wise or foolish? Matthew 7:24-27

At the end of the sermon that Jesus preached on a hill, he spoke of a wise man and a foolish man. They both built houses; the houses both experienced the same storm. One house stayed up, but the other fell down. Our Lord Jesus was not giving advice to engineers.

Jesus was talking about life; to build a ‘house’ in this story is to live a life. He said, “Anyone who hears these words of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who builds his house on the rock.” The words he refers to are the words of the sermon he was just finishing. In it he made it very clear that we are morally bankrupt (“Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you in no way will enter the kingdom of heaven”). We cannot fulfil the laws requirements because we are sinners who are already condemned. We need a Saviour to do everything for us. We need rescuing from ourselves. Jesus alone provides the righteous life we lack; he alone removes sin and guilt because he took the judgment of the condemned in the place of his people.

Jesus had just described the final judgment, when he will be the judge. Those who pleaded their ‘good works’ as reason to be accepted were rejected as evil doers, as people Jesus did not know.

The wise man is the one who trusts Jesus: Jesus’ life and death and resurrection are the sinners’ only hope; he is the rock. The word for rock used here is the same as the word in Matthew 16:18 — “On this rock I will build my church.” The wise man has been made wise unto salvation by God’s word and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit. These alone bring a person, any sort of person, to faith in the Lord Jesus.

If you tell people you trust Jesus and him alone as your hope, it is fairly certain you will get a good deal of mocking. But Jesus says that even if everyone else calls you a fool, He will liken you to a wise person. And He is the one who counts.

As for the foolish man, we are told that “Anyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be likened to a foolish man who builds his house on the sand.”

Do you see the change? (It is not found in many modern versions of the Bible, but it is found in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts.) The change is from Jesus (alone, perhaps) likening one who trusts him to a wise man, to everyone seeing (in the end) the foolishness of someone who has heard the words of Jesus but does not trust him.

May we all give prayerful and careful attention to Jesus Christ as he is shown to us in the Bible. He is the one we must trust.


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