“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 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.” (Luke 6: 46-48)
This is a very familiar scripture: we all know about building on the Rock and building in sand. I remember being taught it at Primary school, the best part of 60 years ago: the graphic image stayed with me and has grown out of the seed that took root in my life in that classroom in a little village in Kent in 1960. I can’t say I understood it at the time, and whether any of us will ever fully understand the power and depth of those words before we are actually face to face with the One who spoke them is doubtful, but as I read them this morning I felt another shaft of light shine out of the passage. Not in the verses themselves, but in their immediate context.
This illustration came at the end of the sermon on the mount, when Jesus gave His disciples the blueprint of the Kingdom of God. It was the 10 commandments moment of life in the Spirit. He had just said that “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (v. 40), and He reinforces here the importance of taking His training seriously: there is only one way we can build the house of our Christian lives, and that is to dig deep into our hearts to excavate all the shifting sand that the world and the flesh have poured in, and replace it with the truth of the Word of God.
That in itself isn’t what struck me; it’s what happened afterwards. We are told at the end of Mark’s gospel that the Lord, by His Spirit, would go with us as we preach the word, confirming it with signs and wonders following. But this principal wasn’t initiated after Pentecost: it was already at work here, when Jesus first preached the Kingdom of God.
“Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die.” (Luke 7:1-2)
We know what happened next. What the miracle of the centurion’s servant confirms is the absolute authority not just of Jesus Himself, but of the word that He speaks. There is no contact between the centurion and the Lord: first he sends “The elders of the Jews” to go and seek Him out, then as He approaches the house he sends his friends out to ask Him to just “say the word and my servant will be healed.”
Just say the word. Jesus has just taught us to dig deep into our hearts to get rid of the sand and replace it with His word. He has said that we, as disciples, will be like our teacher if we do; and if we do there is no storm-tossed wind or wave that will knock it down. Then He confirms this teaching with a sign of the mighty authority and power that His words carry. Be merciful … forgive … Give, and it shall be given unto you… These are words of power and authority which are the bedrock of all that is eternal, and of everything that will stand as storms batter our houses in these days.
What are the words that Jesus has spoken to you? Dig deep into your heart and make sure that they are the foundations of what you build. Do what He says, and not only will you continue to grow to be like Jesus, but your house will stand whatever storm lashes against the walls.