March 25th, 2013: The Thirty-Fifth Day of Lent

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

“When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.’”

~Matthew 7.27~

Christ’s final words in the Sermon on the Mount again make use of storm imagery – torrential rains, unstoppable floods, and destructive winds. The fate of a house built by a foolish person can be easily guessed – it cannot withstand the forces of nature. In this parable, we can interpret this to mean that if one builds a life upon a foundation other than the teaching of Christ, then the integrity (structural in the parable, spiritual in our interpretation) of that person’s life will collapse when the unexpected storm of Judgment Day arrives.

Remember the people who will cry Christ’s name and recite all their great and mighty deeds before Jesus in vs. 21-23? They represent people who built their houses on sand. Another scary thought – such great and mighty deeds as exorcisms, miracles, and prophecies can be built on shoddy, unstable, worthless ground. Christ points to hearing and doing his teaching as the way to enter his Kingdom. No other way will do.

Speaking of judgment always makes us uncomfortable; it should. We should never allow the idea of the fate of our eternal souls before Almighty God to become a warm, fuzzy, impotent thought. However, we can have assurance of salvation, and Christ wants us to have this. This is the reason for this final parable; as much as it speaks of judgment, it also speaks of stability. This is akin to a college professor telling you precisely what will be on the final exam; and not only that, but giving you the best way to study. Armed with this knowledge, you still can fail; but by applying the knowledge, you can rest assured of your place within Christ’s eternal Kingdom.

It’s always helpful to look at the “bookends” of a passage of Scripture, for they shed light on the material in the middle. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes, which show us the realities of the Kingdom of Heaven; after hearing of these realities, we look for them throughout the teaching that follows. Now, this final parable shows us that hearing and obeying Christ’s teaching places us within his Kingdom. Well, where do we begin to look for such teaching? The best place to start is the teaching that immediately precedes this parable – the Sermon on the Mount.

This ends Christ’s teaching. We still will look at a couple of verses that speak to the response of the audience, but this parable is the last thing that Christ says in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a fitting end – the teaching of the Master culminating with a strong call to hear and obey.

Lord Christ, thank you for your teaching which shows the way to eternal life. Thank you for the realities of your Kingdom, which we can seek even now. Thank you for your love which is willing to challenge us out of our complacency, uncomfortable as it is. Amen. 

 

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