Wise Men Build on Rock: Embracing Jesus’ Teaching

Experience God's presence by building a house on His rockShe and I couldn’t sing the song without adding hand motions. Side-by-side in the pew we sang “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock,” pounding one fist into the other palm. The stranger and I laughed over this shared childhood memory.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
Matthew 7:24-25

Like the wise man, I want a house solidly grounded in biblical morals. I visualize a firmly constructed concrete foundation, ensuring stability against any storm. The imagery aptly represents the lesson: a house that stands firm when the rains come down and floods rise. (My fingers tingle with desire to act out the downpour.)

Jesus’ listeners knew the dangers of flash floods. Heavy rains in the arid land caused surging waters that swept away poorly grounded homes. Since they didn’t have concrete basements or footings, only houses built on rock remained. Those built on sand faced complete collapse. Jesus used a vivid life experience for the lesson.

But be doers of the word, and not merely hears who deceive themselves. James 1:22Jesus says, hear my words and act on them. We’ve learned through study that God’s kingdom standards are challenging: turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, love your enemy. Jesus warns that ignoring His teaching leads to devastation. We can’t pick and choose. We can’t deem some too difficult or impractical for modern society. We have heard Jesus words; ignorance is no excuse.

One take-away is that storms reveal one’s faith.

Practicing principles from Jesus’ sermon builds a life that withstands anything.

But as students of scripture, we don’t isolate the story but note the verses that lead up to this parable. We discover that Jesus tells the parable to exemplify God’s judgment: the narrow road leads to life and the broad road leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Hence, the foolish man who hears but ignores Jesus’ words pays an eternal price.

But there’s more. An historical connection adds another layer of understanding.

We all know the literal meaning of rock, but in the Old Testament, rock often symbolizes refuge, stability, strength, the Mighty God. Jews sometimes associated rock with the mountain of God, Mount Sinai, where God met with their ancestors.

God speaks to Moses from a burning bush on Mount Sinai (Exodus 3:1-4) and issues the Ten Commandments here (Exodus 19-20). God shows Moses a portion of His glory (Exodus 33:14-23) from a crevice on Mount Sinai. Elijah runs here when Jezebel wants him dead and he wants a meeting with God (1 Kings 19:1-8). Elijah expects to find God on this rock.

Israelites sought the rock to experience God’s presence.

The rock is the place where heaven touches earth.

Jesus tells us that practicing His teaching secures us on the rock, the place where heaven meets earth. By embracing Jesus’ ways, we build lives in this heaven-on-earth place and enjoy God’s constant presence.

The gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life. Matthew 7:14So, building a life undergirded by biblical ethics is incomplete without God. The wise person takes up residence on God’s mountain. God isn’t an add-on, relegated to an hour or two on Sunday. He meets us in daily quiet time but doesn’t want to be stored away when the meditation is over. God wants all of us. The person who withstands the storm dwells with God all day, every day.

The Apostle Paul refers to this as Christ in me. When we accept Jesus as Lord we become united with Christ, intertwined, inseparable, joined at the heart, moving as one (Romans 6:4-8). By living in such close quarters, we become progressively Christ-like. The Spirit aligns our thoughts and actions with the challenging Sermon on the Mount teachings. The Bible calls this sanctification – the ongoing process of transformation. We stand with God and withstand any storm, even judgment.

Your turn:

How do we adapt our house-on-the-rock imagery to incorporate God’s constant presence in us?

#seedsofscripture #readthebiblebetter #biblestudy #studyscripture #sermononthemount #houseontherock #wisemanbuildshishouseontherock #Christinme #transformed #betransformed #transformedlife #sanctified #sanctification


  1. J.D. Wininger on June 22, 2024 at 8:24 PM

    I call it, “Riding for the Brand” my friend, and I endeavor to show Him in all that I do. I make it a point to include Him, through prayer, in every ranch decision and big decision in my life. Should I for every decision? Yes. We’re all works in progress. There’s a reason though, why the Cross comes first in the Cross-Dubya (pronounced dub-yah, the way Texas say the letter “w”) brand.

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