Summary: This is Jesus' altar call. What kind of disciple are you?
The Solid Rock
How many of us have heard the children sing “The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock at Vacation Bible School? And how many of us have sung the hymn “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” in church? Surely these words from the Sermon on the Mount are well known in the church community.
These words of Jesus come at the end of the sermon and act to sum up all that He has taught. It also acts in a way similar to what we today call the “altar call”. These words are meant for the listener to decide what they are going to do with the words of Jesus. We saw earlier in our study that Jesus placed His words on par with those of what we call the Old Testament. As Jesus said that every jot and tittle of Scripture must be fulfilled, Jesus would be making the same claim for His own words. The words that Jesus spoke are the very words of God Himself.
Jesus uses an illustration here from the geography of the nearby wilderness to emphasize the importance of giving proper weight to his teaching. The wilderness is a tortured landscape with deep winding gullies, high heat, and normally very, very dry. These gullies extended for miles. Most of the time, they would be bone dry. But still, water could be found underneath the dry stream bed, or even a few pools at the surface for short periods of time. This was not a place for the faint of heart to live. Only a few wandering shepherds, religious zealots, and thieves escaping the law would try to live there. Yet, this is the place where God sustained the Children of Israel for forty years on manna. At times he provided water by having Moses strike a rock.
One of the characteristics of the wilderness was that when it did rain, it rained very hard. This rain might fall miles away. Yet, a few miles away, it remained sunny, hot, and dry. Without warning, a rushing sound would be heard, followed by a rushing flood of water. This flash flood would wash away anything that wasn't firmly fixed. Many a unprepared person has been swept away in such matter.
Although there is no direct reference here, an active imagination might go back to the account of the flood in the Book of Genesis. Jesus in another place did make the connection between the last times and the flood, as did the Apostle Peter. It was business as usual in that day, people were buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, oblivious to the danger that was about to rush upon them. It was a sunny day in the wilderness of sin. Then the flood came and washed them away. Only Noah and His family, warned by God of the real danger prepared themselves by following God’s command to build a large boat. Actually, the word we translate “ark” from the Hebrew, is similar to the word for “coffin” or “box”. So in a sense, Noah escaped death in a coffin. In a similar way, the Christian is delivered by the death of Jesus. This same word “ark” is used for the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament in which the blood of animals was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat. God’s wrath was propitiated from the People of Israel through a sacrificial death of an animal which pointed forward to the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The decision which Jesus is forcing here is based upon the Hebrew two way theology. There is no middle ground. One or the other outcome awaits all people, whether salvation or the eternal destruction which will sweep away all who fail to heed Jesus’ words and put them into practice. Ignorance is no excuse. It is true that Jesus only addresses two groups of people, those who have heard His words and put them into practice and those who heard them and did not. But Jesus could only address the people who had contact with His words. This does not mean that those who have not heard are off the hook as they are totally unprepared for what will happen at the Last Judgment. According to Romans and the Westminster Confession of Faith, all people have knowledge of the true God which they willfully suppress. God has clearly revealed Himself in nature as well as in the conscience. In this sense, they have heard the word of God and have refused it and fall into the group who have heard and ignored the Word of God. This natural knowledge is enough to condemn, though without the special revelation of Jesus is unable to save. This is why it is so important to evangelize, that by this God-appointed means, some might be awakened to faith.