HOUSE ON THE ROCK
Key Verses 6:47,48
I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is 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.
First, "Love your enemies" (27-36). In the previous passage, we studied about the disciples' blessed life; they were poor, because nothing gave them meaning or purpose in the world; these poor people, when they found meaning and purpose, joy and happiness in Jesus, left everything behind and followed him. Jesus encouraged them to live as poor people in the world continually, putting their hope in God and pursuing God all the way; when they hunger and when they weep as poor people, they are truly blessed. Otherwise, if they find happiness and meaning in anything else, it is a warning sign. After this teaching, Jesus now gives them a detailed instruction of how they should conduct themselves as his disciples. Look at verses 28 and 29. Let's read these verses together:
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Jesus commands his disciples to love their enemies. "Love your enemies." Enemies are those who have done wrong and evil to you that when you think about them, your blood surges and you are angry. How can we love them when we are angry with them? We cannot love our enemies with our emotions because we are angry with them. Jesus does not ask us to love them in that way either. Then, how? Here, love Jesus talks about is agape, God's love, not humanistic love or emotional love. Jesus shows us how we can love our enemies, by saying, "Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." With our emotions and feelings, we cannot love them, but we can do what Jesus asks here, maybe, painfully, denying our ill-feelings and emotions against them. Sometimes, we are angry at our enemies; we feel like devouring them and swallowing them up alive in anger, but controlling our anger, we grab their shoulder, and say, "God bless you." Someone has done something wrong against you and as a result, you suffer a lot - that person is your enemy. It is hard to say a good word to him. But controlling your anger, even though it is hard, you say, "I forgive you," because Jesus commands you to do so. Maybe, at that time, your whole body trembles, due to the difficulty of controlling and denying your anger. Surely, it is not easy to love our enemies in this way, but surely, it is not impossible; even though it is really hard, we can do it, maybe, shedding tears due to the pain and sorrow of denying our own emotions and feelings; maybe, holding your fist so tight, you say some good words to your enemies or wish something good for them.
Many people dwell in their anger all the way and do crazy things; or they perish in anger; they are controlled and conquered by their ill-emotions and feelings. But Jesus teaches us, instead of cursing and retaliating, to do something good to our enemies, or say good words to them, wish something good for them, and even pray for them. By doing so, we are not controlled by our ill-feelings and emotions; instead, despite our anger or pains inside, we still do good to them. This is how we can overcome evil by doing good. This is the way Jesus wants us to live our life as his disciples. When we do so, a miracle happens. When we love our enemies despite our ill-emotions and feelings, we come to experience that love for even our enemies grows in us that we come to love them even with our hearts - this is mysterious. By loving our enemies in the way Jesus describes, our inner person is being beautified and sanctified. This is indeed a mysterious miracle. Then, we can really wish good for them and pray for their souls sincerely.
Look at verses 29 through 31. Let's read these verses together:
29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Now the disciples' expression of love for their enemies grows more practical, strong and direct. Before, it was about doing good to them, or blessing them or praying for them, denying our own ill-feelings. But now, it is more direct, practical and personal - someone slaps on your cheek - such a sense of humiliation, but instead of retaliating, you give in; money is concerned, yet you are not so materialistic, instead, you are willing to taste loss in love. In that way, as you practice love, as you struggle to do good to your enemies, bless them and pray for them instead of retaliating, your inner person is being beautified in love and you grow as real men and women of love.
Loving our enemies is not easy; it is painful; with deep pains and sorrows of not expressing our anger to our enemies, we struggle to love our enemies, because this is Jesus' command for us; it is indeed painful. But amazingly, when we obey this command enduring all inner pains, sorrows and anger, we begin to grow as beautiful men and women of love, being able to really love our enemies - shocking the world. Such people are Jesus' disciples. Christianity is full of such an amazing and wonderful story of love - how one woman missionary in India forgave those who killed her husband and her two sons in fire, how a Korean pastor saved from execution and adopted a North Korean communist soldier who had killed his two sons, as his own son. Jesus commands us, "Love your enemies." This is not a suggestion; this is not optional; this is Jesus' command for us. We must obey it whether we feel like doing it or not. When you obey, a miracle happens. Eventually, loving our enemies is for ourselves - our inner person is being beautified.
