A Word to the Wise

Parables of Jesus for the Modern Pilgrim

The lessons of the parables are so practical. Jesus means for us to know the deep things of the Kingdom. It’s amazing how down-to-earth these truths are. I guess that’s the thing about Truth. It has to stand the test of time for all people, in every generation. This one is no different.

Let’s find our text.

Matthew 7:24-27

Luke 6:46-49

Jesus is talking to the masses. Unlike some of the teaching that was given to his closest followers, this parable was part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was teaching broad truths and with it, he shares the meaning.

This parable answers the question, “Who is wise?”

Jesus begins with a story about building a house. There are two ways to go about it. The wise builder takes his time and builds on a firm foundation – the bedrock. If you have ever watched the building process, you know this can’t be rushed. The foundation is the most important part of the building. Builders will take an eternity to meticulously prepare the ground, level it and make sure it is solid. Any other method would be a huge waste of resources.

Why focus so much time on the foundation? A wise builder knows that storms are coming. That’s life. When the rains come and the floods rise, the house stands. Hurricane-force winds can beat against it, but the foundation built on solid ground holds the house securely.

Jesus says this represents the person who not only hears Jesus’ teaching but follows it – puts it into practice. It’s not enough to know the right way to build – you have to actually carry it out.

If you don’t build this way, you are foolish. What does that really mean? The word foolish can be translated as dull or stupid. I think it is interesting how the word stupid has gotten to be such a bad thing. Kids these days are taught that it’s almost akin to swearing. But Jesus uses it here.

You are not evil. You’re not going to hell. You will simply lose all you worked for. That’s stupid.

In the Luke version of this parable, Jesus begins by saying, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Wow. I need this on my mirror as a daily reminder. Why do I do that? I’m being “foolish.” In contrast, wise can be translated as prudent, thoughtful, practically¬†wise, mindful. I like those words much better.

Lessons for the Modern Pilgrim

  • Hearing the wisdom of Jesus is not enough. I have to put it into practice or it means nothing.
  • In order to build on bedrock, you have to clear away the sand. This takes effort. I have to remove the beliefs that don’t match God’s character. I need to haul away the shifting opinions of our culture. I must get to level ground so that my foundation will be unshakable.
  • With a solid foundation, I can look to the future without fear. The storms of life will come. Jesus promises it. But the mindful builder has taken the time the build well. The foundation of Jesus will stand firm.

The wonderful 14th century British nun, Julian of Norwich, wrote,

“First the fall and then there is the recovery of the fall. But both are the mercy of God.”

I believe we all start out on this pilgrimage with a dullness to the things of God. There is no shame in that. As we experience the weather of life, after we lose what we’ve built, we come to look outside our own wisdom to do better on the next build. That is the wisdom of God. That is maturity in the believer – a doer of the Word.

Jesus has the words of life. If we are mindful, thoughtful, and wise to not only hear but follow his ways, we will begin to build a spiritual house that will last through the torrents.