Summary: The second in a series on the Parables of Jesus, this expository, three-point sermon explores the stone, the structure, and the storm Jesus described in the parable of the wise and foolish builders.
PARABLES OF JESUS : THE SOLID FOUNDATION
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/9/14
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most famous structures in the world—not because of its gently rising series of arches, but because of its legendary tilt. Construction began on the historic tower in 1173 (840 years ago) and lasted for nearly two centuries. But before the first three levels could be completed, it began to shift on its foundation ever so slightly. Gradually leaning further and further over the centuries, it’s now heralded as the most lopsided structure in the world. In fact, by 1990 the top to the tower was seventeen feet further south than the bottom. It was finally closed to the public for safety concerns and not reopened until 2008. During that time, engineers completed a 25 million dollar renovation project designed to stabilize the tower. They removed 110 tons of dirt, and reduced its legendary lean by about sixteen inches. What was the problem? Bad design? Poor workmanship? An inferior grade of marble? No. The problem was what was underneath. The sandy soil on which the city of Pisa was built was just not stable enough to support a monument of this size. The tower had no firm foundation.
Unfortunately the same can be said of some of us. As Jesus brought his renowned Sermon on the Mount to a close, he ended it with a petite parable—a little illustration about foundations. Here’s what he said:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash” (Matthew 7:24-27 NLT).
Only Jesus could get away with ending a sermon by telling his audience, “Listen and follow my teachings and you’ll be smart. Don’t, and you’re stupid.” But that’s essentially what he says. In this little analogy, Jesus uses three powerful images that are worth meditating on.
• THE STONE
The first image is of the stone, or the solid rock. The stone in this story represents the words and teaching of Jesus, which ought to be the foundation and bedrock of our lives.
The opening words of the book of Hebrews says, “Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets, in visions, dreams, and even face-to-face, telling them little by little about his plans. But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2 TLB). The little red letters splashed across the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are Jesus’ words to the world and to you. But it’s not the red letters that belong to Jesus. It’s the black ones too. They’re all his. The whole Bible is God’s message to mankind.
More than just a biography about God and Jesus, the Bible is a guide for our lives. And that’s why it’s the best-selling book of all time. In fact, more than 100 million Bibles are sold each year. In 2009, the United Bible Societies gave away 431 million copies of the Bible throughout the world. Since the invention of the printing press, at least 12 billion Bibles have been published and distributed. To get a feel for the enormity of that figure, their publication would take nearly 9 million tons of paper, which would fill approximately 495,240 railroad cars, or a train 4,716 miles long. That’s a lot of Bibles!
But just because we have so many Bibles, doesn’t mean we know what they say. You’ve probably got several of them at home just collecting dust. David Nygren once said, “If all the neglected Bibles were dusted off simultaneously, we would have a record dust storm and the sun would be eclipsed for a whole week.”
In 2002, the Barna Research Group conducted a survey of self-identified Christians and here’s what he found about their knowledge of the Bible:
• 48% could not name the four Gospels.
• 52% cannot identify more than two or three of Jesus’ disciples.
• 60% of American Christians can’t name even five of the 10 Commandments.
• 61% of American Christians think the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
George Barna concluded, “Americans revere the Bible, but by and large they don’t know what it says.” Which, I think, makes a lot of us like the drunken guy who was spotted by a police officer looking for something. The drunk was down on his hands and knees and explained in slurred speech to the police officer that he was looking for his wallet. The police officer inquired, “Well, where did you lose it?” The drunk motioned with his hand as he replied, “About half a block that way.” The confused and amused policeman asked, “Well, why are you searching here then?” The drunk replied, “There is no street light down there!”