Summary: Jesus said that unless we put into practice His words of the Sermon on the mount, we are like the foolish builder
Sermon preached on 1/27/02 at Parkview Church of the Nazarene by
J. Richard Lord, Jr.
Ravi Zacharias, a well-known Christian author and teacher did a lectureship at Ohio State University not too long ago. As he was being driven to the lecture, the car passed the new Wexner Art Center. The driver said, “This is a new art building for the university. It’s a fascinating building because it is designed in the post-modernist view of reality.” Zacharias looked at the building and noticed it had no pattern.
Staircases go nowhere. Pillars support nothing. The architect built the building to reflect life. It goes nowhere and makes no sense.
Zacharias says he turned to the man describing it and asked, “Did they do the same thing with the foundation?” He laughed and said, “You can’t do that with a foundation.”
There are many Christians today who say they love the Lord, who feel they are going to heaven, but are living lives of quiet frustration. On the surface, they seem to be successful. They have homes, cars, possessions, family-anything a person could want. They are living the American dream.
But their lives are going nowhere. They have no sense of real accomplishment. The pillars of their life: their faith, their family, their work, lack the emotional and spiritual support they need. Their lives are just like the building at Ohio State, they are going nowhere and life makes no sense.
Their stability is a fragile one. Because they have no support, the slightest upheaval in their existence shatters the structure of their lives. The result is families torn apart, or severely damaged. Peace and contentment are strangers. Their cry is much like Job’s, “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?. . . I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil."(Job 3:11,26)
Psychological problems arise, which lead to physical illness. Stress is high. There is none of the joy and victory that is supposed to be evident in a Christian’s life.
Why is it that some Christians can go through tremendous trials and come through with victory and a glorious and shining testimony, stronger for their trial and are a tremendous witness for Jesus, whereas others seem to be cut asunder by their trial and crash in ignominious defeat?
I think that in this scripture Jesus puts his finger squarely on the problem.
We see in the scripture a description of two people who represent Christians today. We see a person whose “house” withstood a tremendous storm and another person whose “house” “fell with a great crash” in the storm.
The reason the “wise” man’s house withstood the storm was that he “heard the words of mine (Jesus) and put(s) them into practice.”
What “words” was Jesus referring too? The Sermon on the Mount, of course. He had just finished laying down the basic structure of what a Christian disciple should be. This is the foundation of all we are as His disciples.
It has been said that the Sermon on the Mount contains the entirety of Christian theology and doctrine. One could, if all the scripture he possessed was this sermon, lead an exemplary Christian life. If John 3:16 is the gospel or “good news” in a nutshell, then the Sermon on the Mount is the catechism.
All of Christian theology can be derived from the 2,333 words that make up this discourse.
Jesus said in 5:17 that he came to fulfill the law. He completed the Old Testament and the rest of New Testament builds on what He preached here.
It is hard to summarize what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, but I believe that there are three basic messages that He is showing us.
I. WE ARE LOST, BUT WE CAN BE FOUND.
America loves it rugged individualists, our heroes. The person, who, against all odds, struck out by himself and accomplishes great things, wins great battles, thinks for himself and doesn’t fit in the mold of society.
But the reality of life teaches us that we are not constructed to live unto ourselves. The song phrase, “No man is an island, no man stands alone” is very apt in describing the reality of mankind.
The essence of sin is when man attempts to live unto himself. This is when, in the course of our life, we choose to fulfill our own needs above the needs of others. We become our own “gods.” And that is when we become lost. God created us to be a part of Himself, to live under His wing. He is to be our God. When we choose, in the course of our life, to fulfill His needs before we fulfill our own needs, we become found. We become part of something bigger than ourselves.