The wise man built his house upon the rock. The wise man built his house upon the rock. The wise man built his house upon the rock and the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up. The rains came down and the floods came up. The rains came down and the floods came up. And the house on the rock stood firm.
The wise man built his house upon the rock and called it the Sand Palace of Mexico Beach. Mexico Beach is located in Florida’s panhandle; several miles east of Pensacola; Okaloosa Island; Crab Island; and Crooked Island. The twelve-hundred locals call it Mayberry by the Sea. Subway is the only chain restaurant in town. Dr. Lebron Lackey and his uncle Russell King not only wanted to build a house in Mexico Beach or a house that would survive for generations, but a home that was built for the big one. The big one, historically, had never made it this far. South Florida typically endures its wrath. But it would come. On October 10, 2018, one year after preparing and building their home for the big one, Hurricane Michael came tumbling down on Mexico Beach. The floods came up. And when the storm dissipated and the skies cleared, there the home stood, “majestic amid the apocalyptic wreckage, the last surviving house on the block.” What did it take to build this house upon the rock? It took about double the cost per square foot to build such a house.
The Wise Man Built His House is a children’s song, an older children’s song based upon the last few words of a sermon. The last few words of this sermon are found in Matthew 7:24-27, but also in Luke 6:46-49. And those listening thought it was the greatest thing they had ever heard. “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).
What is a Sermon?
What is a sermon? Matthew 5 and Matthew 6 and Matthew 7 is a sermon, one whole sermon. Luke 6:20-49 is the same sermon. Some may know a sermon as the homily. Homiletics is the art or science of preaching or delivering the homily. In order for any sermon to be a sermon there must be some essentials. There must be a preacher. This sermon had a preacher and this sermon is probably his best known preaching! There must be listeners. This sermon had listeners, a lot of listeners. But this preacher was addressing a particular kind of listener – his disciples (cf. Luke 6:20). There must be a point. Why must there be a point? One reason is that it makes it much more interesting for the listener! This sermon had a point or a big idea: to show disciples how to respond and think and speak and behave and feel in less than ideal or negative circumstances. And there must be points, that is, there must be as few as one point to support the point or big idea. This sermon has three points: the first point was Luke 6:20-26; the second point was Luke 6:27-45; and the third point is Luke 6:46-49.
There must be content, specific content. The content is the Bible and not a mere mention of the Bible. The content of any sermon starts with the Bible and stays with the Bible. In other words, sermons are to stick to the Bible. The Bible is what we are looking at; the Bible is what we are listening to; the Bible gives the big idea; the Bible provides the points. This sermon has content. It is Luke 6:20-49. And there must be application.
Now, of these essentials which is the most critical?
Hearing, Doing, Building, Digging and Digging Deep
Again, the third point of this sermon is Luke 6:46-49. Listen to how it is introduced. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” What is this third point?
Listen to the very next verse, Luke 6:47. “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them…” I appreciate the way the New International translation words this verse. “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice…” Listen to the rest of verse forty-seven. “I will show you what he is like.” Now, look and listen to the very next verse, Luke 6:48. “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.” Pause there and notice the words building and dug deep and laid. What kind of words are these? These are action words or doing words. Notice the words dug deep. The Greek text literally reads, “He is like a man building a house, who dug and dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.” There is an emphasis on the digging, meaning the building of this house on this foundation takes effort. And now look and listen to the very last verse, Luke 6:49. “But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.” In this verse there is hearing, but there is no digging, no digging deep, no effort and there is building. In this verse there are, too, some action words. Two builders and two houses being built. What is the difference?
So, what is this third point? Let’s keep in mind the big idea of the sermon: how to respond and think and speak and behave and feel in less than ideal or negative circumstances. If we were constructing a sermon, how could we then word this third point? Hearing, Doing, Building, Digging and Digging Deep – if we were constructing a sermon and preaching this, this is how we would word this third point. But we would need to say more, we would need to expand upon it with a few more thoughts. And we would do so, first, by asking a question. In all those action words, what is Jesus getting at?
Why Do You Call Me ‘Lord, Lord’?
There are two, at least there should be two active participants in every sermon. There is the preacher. And there is the listener. This is not so much two separate actions, i.e. the preacher is preaching, the listener is listening. And yes, the preacher did a lot of studying and notetaking and reading and spent all day Friday writing the sermon. And yes, the listener should have an idea of what the text for the following Sunday will be, and hopefully read it and maybe did some studying and notetaking and reading of their own. But when it comes time to preach, there should be two active participants doing the same thing. The preacher and the listener are doing the same thing in the preaching. Both the preacher and the listener are being affected by the Word of God. Both the preacher and the listener are learning together at the very same moment!