Look at verses 32 through 34. Jesus says, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full." Loving those who love you and hating those who hate you is what everyone does; as a result, there is no change in human life, and there is no hope in the world. Now, the disciples are to be leaders for them, bringing beautiful influence to the world. How? By loving their enemies. Look at verses 35 and 36. Let's read these verses together:
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Here the expression, "You will be "sons of the Most High,"" means that as people see how you behave, how you even love your enemies, by seeing your good and beautiful behaviors, they come to recognize you as children of God. This is the title all church going people like to talk about. But in most cases, what they talk about is not the reality, but theology. Maybe, theologically, what they say is right, but practically, they are not recognized by people in the world as children of God. Instead, actually, the opposite is true - they give bad influence to the people of the world. Many people refuse to believe in Jesus, because they don't like the way Christians live their life. That's not what Jesus intended; but this is the reality because Christians don't pay attention to Jesus' words and don't obey Jesus' command, 'Love your enemies.' How can we be recognized as sons and daughters of God? By becoming beautiful people in words and actions in our practical life! Then, how? By obeying Jesus' command: 'Love your enemies.' Obey this command, and a miracle will happen to you and you will become a beautiful person.
Jesus says, "You will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." There are many ungrateful people; even though God has given them everything, they do not show any gratitude to Him; instead, in most cases, they live as his enemies, mocking him, and attacking his kingdom. But amazingly, God does not wipe them out; instead, He still takes care of them and provides them with necessary things for them to survive and even flourish, by giving them the rain and sunlight. That's God's character. And the disciples of Jesus do the same thing by loving their enemies, being merciful to their enemies; like the Father, like the son. When you obey Jesus' command, 'Love your enemies,' you become beautiful people, and people come to recognize you as real children of God.
Second, "But first take the plank out of your eye" (37-42). Look at verses 37 and 38. Let's read these verses together:
37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
"Do not judge; do not condemn." Instead, "Forgive; give." The reason why you judge people is because they have done something terrible; just think about your enemy; just think about some bullies who bothered you in your middle school or high school; you see their wrongdoings and in your eyes, they are blameworthy; you have a reason to judge them and condemn them as terrible sinners. But Jesus says, "Do not judge." "Do not condemn." It means that even though you see others doing something wrong, don't judge them quickly. What Jesus suggests is that, when you see people doing terrible things, or even they become your enemies, bothering you and insulting you and pushing you to the corner at work, at school, or at home, instead of judging them and condemning them quickly based on their acts, you try to think that there may be some reason for them to do so such as they are stressed out by the burden of the finals, or of job search, or they have some terrible relationship problem with their spouse at home, or their business does not go well and thereby, they are in terrible financial jeopardy. Instead of judging them quickly based on their outward appearance, you try to see things from their point of view - there may be a reason, or they may have an excuse. In this way, about others' sins, character flaws and mistakes, you use a generous measure, giving them room for excuse. Your sheep fails over and over in their fight against sin, and each time, they come up with a lame excuse, yet you accept their excuse and go on continually, giving them another chance. You are generous to them. Jesus commands us, "Forgive." When you have this kind of generous measure toward others, God will deal with you in the same way, very generously. You make a lame excuse to him, saying, "I am so weak," God accepts you and says, "I know. Be strong." You make a lame excuse to him, "I am sinned. My environment is too sinful." God accepts your lame excuse and forgives you and encourages you to start all over again. Because you have forgiven others of their sins, because you have been generous to others, God will forgive you and be generous to you also. Jesus says, "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you." So, ultimately, your generous attitude toward others is for you: "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven." We are all sinners; we cannot stand before God with our Bible knowledge. Ultimately, even all Jesus' disciples need God's mercy. How can we secure God's mercy for ourselves? By being merciful to others; by being generous to others' sin problems.
