Two Foundations: A Call to Faith and Obedience - Matthew 7:24-29

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As we come to Matthew 7:24-29 we come to the final section of the Sermon on the Mount – this great sermon from our Lord. And this is a conclusion that we must not ignore. It’s a conclusion in which Jesus warns us of judgment and calls each of us to consider whether or not we are truly His. 

But this final paragraph doesn’t stand on its own, it’s a continuation of a four-part conclusion – and each part reveals a contrast.  First, He speaks of two different paths (7:13-14) and then two different kinds of fruit (7:15-20). Third, He addresses two different professions of faith (7:21-23). Now, we read of two different kinds of builders who build on different foundations (7:24-27). 

As we consider this final contrast and this vivid illustration, we are being called to examine our lives. Are we among the wise who hear the words of Christ and obey or are we among the foolish who hear the words of Christ and ignore or reject them? Jesus helps us see that we all fall into one of these two categories and the end of each group is very different. 

The Call – To Hear and Obey   

As Jesus concludes His sermon, He knows that there will be two responses. The implicit call is to be among those who hear and obey, because hearing and obeying is the mark of those who belong to the Kingdom of God.

The Illustration 

  • Two houses – In this illustration from Jesus we have two men who build two houses. What is implied in this illustration is that the two houses have a lot in common. In fact, from the outside they may appear to have the same builder, despite one major difference. This is consistent with what we’ve seen in the other parts of Jesus’s conclusion. We’ve had wolves that look like sheep, diseased trees that look like healthy trees and unbelievers who look like believers.
  • Two foundations – While the houses may look the same from the outside, there is something about them that is very different. Jesus tells us that the wise man builds his house on the rock while the foolish man builds his house on the sand.
  • The rock of Christ – The wise person is the person who hears the words of Christ and obeys – and those who hear and obey are those who have built their lives on the foundation, which is Christ (James 2:18; James 1:19-25). The Scriptures often refer to Christ as a rock or a foundation – and this is the only rock that will be a sufficient foundation.
  • The sand of self-righteousness – While the wise man builds on that which is solid, the foolish man builds on sand that will shift and move. In the context of the Sermon on the Mount a common foundation is that of self-righteousness. This is the foundation that the religious leaders built on and Jesus has made it clear that it will not be sufficient. Those who build on sand are those who have heard the words of Christ and do not obey (Mt. 13:18-23; Tit. 1:6).
  • The storm – In this illustration the houses are the same, but foundations are different. Something else that is the same is the storm that each house has to endure. The final judgement of God is sometimes referred to as a coming storm and that’s the reference here. One day every person will stand before God – and the question is whether or not we will be able to withstand the storm.
  • The results – The houses are the same, but the foundations are very different; the storm is the same, but results are very different.
  • The house that stands – The hope of every person who hears and obeys the words of Christ is that they will be able to stand on the day of God’s judgment and be welcomed into eternal life. Those who hear and obey are those who have Christ as their foundation. 
  • The house that falls – The fate of every person who hears and does not obey the words of Christ is that they will fall on the day of God’s judgment – and their judgment will be eternal. (Note that each part of Jesus’s four-part conclusion has a reference to the coming judgement of the wicked – 7:13, 7:19; 7:23; 7:27).

Conclusion – Astonishment isn’t enough

After the conclusion of the sermon, the Gospel of Matthew records the response of the crowds who heard this teaching from Jesus. What Matthew says is positive – they were astonished and recognized Jesus as one with authority. However, it’s worth noting that this response is different than the response that Jesus called for. We don’t enter the Kingdom of God through astonishment or even through acknowledging that Jesus has authority. The only response that saves is to repent and place our faith in the finished work of Jesus. When we do this, He will save us and transform us into the kind of people who hear and obey.