Summary: Jesus says if we listen to his teachings and obey them, we’ll weather any and all storms that come our way. Why? Why do His words have this power?
Searching for Solid Ground
In 1174 the Italian architect Bonnano Pisano began work on what would become his most famous project: A separately standing bell tower for the Cathedral of the city of Pisa [Show pics]. The tower was to be eight-stories and 185-foot-tall tall.
There was just one "little" problem: builders quickly discovered that the soil was much softer than they had anticipated, and the foundation was far too shallow to adequately hold the structure!
And sure enough, before long the whole structure had begun to tilt... and it continued to tilt... until finally the architect and the builders realized that nothing could be done to make the Leaning Tower of Pisa straight again.
It took 176 years to build the Tower of Pisa and during that time many things were done to try and compensate for the "tilt." Foundation was shored up; the upper levels were even built at an angle to try to
make the top of the tower look straight.
Nothing worked. The tower has stood for over 800 years, but it leans 18 feet away from where it should be. One day, experts say, it will fall. All because it wasn’t built on the right foundation.
Today’s passage asks us a key question. It’s the kind of question that’s easy to miss. It’s the kind of question that’s easy to gloss over. It’s the kind of question that’s hard to answer.
Today’s passage wraps up our study this year of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God. The last two verses of Matthew chapter 7 sum up what his listeners thought of this
It says: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law". Matthew 7:28-29.
Jesus spoke with authority. Commanding authority. He didn’t recite the law and the rules and regulations that were attached to the law like other teachers did. He taught with authority, and his authority came
from the fact that he spoke what he lived
He said what he both believed to be true and what he had spent his whole lifetime practising in real time.
A quick review: He begins with the beatitudes. He outlines the attitudes toward life that lead to joy
and that lead to blessing and that honour God. He tells us, “Don’t hide the light you have...let it shine before all people.
He says that he fulfills all the law and the prophets. He tells us to be careful about taking all our cues from religious leaders. Listen to God more than you listen to Kerry or Jan or Bill or Rick or me.
He tells us to be reconciled with each other before we go to God in worship. He tells us to guard our thoughts lest they take over and lead us to sinful actions. He says “Live with integrity. When you say
something, mean it. Gain a reputation as an honest person by your actions”.
He says love your enemies. Pray for them. He says “Be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect”. Set your sites high. He says “Don’t blow your own horn when
you do good. He teaches us to pray a Kingdom prayer that connects us with all humanity.
He says “Don’t worry! God is looking after you!” He says “Put God first and He will supply all your needs”. He says: “Don’t judge”. “Ask, trust and receive”. “Follow the narrow way”. Make God # 1.
A little later on in Matthew’s gospel he challenges us to change and become like little children, to embrace the humility that is natural to young ones who
know that they have much to learn, much to pick up on.
And then at the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus challenges us to listen to all that he has said. To really listen. To really absorb it. And then to live it, like he lived it.
“Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. Rain poured down, rivers flooded, and winds
beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on solid rock.
Anyone who hears my teachings and doesn’t obey them is like a foolish person who built a house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the winds blew and beat against that house. Finally, it fell with a crash”. Matthew 7:24-27 CEV
Why? Why are the thoughts of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus like a solid rock? What is it about them that enables us to withstand the storms of life? What do our Lord’s teachings help us to do?