We are now only a few weeks away from concluding our sermon series on “The Parables of Jesus”. In the remaining messages we will discuss parables relating to the cost of discipleship, effective prayer, and the believer’s responsibility. Each of these are important aspects of the Christian or the prospective Christian experience. However, this morning we will focus upon the critical nature of building one’s life on a strong and sturdy foundation.
“The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders” is one of the more popular stories that Jesus told. It is recorded in both Matthew and Luke. In Matthew, this parable comes at the conclusion of Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”. It neatly ties together all of the various lessons that He taught in that message. Both gospels indicate that Jesus is speaking to a large audience of people when He delivers this powerful illustration. The details in the parable are very similar in both renditions.
While the meaning of this parable is rather apparent, it has been interpreted in a couple of different ways. Both understandings are Scripturally accurate and consistent. We will consider these 2 interpretations this morning during our discussion.
I. THE STORMS OF LIFE - Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49
The story begins with a description of a wise builder who first lays a strong, solid foundation and then constructs his house upon it. Meanwhile a second man - the foolish builder - builds his house upon the sand, choosing not to lay any foundation at all. After they finish their work, severe storms develop including heavy rain, flooding, and fierce wind. Because of its sure foundation, the wise builder’s house successfully withstands the stormy weather. Unfortunately, the foolish builder’s house lacks any firm base or grounding, and therefore falls and is completely destroyed as a result of the storm.
“The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders” compares an actual construction project with the building of one’s life. It stresses the importance of having a strong foundation. The foundation, as Jesus explains, consists of both hearing and acting upon the Lord’s teachings. When a person listens to and then obeys His commands, a sturdy foundation is laid in their life upon which they can build. In contrast, if a person hears but disregards Jesus’ commands their foundation will be non-existent or shaky at best.
The construction of the house itself represents a person’s thoughts, words, and deeds. These things must be supported by and anchored upon the teachings of the Bible. The stormy winds, rains, and floods represent the various trials and pressures that test us in this life. Those who build their lives upon Jesus and the things that He taught will successfully endure and overcome. But without Him as their strong foundation, a person’s life with inevitably succumb to the sinful influences and forces of this fallen world.
II. THE STORMS OF JUDGMENT - 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
While the most common interpretation of this parable deals with the trials of this present life, it can also be understood from an alternative point of view. Not only does the foundation of Jesus Christ provide believers with a stable basis upon which to build their lives now, but its presence or lack thereof is also the single determining factor during the judgment. In other words, a person’s eternal destiny is dependent upon their foundation…
Paul elaborates on this more fully in his first letter to the Corinthian church. Like the parable, He also highlights the importance of having a solid foundation. Paul explains that there is only one foundation which will endure God’s judgment - namely, Jesus Christ. Throughout their lives, Christians metaphorically build upon Him with various materials such as gold, silver, gems, wood, hay, and straw. One day the fire of God will test the quality of each person’s work. Those whose works remain will be rewarded, but - notably - even if all is burned up that person shall still be saved solely because of the existence of the foundation in their lives.
This perspective can also be applied to “The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builder”. Taking this approach, the winds and rains represent the judgment of God. Those who’ve repented of their sins and subsequently built their lives upon a faithful, dependent commitment to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will stand on Judgment Day. Sadly, the millions who have rejected Jesus will collapse in light of God’s judgment, and their fall will be great.
III. SAVED TO BUILD
This parable illustrates that, after the foundation has been laid, a house should be built upon it. Clearly the foundation is the most important part, but it isn’t the only part. A bare slab without any building on it at all will not provide any shelter from the storm. Likewise, a shabby or poorly built shack will leak rain drops and allow the cold windy drafts to blow through. The Bible teaches Christians to practice righteousness, to walk in a worthy manner, to live in obedience to the Lord, and to lovingly and sacrificially serve others. By doing these things, they will build a house that will protect them from the tumultuous weather of life.
Even the grandest and most formidable structure will fall without a firm foundation. Likewise, a person’s most gracious and compassionate deeds are useless apart from a saving faith in Jesus Christ. That said, foundations are also laid to be built upon, and those who have been born again are called to and expected to build something. Far too many believers never build much of anything in their lives or they build shoddy structures that are unacceptable to God. But Jesus has set a higher standard, and is lovingly calling us to build lives of significance that are pleasing to Him. To put it simply, people are not saved by their good works but rather are saved to do good works. Christians have been saved to build...
“The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders” stresses the importance of having a strong foundation. This foundation can be understood as either the teachings of Jesus, upon which we should build our lives, or the person of Jesus, upon which our salvation rests. Perhaps to fully understand this story one must consider both meanings… the truth is, Jesus and His teachings are inseparable.
If you are relying on anything or anyone else but Jesus to get you into Heaven, you’re building on the sand. Salvation only comes through Jesus Christ. He is the one strong and sure foundation of life. Everything else will soon collapse. Will you repent of your sins, turn to Him, and receive forgiveness today?
If you’ve already accepted Jesus as your Savior, can I challenge you to reflect upon the manner of your Christian life? The foundation has been laid, but what type of house are you building on it? Is it pleasing and acceptable to God? Will it protect you through the turbulent storms of life?