In verse 39, Jesus says, "Can a blind man lead a blind man?" No way! Surely, both of them will fall into a pit. In verse 40, Jesus says, "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." What is he talking about? Jesus mentioned about how generous they should be in dealing with others' problems. Now in these verses, Jesus is talking about how the disciples should struggle with their own sins. Look at verses 41 and 42. Let's read these verses together:
41 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Here, Jesus describes people's sins as "the speck of sawdust in their eyes" and the disciples' own sin problems as "the plank in their eyes." The speck of sawdust is so tiny that it can be ignored so easily. But the plank is a huge lumber, used for frames and posts for the construction like a telephone pole. Such a thing cannot be in one's eyes; but we must see our sins as a plank in our eyes - so big, obvious and serious, something that must be removed absolutely right now by any means - no excuse is accepted. And thereby, we must deal with our own sins so seriously and absolutely. You consider your own sin problem as a plank in your eye. Is there any excuse for you to have a plank in your eye? Can you say, "I am different than others"? Or "Later, I will deal with it"? No way! Instead, you will scream and shout, and you will go to an emergency room right away! No excuse, no delay is accepted. In that way, you deal with your own sin problem, your own character flaws, or your mistakes absolutely and immediately, never allowing any excuse for such things. In dealing with your sheep's sin problem, you are generous, willing to accept even their lame excuses, and to forgive; you have room for them to play around and enjoy good time. But in dealing with your own sin problem, you are so strict that you don't show any mercy, and you don't accept any excuse, but consider any sin, even any hint of sin as something so disturbing, something absolutely wicked and terrible that you are so bothered until you remove it. When you fight against your own sin so wholeheartedly like this, you will really mourn and weep a lot. When we have this kind of attitude, we can understand what Paul, the great man of God, said of himself, "I am the worst." When we have this kind of absolute attitude toward our own sin problems and have such a rigorous struggle to fight against it, we come to see everything clearly. We come to understand how terrible sin is, what sin does, how sin affects every aspect of human life, how people live under sin, what God has done for all sinners, God's love and grace shown through Jesus' death on the cross, and how we must live our life. Our understanding changes; our perspectives change; we come to develop godly value system, hope and vision. At that time, we can see how we must lead people under our care. Otherwise, if we take a casual attitude toward our sins, that is our perspectives, and that's our value system, and that's what we teach our sheep. What will happen? Indeed, both of we and our sheep will fall into a pit; when difficulties rise, when temptation comes, we will be really blown away. Why? Because no real absoluteness toward the things of God. A student is not above his teacher. Then, under such a teacher, no great student rises.
Jesus says, "First take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." This is the prerequisite for all disciples of Jesus Christ - an absolute struggle against our own sin problems. Remove all sinful, worldly and humanistic elements from our hearts and life, and build godly and spiritual value system, then, being able to see all things from God's point of view, we can help and guide people in the way God desires. As a result, under our care, so many powerful people, fully dedicated to God's purpose, will be established.
Third, "Wise builders and foolish builders" (43-49). Look at verse 43. "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit." It is really true that people do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. What Jesus is talking about here is that we must become good people so that we can produce good fruit in our life. Jesus' disciples' struggle is not to be nice or look good by doing some good looking things or by being nice to others. Instead, as Jesus' disciples, we must become really good people - with godly and spiritual value system, beautiful and godly characters, with hope in the kingdom of God, loving and pursuing Jesus Christ alone. When we become really good people, we say good words out of the good stored up in our hearts, and just as a good tree bears good fruit, we come to bear good fruit in our life. We must become good trees in God so that we can bear good fruit according to God's will and purpose. Then, how? By obeying Jesus' commands in today's passage! That's what Jesus has been talking about in today's passage. Love your enemies, and your inner person will become beautified as children of God; do not judge, do not condemn, but forgive and give, and first remove the plank from your own eye, and through this struggle, you will become truly sanctified with godly and spiritual value system. You will become good.