This third point is short but profound. And it does connect to Jesus’ second point. Remember something Jesus did as he began his second point. He paused to prevent hearing loss. “But I say to you who hear…” (Luke 6:27). Or perhaps another way of saying it is, “Listen. You must really listen.” And in this third point Jesus then asks, “Why do you listen but not do what I say?!” Maybe the answer is that Jesus has not yet given them enough time to do what he has said!
No, that is obviously not it. Jesus is pointing out that in general everybody listens. All those who gathered for this sermon did so to hear Jesus teach (6:18). And I think what Jesus is getting at is…great, you listen. But there is more to preaching than just listening. There is doing. No sermon is to end with a conclusion and then a prayer and a song. Every sermon is to end with doing. That is, the most critical part of any sermon is the application.
But who is to do the applying? Who is Jesus addressing in this final point? It is whoever is calling him “Lord, Lord.’ And who would that be? Throughout this whole sermon Jesus is primarily addressing his disciples. But notice how he singles out those who call him not just Lord, but Lord, Lord. What does that mean? Is that significant?
Sometimes in Jesus’ teaching you will hear him introduce something with the words verily, verily or truly, truly. The purpose is the same as here. The double use of a word – Lord, Lord – is normally used in situations of high emotion or emphasis. Calling someone lord would be like calling them teacher, but it goes deeper than just teacher, this is recognizing someone’s rule or authority. So, these are not atheists. These are not agnostics. These are those who live good, moral lives; gather together for worship every Sunday; have been marked as his disciples – believer’s baptism; partake of the Lord’s Supper regularly; involved in ministry; may serve as an elder or deacon or even as a pastor. It is any one of us. So, when Jesus speaks of doing, he does not mean being active in a local church or serving. He is talking about building your life. This doing is about hearing what Jesus says and applying it to your own life.
So, this third point is about two people who listen, two builders. Each are building a house. We each are building our lives, trying to live life. The first builder digs and digs deep to lay his house upon a solid foundation. What could be the solid foundation? The second builder does not dig deep and just builds upon no foundation. The foundation is what Jesus has said, his words. The digging deep is the application. It is taking those words and spending some serious time figuring out where and how the words apply to my own life. This takes effort. Why does it take effort? Because it takes time, but it also may expose some hard to deal with things about me. Maybe even sin. The digging exposes what is underneath the ground.
Why is this so important? Why is application the most critical part of any sermon? Listen to the last part of Luke 6:48. “And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” Problems that I cannot control will always arise in my life. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, these problems are unexpected. It is active listening and honest application that prepare me to withstand these floods. Only storms reveal the quality of the work of the two builders. My favorite part of Luke 6:48 are the words “and could not shake it.” The word shake means to totter over. Why did Luke write Luke’s Gospel? There are things which happen to make us totter. But there are things which have happened to keep us from tottering over. And what is Jesus saying will keep us from tottering over? Coming to him and hearing his words and doing his words – active listening and honest application (6:47).
The Most Critical Part of Any Sermon
Our preacher needs to pay better attention to the application of any text. And applications vary. The youngest of us will be fifteen years old on Wednesday. The oldest of us here turned ninety-nine years old last Wednesday. Application looks different for a fifteen year old than a ninety-nine year old. But each are expected to listen to the same sermon about the same Bible text and apply it.
So, how might we apply this sermon today? Pray. Pray for the preacher and pray for yourself. When? Well, throughout the week, but what about also during the preaching? Listen to the sermon with your Bible open. Listen to the sermon with your Bible open and take notes. Take your notes home. Take your notes home and review and reflect. Or maybe, recite the sermon. And think about doing this maybe Sunday afternoon, but perhaps also sometime Thursday. And do some doing, some applying.
A young Korean man traveled a great distance to the home of the missionary who had led him to Christ and then announced his reason for the visit. “I have been memorizing some verses of the Bible, and I want to quote them to you.” The missionary listened as the young man without error recited the entire Sermon on the Mount. He commended the young man for the remarkable feat of memory. Then, being a good missionary, he cautioned the young man to not only “say” the Scriptures but to practice them. The man responded, “Oh, that is the way I learned them. I tried to memorize them, but they wouldn’t stick, so I made a plan. First I would learn a verse. Then I would do it to a neighbor. After that, I found that I could remember it.”