25 August 2016Matthew 7:24-27
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.” (vv. 24-25)
Psalm: Psalm 141:1-5
This short parable is often regarded as a children's story: there are lively songs relating to it and pictures to be coloured, it is all fun and action! However, it is really a very grown-up story about passive listening and active faith. Jesus was making the point that it simply is not enough to listen to what is right, that listening must be translated into faith!
Weather conditions in Palestine can change dramatically quickly and what has been a dried-up riverbed can become a raging torrent in a short period of time; similarly, what has been a calm sea can be struck by a violent storm (Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus took a natural phenomenon (of which his listeners would have been well aware) and used it to make a profound point about the need for a firm foundation in the spiritual life.
There is a significant number of places in the Bible where the connection is made between listening and observing (doing) what has been said. Jesus might well have had words from Deuteronomy in mind as he spoke to the crowd: "Assemble the people … so that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God and to observe diligently all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 31:12). He had, after all, come to fulfil the law, not to destroy it. Later, James, the writer of the epistle, would also make this vital connection when he urged his readers that they should "be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves" (James 1:22).
The Gospel of Matthew's description of the storm, with the rain pouring down, the river waters rising and the wind howling, is a vivid picture of the often tempestuous nature of life. Jesus warned those around him that, without proper foundations, they were in danger of being swept away. Conversely, those with good foundations can withstand that storm.
- Think of a time when you have been profoundly grateful for the strength which a firmly-held conviction has given you. Do you think faith in Jesus is like that? Why?
- Reflect on the connection between knowledge and action. What are the areas of your life where you might need to link the two more closely?