Jesus wants us to listen in a way that reshapes our hearts and inevitably leads to action.
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
This passage sits between Luke’s recount of one of Jesus’ sermons and the story of a Roman soldier’s request to heal a much-loved servant.
No doubt there were many people crowded around Jesus listening to his words, but rather than indulging the crowd with a “feel good” conclusion, Jesus warns his listeners that he desires a special kind of listening. A kind of listening that goes beyond “oh that’s nice”, to one that involves reshaping our hearts and lives, inevitably leading to action.
In future passages, Luke will give us examples of true listeners, and doers, who come from unlikely backgrounds. We would expect the Israelites, with all of their covenant history, to be the careful listeners and doers. Instead, we will next see a pagan Roman Solider who really listens to God.
Jesus warns the crowd that they are all building a house and that a flood is coming. It is likely from this passage that the two houses might look the same on the outside, but they will look very different after the flood comes. One house will stand, and one house will be utterly destroyed. The difference will be the foundation. What foundation really lasts? The answer, of course, is Jesus himself.
In this passage, Jesus values faith placed in him that is put into practice. For some of us, this could challenge our vast knowledge about God by questioning how much of it we are putting into practice. In reading the prior verses in Chapter 6, it would be fair to argue that loving our enemies, being slow to judge others, and being prepared to face ridicule for our faith, would be good starting points when putting our faith into action.
Head: Do I believe a flood is coming? What does this passage teach us about the human heart and how we can deceive ourselves?
Heart: What might be other “foundations” that I am building my life on? (money, career, popularity). In what ways could God simply be a decoration in my house rather than the foundation it is built on?
Hands: Loving our enemies – if you are an adult, is there someone (or a group) where you can offer to buy coffees or lunch as a way of showing love? If you are not an adult, is there someone you can hang out with over a lunch break who you wouldn’t normally speak to?
Being slow to judge – is there a conversation, meeting, event today where I can give someone the benefit of the doubt, and instead take time to pray for them now?
Facing ridicule – is there an opportunity today to have courage and talk about going to church yesterday? Can I pray about this now? (note – assuming this goes out on a Monday morning?)
Dear Father, thank-you for the true and firm foundation you have given me in Jesus. Thank-you for his death and resurrection so that I can stand firm in the coming flood. Please help me today to really listen to you and to put this faith into practice.
A song to listen to: This Life I Live
Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina