Midweek Lenten Worship
March 17, 2021
“Build On The Rock”
Rev. John R. Larson
Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
Lois Kreye was wearing a jacket that was just gorgeous two Sunday’s ago. I asked her when she got it. 30 years ago. 30 years!! And it still fits!! I’m not so lucky. It has aged well. She has aged well. It was made from some very good material. It seems that some things are appropriate no matter how many years ago they came to us.
The teaching of the wise and foolish builders from Matthew 7 is one of those things that has aged well and is still a classic. 2 men build houses – one builds on rock and then the storms hit. Wind, rain, floods – everything that tests how well the building is built comes. And it stands!! It doesn’t collapse. Jesus says of this, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24) But the other is in a hurry and builds his house on sand. How foolish. The same things that happened to the other builder happen to him. “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house.” And it fell. There was a great crash. Jesus says of this, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house upon sand.” (Matthew 7:26)
This old story is a pointed one. It is asking the hearer, “Which one are you? Are you the foolish one or the wise one? Do you build a life that will last or is it destined to fall?”
At Ascension I lead chapel for our Preschool every month and I get to lead the kids in singing the same songs I have sung my whole life. “Jesus loves me this I know.” “This little gospel light of mine.” “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart” And this one, “The wise man built his house upon the rock…” The kids really like it when we sing, “The foolish man built his house upon the sand, and the rains came a tumbling down. The rain came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the sand went “SPLASH.” We try to find out who can hold that last note the longest and the loudest!!
It’s a classic song – it’s been around longer than Lois Kreye’s jacket and its message is perfect for Lent.
It’s an either/or scenario, right? Either you are wise or you are foolish. Either you listen to His word and apply it, or you don’t. Jesus gives a bunch of either/or’s, in His teaching at other parts in His teaching.
Here are some:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, that that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23)
One more. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life. (I John 5:11-12)
Narrow gate or broad road. Acknowledging Jesus or denying Him. The things of God or the things of men. He who has the Son has life and he who does not have the Son does not have life. Either/or. And in our account – one is building on rock or they are building on sand.
Do what is wise. I read this illustration in preparation for this sermon: So imagine you get really sick, I mean, sick to where your life is at stake. Your physician prescribes a treatment that includes a protocol of specific meds, surgery and diet. You respect your doctor. She is a respected authority on treating your illness. You may ask for a second opinion, but wisdom would dictate that you follow her prescription. You’ll take those pills, have that surgery and follow that diet, just as she says. It would be foolish to ignore her and likely just as foolish to follow your own opinion.
Do what is wise. Build on Rock. Build on Jesus and His work for your salvation. There is a book, dedicated to wisdom, written in the Bible. It is the book of Proverbs. This is what it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Listen to God’s Word and then apply it. First of all believe that Christ calls for our hearts to be repentant, broken, needy, looking to Him to make us well and healed. Believe that you need Him. Believe that Jesus came to forgive your sins, count you as one of His chosen and that you will live eternally in heaven. Have faith in Jesus. Trust Him. That is the foundation, He is the foundation that won’t be washed away.
Live the Word. In Luke 11 a woman came to Jesus and said, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” Jesus responded to her and said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28)
The foundation of trusting in Jesus and living in His ways isn’t just for you, it is for the many people who have a connection to your life. Paul in I Corinthians says, “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man build on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (I Corinthians 3:10-15)
The words of Jesus about the two builders is a classic. Though first spoken about 2,000 years ago, it still speaks to this day and to our lives. Build on the Rock. For your eternal salvation. For your daily faith. For living life. For a faithful witness to all in your life. Build on the Rock. Build on Jesus and His word. Amen!!
(The theme and some of the words come from the series, “Sermon on the Mount” by Creative Communications for the Parish)