Jesus said: ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”
‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!’
Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.Matthew 7:21-29
Matthew’s gospel can be split into five great blocks of teaching. The first (chapters 5-7) being the Sermon on the Mount. Today we come to the end of that Sermon.
Our journey through this great moment in Jesus’ teaching ministry has been subtly punctuated, by Matthew, with many references that place Jesus firmly where he should be – at the heart of the age-old sweep of Jewish law and tradition. But, today, there is a real twist.
Up to now we have heard Jesus’ words and seen him pointing us in a new direction. Many centuries of interpretation have been overlaid with human ‘wisdom’. The simple message of faithful and obedient love of God has become confused and obscured by human routines and requirements. Jesus rounds off the Sermon on the Mount by warning us that if we hear his words and then follow a different path through life, well, then, we are just plain stupid! We are just like the man who builds his house on sand; we should not be surprised to see it all fall around us when the rains come.
As Jesus’ first audience was listening to his words, they could have turned their heads and seen Herod’s men working towards the completion of their rebuild of the Temple. This great house of God, they believed, would stand for ever. In fact, it would be destroyed by the Romans just a few years after its completion – just as Jesus predicted.
Jesus is warning us about trying to confine God’s love, power and truth within human boundaries.
We have spent much time outside our man-made churches this year.
How have we used that time?
Have we drawn closer to God?
Or, are we waiting with the bricks and mortar to try and reinforce the false barriers that we so readily erect between us and our loving Creator and Father?
I pray that our prayers and devotion have taken us nearer to, and not further from, the God who loves us all.