On the Rock | Matthew 7:24-29

Week 17 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

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 7:24-27)

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.  (Matthew 7:28-29)

OPENING THOUGHT

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is a guidebook for being a citizen of God’s kingdom. In chapter five, Jesus covered the overall characteristics of a Christ follower, their purpose on earth, and how they relate to the Old Testament laws and commandments. In chapter six, He addressed godly actions that are not so godly when done out of pride. He also beckoned us to store our treasure in heaven where it will be eternally secure so that we might be able to live without anxiety here.

Christ opened chapter seven with a warning against hypocritical judgments against others, encouraging us to love others how God has loved us. He then issued a series of warnings to finish the sermon. First, He warned against following the easy path to the broad gate of destruction, calling us to enter by the narrow gate into life. Second, He warned against being deceived by false prophets who appear to be Christ’s followers but are not. Third, He warned against self-deception, saying that many who call Christ Lord will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

To conclude the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us a fourth and final warning. Jesus tells us that if we hear and obey His words we will be like a wise man who built his house on a solid rock foundation, but if we hear and do not obey His words, we will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It is important to note that Jesus is speaking of those who have heard His words, but some will obey and other will not. The question that we must therefore ask at the end of this sermon is whether we will choose to obey Christ’s words or not.

Read verses 24-27 and discuss the following.

  1. In Jesus’ analogy, what do the two builders have in common and where do they differ from one another? Under what conditions will their differences be revealed?
  2. How do Luke 6:46-49 and James 1:21-27 help to further understand the importance of obedience when following Christ?

Read verses 28-29 and discuss the following.

  1. How did Jesus’ authority compare to the scribes?
  2. Why is astonishment and amazement not a sufficient response?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Apply Jesus’ warning to how you hear His words in the Scriptures. In what ways do you obey the Bible, not just read it?
  • Pray. Ask God for the strength to obey His commands.

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished one of his disciples said to him, “Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

Luke 11:1

Prayer does not come naturally.

We are not born knowing how to come to God in prayer.

It is a practice of nurture, not nature.

Otherwise, why would Jesus’ disciples ask Him to teach them how to pray?

Each of the twelve grew up in a Jewish society, learning the specific prayers to be made at specific times. They must have assumed that they had a sufficient understanding of prayer.

But Jesus shattered those assumptions.

For Jesus, prayer was not a thing of secondary importance. It was foundational to His ministry, serving as a bedrock for all that He did. They witnessed miracle after miracle. Lepers were cleansed. Paralytics were healed. Even the dead were raised to life. They also heard the words of incalculable wisdom that flowed from His mouth, words which caused their hearts to burn within them (Luke 24:32), words of eternal life (John 6:68).

But at the core of it all was Jesus’ prayer to the Father.

Though crowds continuously gathered to hear His words and be healed, Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray (Luke 5:16).” This means that He would regularly pull away from doing His ministry in order to engage in a more crucial ministry: praying to the Father. And before choosing the twelve disciples, Jesus “went to the mountain to pray, and all night continued in prayer to God (Luke 6:12).” The importance of the decision required much time in prayer. Further, we are told that the Transfiguration occurred “as he was praying (Luke 9:29)”.

Slowly, it seems that the disciples began to realize the connection between Jesus’ ministry of teaching and healing and His ministry of prayer. In short, Jesus’ prayers accomplished things. He spoke to His Father, and the Father responded. For Jesus, prayer was not a passive add-on; rather, it was the strength by which He did His work.

No wonder the disciples asked this question of Him.

After witnessing Him in a normal time of prayer, one of them resolves to learn how to pray like Jesus. This ought to be the greatest thought we have on prayer: Lord, teach me to pray!

In an effort to gain a greater understanding of prayer and, ultimately, to pray like Christ, I will be meditating and expositing upon important Scriptures concerning prayer. Because Jesus answered His disciple’s question with the Lord’s Prayer, we will begin with it as our model prayer from Christ Himself. Then we will search the Word for further glimpses of how we ought to pray like Jesus.

It is interesting to note that other than the Lord’s Prayer, there are few portions of Scripture that speak heavily and directly upon the subject; this does not mean, however, that prayer is undiscussed in the Bible.

It is, in fact, just the opposite.

Prayer is peppered throughout the entirety of the Scriptures.

It is simply there, ungirding everything else that the Word expounds upon, providing the support from which discipleship, evangelism, preaching, fellowship, and service spring forth.

Unfortunately, because the foundation goes largely unseen, it is also the easiest to fall into neglect. May we, therefore, determine in ourselves that we will not let the foundation go unnoticed and disregarded, and instead continuously pray for the Lord to teach us how to pray.


Throughout this week meditate upon Luke 11:1, particularly the disciples’ desire to learn to pray like Jesus.

Pray, then, for the Father to teach us to pray like Christ.


 

The Ascension | Dec 29

While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up to heaven. (Luke 24:51 ESV)

Especially for the disciples, Jesus’ life on earth must have been quite a bumpy ride. At Jesus’ call to follow Him, each left his previous way of living to follow Jesus around the country side, hoping that He was the promised Messiah. Christ’ crucifixion seemed like a total defeat since even the Messianic King could not reign from the dead. The resurrection then was a miracle of the highest order and led to a renewed belief that Jesus is the Serpent-Crusher. But after being with them awhile longer, Jesus ascended into heaven, promising them that He would one day return.

When compared to the cross and resurrection, Jesus’ ascension is often overlooked; however, great theological significance lies therein. In John 14, Jesus tells us much about life after His ascension. Having told His disciples that He would be leaving, He proceeds to tell them that He is going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house (John 14:2-3). Jesus’ imagery would have recalled in the disciples’ minds a fiancé leaving to prepare his home for his bride-to-be and promising to return for her when he finished.

Obviously the imagery only goes so far. For example, it would be ridiculous for us to conclude that Jesus has yet to return because He isn’t finished preparing heaven yet. Instead, Jesus is assuring us, as His bride, that He will return to us and that by His ascension to heaven He prepared the way for us also to be with the Father for eternity.


Read Luke 12:13-21, and consider whether you live in light of Christ’s eternal provision or for the hope of earthly treasure.


 

How Should We Read Genealogies in the Bible?

As I approach Luke 3 for preaching this week, I find myself staring down upon one of the dreaded begats found throughout the Bible. As a pastor, I am uncertain if I am allowed to say this, but the genealogies in the Bible can be pretty boring. Often, they are simply scattered throughout certain places, yet occasionally, we find ourselves reading texts like the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles and end up wanting to curl into a little ball out of boredom.

Though I believe that it is fine to admit our lack of enthusiasm for particular parts of Scripture, we must do so with 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in mind. Therein, the apostle Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” These verses remind us that genealogies are a piece of Scripture and, therefore, are just as Spirit-inspired as any other text from the Bible. But notice that Paul does not stop at inspiration, he also claims that all Scripture is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training. Once more, genealogies are not exempt from this statement. The genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3 is just as much God-breathed Scripture as, for example, the Christ hymn of Colossians.

Of course, it is one thing to claim that genealogies are profitable for teaching and such, but it is another entirely trying to figure out how to profit from them. I aim, therefore, not to leave you simply with the truth that genealogies are important; rather, I hope to give some guidance for understanding their presence in Scripture and how to study them well.

1. They Remind Us of the Bible’s Historicity

The Bible is not a book of ancient myths and folk tales, as some may read it; instead, we believe that the Scriptures are completely accurate portrayals of history. Reading the Bible’s genealogies can help remind us of the Bible’s historicity. We may find it boring to read about some guy named Maath or Mahalaleel, but in seeing their names, we should remember that they were living, breathing people that walked this earth.

2. They Show That God Keeps His Promises

We are told repeatedly throughout the Bible that the promises of God are true, yet sometimes we have difficulty seeing them as such. Often in the Scriptures, God’s promises are not fulfilled within one generation. Look at Abraham, for example. Yes, God did accomplish the promise of giving him a son within his life; however, he died having never seen the great multitude that came from him nor did he ever possess the land promised to him. These do not make the promises of God untrue; rather, God fulfilled them over the course of many generations. Genealogies can aid us in understanding that God is faithful, even if we do not see some workings in our lifetime.

3. They Reflect the Nature of Life

This one is a little bit Ecclesiastes-esque, but hear me out. Viewing a list of generations should remind us of the brevity of life. Even though some men in Genesis lived for over nine hundred years, the fact is that all of them are now dead. Regardless of our age, power, wealth, or status, each of us will face the same end. Very, very few of us will ever be remembered in a substantial way. Some of us might be fortunate enough to have our name in a list for future generations. Most of us, however, will pass through this life, leaving behind little or nothing to be remembered.

Of course, this does not have to be terribly depressing. As followers of Christ, we do not live life for our own glory or legacy; instead, we are more interested in furthering the fame of Jesus. Countless Christians have died and been forgotten on earth, but because of their work for the kingdom of God, their lives were not wasted or without meaning. Thus, genealogies can also be a reminder for us to disciple others, so that the glory of Christ might be known throughout each generation.

4. They Give Us a Bird’s Eye View of Grace

Genealogies also provide for us a large lens for viewing the grace of God. For example, Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew lists people like Ruth and Rahab. Ruth was foreigner from the pagan Moabites, and Rahab was a prostitute. Yet through the grace of God, both of these women became a part of the lineage of Jesus! Our view of grace, however, is not limited to individuals. Genealogies also show the breadth of God’s common grace upon humanity. Even through generations of sin, we might find times when God would be completely justifiable in issuing another flood-level wipeout; however, generation after generation, we find our God patiently bearing with us.

5. They Are Ultimately Pointing to Jesus

This is the most important aspect to understand regarding genealogies. In listing the generations of people, we see the storyline of the Bible unfold. From Adam to Joseph, God promised a savior to the humanity. After the Fall, God told Adam that this savior would be the offspring of woman. Abraham was promised that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his offspring. God, further, declared that David’s offspring would sit upon the throne forever. Jesus is the fulfillment of all of these. The end and goal of the entire Bible, really of all of history, is Jesus, and genealogies display God’s faithfulness is sending Christ.

The End of the Matter

With that said, one question still stands: will this make genealogies any less boring to read? If we are honest, maybe not, but perhaps, this will help you to see the depth of meaning and grace that can be found within them.