Jesus cuts the will with an incisive question near the end of His sermon. As Luke recorded it, Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you?” (6:46) He follows the question with the famous illustration, and favorite kids’ song, about the foolish man who built his house upon the sand and the wise man who built on the rock. The foundation matters.
What is the foundation in the story? It is not Jesus Himself, though that is true when we sing “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.” It is not Jesus’ word, though that also is true when we sing “How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord is laid for your faith in His excellent word.” The foundation in Jesus’ illustration is obedience. One comes to Jesus, hears His words and does them. Another hears and does not do them. Disobedience is sand. Obedience is rock.
We usually emphasize the foolish man and his destruction. When the stream breaks the ruin and fall of his house is great. We observe the fool to avoid becoming foolish. That’s why Jesus Himself wonders why a man would call Him Lord and not obey. But let us also remember the blessing. When the flood comes and the stream breaks the house of the obedient cannot be shaken.
God promises great things to those who hear and do His word. Are you hungry for that blessing? Are you building so your house will stand, that is, so your life will remain upright? If not, confess it. That’s laying solid footings for a firm foundation of obedience.
Monday Night Football is one of my favorite parts about the fall season. I watched the fourth quarter of the game yesterday between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons (only, of course, after game five of the World Series finished). The Saints remained undefeated largely due to their quarterback, Drew Brees, who threw two touchdowns and completed 25 of 33 attempts for 308 total passing yards. Regardless of what it may seem so far, this is not a post about football or Saints marching in or my becoming a bandwagon fan.
After the game, Steve Young talked about how Brees “threw open” his receivers. I had never heard this phrase before. Neither, apparently, had his MNF co-host Stuart Scott. So Scott asked Young to explain what it meant to “throw someone open.” Young defined two ideas behind the phrase. First, throwing someone open protects the receiver. The receiver can trust that when he runs toward the thrown ball, no defensive back is going to come out of a blind spot and thump him. Second, though not entirely distinct from the first idea, throwing someone open is a way to get the receiver into the clear. The receiver can trust that he will be more open running toward the thrown ball than if he stayed where he was.
I was still marinating in this phrase today and thought perhaps there is a bit of pastoral application. Sheep should be able to trust that when their shepherd leads in a particular direction, they will become more Christlike than if they stayed put. A pastor should protect his sheep, leading in a way that, even if they can’t see a certain temptation or difficulty coming, they are kept away from threats as much as possible. He should always lead his sheep to a more holy place on the field. In other words, pastors should throw their sheep obedient.