The texts for this lesson are Matthew 7:24–27; Luke 6:47–49
- God pours out His steadfast love for me by giving me Jesus, the Rock on which He builds His Church.
- Law: Even though God has provided for all of our spiritual needs through His Holy Word, I prefer to hold on to the lies told by the devil, the world, and my sinful flesh. These lies give me no firm footing in the storms of this life.
- Gospel: In mercy, God continues to speak the Word, which grounds me in Christ, my firm foundation, so that I can receive from Him all that I need for life and salvation.
- In both Matthew and Luke, Jesus’ exhortation to build our houses on the rock comes shortly after His description of a tree and its fruit (Matthew 7:15–20; Luke 6:43–45). Building on His teaching about faith and works, Jesus continues with the practical value of a living faith when suffering comes. The house will endure only if it has the right foundation. If it doesn’t, it has no chance at all.
- Our Lord’s wording in this biblical account can seem challenging to our Lutheran sensibilities. Jesus says, “Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24; see also Luke 6:47–48). It appears as if safety in this world is determined by our own actions: If you do what Jesus says, you’ll be safe, even when things get really bad. If you don’t, your house will be destroyed by the floods and winds of life.
Fortunately, the text itself answers these concerns and makes it clear that our spiritual health and safety are based not on our works but on Christ Himself. Just before the story of the houses and the rock, Jesus talks about the relationship between a tree and the fruit it bears. “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:18; see also Luke 6:43). But what makes a tree good or evil? Luther’s discussion of this text is quite helpful: “As the man is, whether believer or unbeliever, so also is his work—good if it was done in faith, wicked if it was done in unbelief. But the converse is not true, that the work makes the
man either a believer or an unbeliever. As works do not make a man a believer, so also they do not make him righteous. But as faith makes a man a believer and righteous, so faith does good works” (AE 31:361).
This is helpful when we look at our biblical account. The house built on the rock, like the good tree, is stable because it is built on the foundation of faith, which trusts Christ for salvation. When people know they need fear nothing that the world might throw at them, the suffering and pain of life will not be able to drag them down into despair. The good tree will continue to bear good fruit, even though winds and floods rage around it.
Without the grounding that comes through faith in Christ, it is impossible to endure the struggles of life. The bad tree will continue to bear bad fruit, and it may even be uprooted and washed away completely.
Ironically, through another sort of flood, the firm foundation in Christ is first established. Baptism is a blessed flood (see Luther’s Flood Prayer, LSB, pp. 268–69) through which our old Adam drowns and God grants faith in Christ, which builds our house on the Rock.
Christ as Rock is a theme that runs throughout the Scriptures. Studying some of those other texts can expand our understanding of this text. (See, for example, Exodus 17:1–7; Psalm 46; Matthew 16:13–18; and 1 Corinthians 10:4.)