The Sermon on the Mount
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:247–27
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10–13
This is the end of the Sermon on the mount, the first teaching section in Matthew’s Gospel. The sermon on the mount ends with four sets of two things:
- Two gates leading to two paths, one wide and easy, the second narrow and difficult
- Two trees, one with bad fruit, one with good fruit.
- Two people, one who calls Jesus ‘Lord’ and another who does his will.
- Two houses.
Most of the sermon notes and commentaries I have read treat the parable of the two men who built the houses on sand and rock on its own, as stand-alone teaching. I am not saying that what they say is wrong, nor that they are wrong to do this, but there is a context here, Jesus is using these four parables, two paths, good and bad fruit, the two people and how they follow Jesus and the two houses to comment on what he has just said before, what is called the Golden Rule: Whatever you wish that others would do for you, do also to them.
- Treating others the same as you wish to be treated is the way to heaven, but it is not easy, it’s far easier to give in to peer pressure and be like everybody else.
- Treating others the same as you wish to be treated is the fruit that will show in the lives of those who follow Jesus.
- Those who follow Jesus are not those who speak about him but those who do God’s will by treating other people in the same way they would wish to be treated.
The section on the two houses starts with this, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them.” It is what you do that is important here, as in the other three. Whether the words of Jesus referred to here means the Golden Rule or if it refers to the Sermon on the Mount as a whole is something I am not qualified to say, but I strongly suspect it to the teaching as a whole. In any case, the Golden Rule is included in that definition.
The reason that I think the story of the two houses, houses that would lave looked identical—the only difference between them was their foundations, and they are out of sight.
The result of strong foundations is that the house stands firm. Paul talked about standing firm, we need God’s armour in the spiritual battle against the devil, against cosmic powers over this present darkness and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. We cannot fight this fight on our own, we need God’s armour to stand firm.
We need to be totally reliant on God. In this, the passages from Matthew’s Gospel and Paul agree.