“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
More than good advice.
I think that’s essentially what Jesus is saying about his teaching. This isn’t just good advice he’s offering, a few things for us to think about, consider at out leisure, and add to our daily regimen when we have time. No. These words are at the core of what it means to be human, to be children of God who know and share God’s love, to be citizens of the Kingdom Jesus inaugurates.
So maybe we should think back, ever so briefly, to the core elements of Jesus’ message. God honors and blesses those whom the world does not consider honorable and blessed. God loves us and looks for us to love each other by taking care that our words and actions honor each other as fellow children of God. God wants us to be real, to get over ourselves enough to engage in acts of mercy, prayer, and worship because that’s who we are, not because we want others to notice us. God desires that we use the law to help each other rather than judge each other. And God wants us to see that the best way to honor God is to honor our relationships and the best way to love God is to love each other.
Which is why Jesus starts here, on this mountain, teaching his disciples then and now what it means to be human, to be children of God, to be citizens of God’s kingdom. Because these words are not just foundational to our lives, but to his mission as well. For in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reveals that at the core of all of life is God’s profound love for us and God’s desire that we love each other.
Which is why these words are more than good advice. Eugene Peterson again catches both the content and flavor of Jesus’ teaching well in his translation, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language:
“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
So listen carefully, build well, live abundantly, and take these words to heart.
Prayer: Dear God, let us not just hear your words but do them, loving each other as you love us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.