In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Matthew 7: 24-29
This parable comes after Jesus has so eloquently delivered the magnificent Sermon on the Mount, which included the Beatitudes, and teachings on subjects such as being salt and light, fulfilling the law by practicing the commandments against murder, adultery, divorce, as well as reminders about how to love our enemies, give to the needy, fasting, praying, and not storing up treasures, worrying, or judging others. The parable of the house on the rock is the PS provided by Jesus, which wraps up his prior teachings with an admonition to remain firmly planted on the solid ground of faithfulness.
It’s a very straight forward parable: everyone who has heard Jesus’ teaching and puts these into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock solid foundation. When the inevitable rain comes down and the streams of water rise and the winds blow and beat mercilessly against the sides of the house, it withstands the bad weather without a problem. However, for those who have heard Jesus’ teaching and choose not to put them into practice, are like a foolish person, who builds his house on a flimsy, sandy foundation. When the rains come, streams rise, winds blow and beat against the house, the house falls with a great crash. This story and all previous and subsequent teachings of Jesus amazed the crowds.
Did their amazement at the profundity of Jesus’ teaching lead them toward a faithful response? The crowds were drop-jawed with awe in his presence, especially the beauty of the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. However, their mountain top experience would be short lived, even though many would subsequently be healed of their diseases and released of their captivities. They would follow him for many more miles, as Jesus continually opened his outstretched arms of love toward them. But, we also know the “rest of the story” – they would ultimately abandon to a tortuous death the very Teacher who introduced to them the abundance of life with God.
Wisdom or foolishness, that is their clear choice. Wisdom is the ability to judge a situation correctly by gathering information and understanding, and then to follow through with appropriate action. It’s more than simply following the rules; it’s instead the creation of a pathway that leads to the fullness of life. The way of wisdom directs one toward the teachings and corresponding lifestyle choices that honor and please God. For Jesus, he was able to summarize so much of God’s teachings in this powerful Sermon on the Mount. This sermon was delivered with outstretched arms of love.
What is your response to the invitation of Jesus to walk the pathway of wisdom, as opposed to making foolish decisions that lead you off course? You may wish to ponder anew the Sermon on the Mount. Behold Jesus the Teacher; believe the Truth he wisely presents; belong to those who are amazed at his wisdom; and become wise in your Jesus foundation and in the pathway you are following him today.