At the close of sermon on the mount, Jesus spoke this parable.
Matthew 7:24-29 (NKJV)
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” 28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Luke 6:47-49 (NKJV)
47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”
This parable shows the importance of making the right decisions in life. The audience that Jesus was speaking to, had a choice to make. Jesus is trying to persuade them to make the decision to follow him. Notice this part of the discourse: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them,…” Matt 7:24. Jesus knew the trials and calamities that were about to come on the Jews. He was “not willing that any should parish.” 2Pet 3:9.
This parable is one more in a series of attempts to persuade the people to follow him despite any coming hardships. He his telling them that there will be trials coming their way; “…the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house…” Matt 7:27 He was actually offering them a choice; Life or Death. John 3:16
Christ likens his teachings, his life, his way, to a ROCK. 1Cor 10:4, Matt 16:18, 2Tim 2:19, Eph 2:20, John 14:6, Deut 32:4, Isa 28:16 He is offering a solid foundation upon which to build, that will withstand all their coming temptations and trials. The choice they make will reveal what type of hearts they have. Will they believe the prophets, believe Jesus, and be saved? Or, will they chose to remain in the old way, the Old Covenant, and remain in the house that was soon to be swept away? Later, Christ reveals what will precede his coming:
Matthew 10:34-39 (NKJV)
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
This parable emphasizes the steadfastness of a rock as a foundation upon which to build one’s life on earth. And, Christ declares that the man who chooses Him, as the rock upon which to build, is a wise man. For us, looking back on that time that Jesus spoke these words, and knowing the history of that nation, we see that only the wise were saved from the prophesied destruction. And only the wise obtained salvation. Heb 9:28, Rom 13:11, 2Tim 3:15, Prov 3:19-21
It has been surmised that afflictions of that time came in three ways: First, the physical challenges of life during that tribulation. Second, the persecutions of evil men. Third, the various attacks by Satan and his angels! How difficult it must have been for Christians to endure.
A stern description and warning was given to those who did not accept him. 26 But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Notice also that the word house, was used by Jesus in another place to refer to the Jewish nation and their system. Matt 23:37-38 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;
Christ knew that builders are attracted to a level surface of sand rather than to a site that requires digging to reach a rock foundation. This is similar to the choice Lot made for pasture, not counting the cost of the nearness of the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Gen 13:10-13
The Pharisees, and many of the other Jews, chose the easy way with the external blessings and privileges of their existing covenant. While the houses in the parable might appear externally equal, their stability differed greatly. The Old Covenant was coming to an end and would soon be swept away. Heb 12:27-28
The immediate application of Christ’s words for his 1st century audience soon ended. But the parable remains as a wonderful spiritual lesson for all time. It has inspired many hymns, such as this one:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
Edward Mote, c. 1834
Brent E. Hughes