Ears to Hear – Parable Reflections part 1

Yesterday I preached on the two builders parable that Jesus used to finish up the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) or the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6).  It struck me that there are some helpful points for preachers in that story.  I’m not going to write about how to preach the parable, but lessons from the parable that may be applicable to us.  In fact, over the next few weeks I’ll be preaching through several of Jesus’ parables and so may try to offer some points for preachers in light of each parable.

The parable is very simple.  Two men, two houses, potentially identical in every visible respect, but different in one very significant way: the foundation.  The first man (Luke 6:48) dug down until he got to rock upon which he made the foundation.  The second man just built his house on top of the ground (Luke 6:49).  I have absolutely no building experience, and yet I know that the second man was crazy to build the way he did.  I have been living for years, and yet I do the “crazy option” with alarming regularity.

Here are a few things for us to ponder:

1. What was the point? Just like the Sunday School song, we can easily miss the point of a very easy passage to understand.  Jesus is not pointing to himself as the rock on which we must build our lives.  That may be true truth, but it is not the truth of this passage.  The point of the story is that the wise builder is the one who hears Jesus and does what he hears. Is there an area of obedience that is missing in your life right now?

2. Jesus did not say “if” but “when” … when the flood comes, when the stream bursts against the house.  We can easily fall into a modified prosperity misunderstanding, just like the Sunday School song: the blessings will come down as the prayers go up! Nice, but not always true.  Jesus said “when.”  Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble.  As preachers we need to prepare people for the real stuff of life, and we need to live our lives with awareness that trouble will hit us too.  Will we stand firm, or will we stand in a pile of rubble when trouble hits?  That depends, according to Jesus, on our doing what he teaches.

Tomorrow I will complete the list with two more reflections.

8 thoughts on “Ears to Hear – Parable Reflections part 1

  1. But surely the flood is a picture of judgement, as it is in the rest of the Bible? The point of the parable is that the one who hears and obeys Jesus’s words will stand in the judgement.

    • Thanks Peter for your comment. Certainly in Matthew it seems that there is a judgment related parable at the end of each of the five speeches. But in Luke this is not so consistent. I decided to go with Bock on Luke 6 and see the lack of “decisive eschatological imagery” in the section as a key indicator that the flood here could be seen as life’s trials in a more general sense.

  2. Never really been happy with that verse of the SS song. It seems to short-circuit the parable, and short-circuits fail to drive. You need that ‘causal link’ of ‘doing’ to properly relate to the risin Lord, otherwise you end up seeming to know and not really knowing. A bit like going to the back of the book to find the answer to a problem without working through it. ‘If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”
    Thank you, Peter.

    • Thanks Terry – I agree that it is a short-circuit, and perhaps even a storm of theological confusion or something similar. Shame really, because the song works really well up to that point!

      • I have consulted two different children’s chorus books, one dated 1986 and the other dated 1976. Each has only two verses, based on the NT text – no additional verse/s. So what appears to be the original version supports your comments.

  3. Thanks, Peter. I enjoyed your illustration, and your transparency and HUMILITY in presenting it. Is it possible to receive your teachings by e-mail on a regular basis?

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