verses. If we don’t, then we have built our house on the sand and when the storms of life come at us, we will be washed away because our foundations are not firm. This is a very simple case of cause and effect. We can hear and obey, or we will crumble.
Andrea said that she had three key points for us to discuss:
- Jesus advises us to exercise caution and if we are unsure, we are to do two things – hear His words, and put them into practice.
The truth is that God always gives us a choice. In the garden of Eden, there was the choice of good or evil, in the Old Testament, it was the choice of life or death, and in the New Testament, it was Jesus or nothing.
We are not asked to be passive in this choice, but to make firm decisions rooted in God’s word. This choice is quite simple. It comes down to whether we are to choose God, or not. We are the ones who build our lives, and we can choose whether we will build it for good or evil. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that if they simply live a good life, that they are doing the right thing, but in the end, it all comes back to God. Good isn’t God, and without God, there is nothing that is truly good, because we all fall short of the glory of God. We are flawed, and we will always fall, it is only the grace of God that is able to save us. If we choose God, then we are choosing good.
- Put it into practice – hear all of it.
Using the illustration of a jenga tower, Andrea explained that we cannot pick and choose which parts we want to follow. It is not a case of us deliberately choosing to build on a weak foundation. Often we make compromises, and explain away what we feel are ‘lesser sins’. Life is difficult, and emotions are not simple. We can look at something like anger and say that it’s not that bad because we haven’t killed or hurt anyone, but Jesus tells us that if we bear anger towards anyone and refuse to forgive them, then we, ourselves cannot be forgiven. We cannot expect God to forgive us when we are carrying unforgiveness around in our hearts.
Nowadays, we don’t like to use the word ‘evil’, preferring to use rather more ‘user friendly’ terms for it, but the truth is that evil is evil, no matter what form it comes in, and allowing ourselves to remove bricks in the form or ‘lesser sins’ from our foundations will make us all the more likely to fall completely. We need to look at our own actions and make them right, rather than judging others. Although there is forgiveness, we must stand for justice, because the things we hold in our hearts have the capacity to strengthen or weaken our foundations.
Andrea then told us that the good news is that our foundations are set. We will all waver from time to time, but God’s grace covers us. God’s got us. Though our buildings may seem to sway, our foundations are firm because of the grace of God.
The truth is that God doesn’t want perfection, He wants obedience from us. We can build our foundations back up through obedience, and through our own experiences, we can then help other people. Encouraging us as she drew this point to a close, Andrea told us to never think that our wrongdoing is the end, because God’s grace covers us.
- The ultimate authority belongs to Jesus.
The people listening to Jesus were staggered by what He was saying. He teaches with all authority and we can rest safe in His sure and certain knowledge that He has covered us all. In the Old Testament, there was the Law, and man was expected to keep the law in its entirety. This was impossible, and so, there was the need for atonement through the sacrifice of blood. Jesus made this unnecessary, for he made the ultimate sacrifice of blood. This was a new dispensation of grace, where God sacrificed His one and only Son to atone forever for our sin. Jesus is the ultimate High Priest.
Jesus spoke with authority so that we could have control of our lives. The entire Sermon on the Mount is Jesus showing us that there is a new law, which is love. The truth is that if we love Him, we will be obedient for Him. If we love Him them we can love our neighbour and treat others as we want to be treated. In her closing lines, Andrea said that “We can do this through Him, because of Him and for Him, FOREVER”
Scriptures: Matthew 7:24-29