Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 7:27 “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds
blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was
the fall of it.”
This warning proves Jesus was serious about what He said in this sermon. If we build our lives on hearing and obeying Jesus, they will stand firm. If built on any other foundation, though, a day will inevitably come, in this world or the next, when a storm will crumble our lives into loss, embarrassment, and disappointment.
Children are not the only ones who build sand castles below the high-tide mark, and then come back later to find their efforts washed away. In every person’s life, high tide is always coming in, one way or another. If not built on Jesus’ words, life’s foundation is eroded over time, and then one huge storm deals the final blow.
In an awful hour, when help is needed most, in the midst of a gale, the baseless building collapses, blown down like a house of cards. The effect is fatal, leaving nothing standing. All the money, planning, and building of a lifetime is wasted.
As a result, the poor sufferers are left shelterless, exposed to the full brunt of a storm’s fury. They have to go find someone whose house is still standing. Unfortunately, they often seek refuge in the house of others who have built on sand, but whose life has not yet collapsed, thereby setting themselves up for another fall later.
Thus ends the Sermon on the Mount. We are left with a tearing sound, “like the crack of a giant oak in the forest” (Robertson). Hear the echo of the crashing house. Don’t repeat its sound in our lives. “When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation” (PR 10:25 NAS).
Matt. 7:28-29a “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the
people were astonished at his doctrine. For he taught them as one
having authority,. . .”
“They listened spell-bound to the end” (Robertson). The hearers, more than surprised at these words of the Galilean carpenter, were overwhelmed, shocked, totally dumbfounded. Christ’s words filled them with a sense of awe and wonder.
Matthew appropriately followed the Sermon on the Mount with directing our attention to Jesus rather than to the message. Everything Christ said was subservient to and dependent on who and what He was. Christianity rises and falls not primarily on a body of teaching, though that is vital, but on the Person who taught us. The Christian faith derives its authority ultimately from who and what Jesus was.
Jesus spoke with authority, with a grandeur in His tone, as one above the common lot, superhuman, more than a man. He taught as one who knew what He was talking about–no ifs, buts, or maybes, no hedging, no avoiding the issues, no politicaleze. He preached as if He were God, possessing in Himself the inherent right to determine right and wrong, and the innate right to be heard and obeyed.
Two thousand years later, Jesus still holds the world spellbound. We cannot see His face, hear the inflection of His voice, or feel the touch of His hand, but even through cold, dry ink on paper, we still feel the sway of His spellbinding authority.
Where does this perceived authority come from? Partly from His power. Heaven confirmed Jesus’ ministry through many mighty miracles. This cannot be the full explanation, though. There have been many miracle workers in history, but they always come and go, rise and shine for a while, and then fade into oblivion.
The ultimate source of Jesus’ perceived authority was His purity. He was sinless. Before and after giving this sermon, Jesus lived it. His deeds gave punch to His words. Without a beautiful life, His teachings would have been arrogant or insane. His words had power because they were personified in His perfect character.
For those who wish to cast off Jesus and the Bible, this continues to be the problem that will not go away. What about that perfect life? Something in our collective human psyche says mankind cannot do without Jesus’ example. His is the kind of life we all know we all should live. Twenty centuries have passed, and yet people still have to grapple with, and come to terms with, His one, solitary life.
Consistency ran through Jesus like a straight steel thread, from deeds to words to thoughts to nature. His authority came from this impeccable credibility. He was truth in His being, truth in His thinking, truth in His speaking, and truth in His breathing, living, moving, and acting. He embodied the truth He taught.
His perfect deeds, eloquent words, and remarkable thoughts pointed to, and gave evidence of, a nature divine and perfect in every way. When we closely examine His ways, words, and concepts, we begin to realize He reached down into an inner reservoir which runs much deeper than any source we know about within us.
As we ponder the melody of His deeds, the harmony of His words, and the chorus of His thoughts, the music draws us to realize His kind of life can be lived only by one higher than us. He had something in His nature we don’t have in ours.
As this realization dawns on people, they are forced from their comfort zone of contemplation and driven to a crisis of decision. As we listen to His words, we hear the accent of another world beyond this one. We were made to live forever, and His words hit the eternal in us. Somehow we instinctively know musing on Jesus is not enough. We must choose for or against Him. Neutrality is not an option. Josh McDowell is correct, we are forced to say Jesus is either Lord, liar, or lunatic.
Not even astonishment and awe are enough of a response. Beware the terrible danger of being filled with amazement, yet lost. Admiration does not save.
Following Jesus requires surrender and obedience. As God in human flesh, He gave Himself for us, and thus has every right to say, “Give yourself to Me.” Be not only astonished. Receive Him, accept His teachings, and live them out in life.
He is the treasure hid in a field, the pearl of great price, (MT 13:44-46), the one possession worth giving up gladly, “for joy,” every other possession to have. We should be willing to run as fast as we can to give up everything for this everlasting life, for purpose, for forgiveness, for peace. As we yield ourselves to Him, we lose nothing of value, and instead find all we are actually seeking in other things.
Once yielded to Him, we are blessed by His granting to us a portion of His authority, thereby giving us power to live a fulfilled life. He conveyed authority to His disciples before sending them out (MT 10:1), and under His authority we go forward to fulfill His Great Commission (MT 18:28), to give our lives to something worth living and dying for. Our Master spoke and lived with a divine, sanctified audacity. “An audacious Christ should have an audacious Church” (Parker).
If you have never yielded to Christ, I urge you to leave your rebellion behind. He commands all men everywhere to repent. To deny Him is to be disobedient.
If we have received Christ, but our lives are downcast and defeated, pray for a fresh outpouring of His authority on us. His desire for His children is victory.