The Rock and the Sand
Matthew 7:24-27
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house on a rock:

Christ turns from the judgment of the teacher, in the parable of the tree and the fruit, to the judgment of the hearer, in the parable now before us. The hearer is responsible as well as the teacher.

I. LIVING IS BUILDING. Every man is building himself a house, for all life-work is the putting together of a habitation in which the worker will have to dwell. Some build feebly and set up but slight structures, mere huts and shanties. Others work with more ambitious designs, and will make themselves spacious mansions, gorgeous palaces, or massive castles. Whatever a man builds, in that he must dwell. We cannot get away from the results of our own life-work. These will either become a shelter to protect us or a ruin to fall about our heads.

II. THE SECURITY OF A BUILDING IS DETERMINED BY THE SOLIDITY OF THE FOUNDATION. Our Lord's imagery would be particularly vivid in his own country. Nazareth is built in a cleft of the hills, some of its houses perched on jutting rocks. A similar character of foundation would be found in the neighbourhood of Gennesaret, where Jesus was now teaching. If the foundation is rotten, the greater the building the more insecure will it be, and the greater will be the fall thereof when it comes down. It is vain and foolish to be bestowing care on the towers and pinnacles while the foundation is giving way. Efforts spent on mere ornamentation are quite wasted if the question of the foundation has not been first of all carefully attended to. Yet in practical life this is the last thing that many consider. They would reach the goal without entering the strait gate; they would gather the fruit without grafting in the right stock; they would complete the house without attending to the foundation. Yet the first great question is as to what we are building on.

III. THE FOUNDATION WILL BE TESTED. All is well at first. The house on the sand looks as fair and solid as that on the rock. Perhaps it is of a more pretentious character. But the calm dry weather will not last for ever. The rainy season ensues. Torrents scour the mountain-sides and sweep the loose soil from the rocks. Wind and rain beat on the house at the same time that it is being undermined by the raging flood that washes the sand from beneath its foundation. This is like the persecution and tribulation that scorch the growth on the stony ground (ch. 13:20, 21). Trouble is a test of the foundation of a professedly Christian life. Death is a great final test.

IV. THE SOLID FOUNDATION IS OBEDIENCE. A careless hearer of this parable might be ready to assume that Christ is the Foundation, and that faith in him is building on that Foundation. Of course, these are truths expressed elsewhere (e.g. 1 Corinthians 3:11). But they are not the lessons of the present parable. Our Lord is distinctly warning us against a superficial profession of allegiance to himself (vers. 22, 23). All is useless if there is not obedience. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). In other words, the only living faith in Christ is that which proves its existence by bringing forth fruit in active service. Only they are on the rock who do what Christ teaches. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

WEB: "Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock.

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