Look at verse 46. Let's read this verse together:
46 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?
Think about Jesus saying this to his disciples! You never want Jesus say these words to you. But alas! Sadly, this statement of Jesus describes the attitude and life of most Christian today very well; the absolute majority of God-believing people live this way. They call Jesus, "Lord, Lord." They say, "Glory goes to Him alone!" Or they say, "For his glory." They identify themselves as Christians; they pray before eating their food. They are proud that they don't believe evolution, but they believe Genesis 1. There are so many people who profess themselves as believers of Jesus Christ. But it is really hard to find even one person who does what Jesus says; it is really hard to find even one person who lives according to God's will and purpose. Indeed, the love for God is on their lips, but their hearts are far from God. Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? Again, you never want Jesus says to you like this. Then, what should we do as his disciples? We must really do what he says! We must really struggle to live according to His will and purpose, instead of just doing some Christian things. Then, on that day, Jesus will say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servants!"
Look at verses 47 through 49. Let's read these verses together:
47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is 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 is the conclusion of Jesus' sermon on the mountain - the conclusion of Jesus' teaching for his disciples. Who are wise builders and who are foolish builders? At this, many naive Christians says, "Believer are wise builders and unbelievers are foolish builders." That's not right. Again, this teaching is not for the unbelievers, but for the disciples who come to him and hear his words, even calling him, "Lord, Lord." Jesus here divides all his disciples into two groups - wise builders and foolish builders. All other things of these two groups are same - they both come to him, hear his words, and call him, 'Lord, Lord." But one thing is different. Wise builders put what they learned into practice - they obey Jesus' teaching. They struggle to love their enemies even though it is painful and difficult; they are generous to others, but strict to themselves, struggling hard to remove the planks from their own eyes; as a result, their inner person is being beautified. And through this kind of real struggles, they come to develop godly and spiritual value system, and they are being truly sanctified. As a result, their life, hope, future direction, and their desire and value system are being built up on the rock foundation of God's words. Then, later, when the rain comes, when life's challenges come, when terrible temptations come, they are not shaken; instead, they stand firm as Jesus' disciples whose life and hearts are fully dedicated to him, and what they have worked for as Jesus' disciples stands firm. Thus, they come to produce good fruit as Jesus' disciples.
Foolish builders do not put what they learned into practice, even if they call Jesus, "Lord, Lord," and even though they come to him, study the Bible and understand his words; they say many Amens, but they don't live according to Jesus' teaching. They may develop a lot of the knowledge of the Bible, and have the form of Jesus' disciples in their words and actions, but they do not become godly people, but still with worldly or fleshly value system with their hope in this life. Since they don't have the struggle of laying down the foundation, they build their house so quickly. While others have hunger and sorrows and pains in their disciples' life, these people laugh freely. But later, when life's challenges come, when real difficulties rise, and real temptations come, since their value system has not changed, since their real hope is still in this life, they are blown away, and what they have worked for as Jesus' disciples crumbles down. Thus, they fail to produce good fruit as Jesus' disciples. In Jesus' eyes, such people are foolish builders who build their house without laying down the foundation. The Bible proclaims, "If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work." (1Co 3:12-13) As Jesus' disciples, we come to him, study the Bible and hear his words; we respond to Bible's teaching with many Amens. Now we have two choices - either we become like wise builders or foolish builders. What is your choice? Of course, wise builders. Then, what should you do? Do what Jesus says! Love your enemies and struggle to remove the plank from your eyes first; be generous to others, but be very strict to your sins. Don't just have a lot of Bible knowledge, but obey God's words and you will become really good people as sons and daughters of God.
One Word: Be Good People By Obeying Jesus' Commands!
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