The Scriptorium

Solid Rock

Jesus is His own authority. Matthew 7.24-29

Matthew 7: The Sermon on the Mount: Live toward Life’s End (6)

Pray Psalm 40.1-3.
I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD.

Sing Psalm 40.1-3.
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
I waited patiently for God; He inclined and heard my cry,
lifted me up above the sod, set me on a Rock on high!
New songs in my mouth He gave; may He through me many save.

Read Matthew 7.1-29; meditate on verses 24-29.

Prepare.
1. How does Jesus describe the wise person? The foolish person?

2. How did the people react to Jesus’ teaching?

Meditate.
We recall that this sermon began with Jesus saying, “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” His own words were the only authority Jesus drew on in His teaching. He brought the Old Testament into His teaching, but only so that He could clarify and enlarge its meaning in Himself. The scribes could not teach anything without citing some human reference: “As Rabbi So-and-So puts it…” Jesus did not need to support His words with authorities beyond Himself and the Word of God. He spoke with authority – as if He were the author of what He taught, for indeed, He is.

He insisted that His teaching was reliable and sure, like a person who builds a house on a solid rock foundation (the word for “rock”, meaning the bedrock that spreads out and supports the earth’s mantle, is, in the Greek, πέτρα, petra; we’ll consider the importance of this when we get to chapter 16). External threats, in the form of false teaching, trials, or temptations, cannot move the person who stands squarely on the solid rock of Jesus’ foundation: “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…” Every other foundation for building a life other than the Word of Jesus Christ is shifting, sinking sand. It will not last.

The reason the people “were astonished” at Jesus’ teaching is not hard to understand. He continued, throughout His sermon, to teach about the righteousness of God and His Kingdom, referring to Old Testament texts and teachings, but assigning them deeper significance on the authority of His own understanding. He thus put Himself above all the rabbis of Israel as supreme Interpreter of Scripture, and more than that, as the Lord to Whom all will one day give an account. The people had never heard any teaching like this, but they must have sensed the truth of it.

Reflect.
1. How would you explain to a new believer what it means to build his house on the solid Rock of Jesus Christ?

2. Why are all other philosophies, worldviews, and ways of life like houses build on sand?

3. How does Jesus teach us to read and understand the Old Testament?

But most of all they were astounded at his authority. For when he said these things, he did not refer to another, as even the prophet Moses did, but everywhere he showed that he himself was the One who had the authority to decide. For even when he was establishing laws Jesus continually added, “But I say to you.”
And when he was reminding them of the final day of judgment, he showed that he himself is the One who will bring justice, both through the punishments and through the honors. John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 25.1

Let me build on the solid Rock of Your Word, Lord, so that I…

Pray Psalm 40.4-17.
Thank God for His blessings and protection, and call on Him to empower you to proclaim the good news of righteousness in your Personal Mission Field.

Sing Psalm 40.4-17.
Psalm 40.4-17 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
Blessed are all who trust in You, turning both from lies and pride.
Countless wonders, Lord, You do, and Your thoughts with us abide.
Lord, Your worth who can declare? None with You can e’er compare.

Off’rings You do not require – open now my ears, O Lord.
What from me do You desire? Firm delight to do Your Word.
Take my life in ev’ry part; write Your Law upon my heart.

Lord, Your truth will I proclaim to Your people gathered ‘round,
nor will I my lips restrain – let Your precious ways resound!
Of Your saving grace and Word I would speak, most loving Lord.

Keep Your mercy not from me; let Your love and truth prevail.
Evil and iniquity make my trembling heart to fail.
Lord, be pleased to rescue me! Let my shelter with You be.

Bring to shame my ev’ry foe, all who would my life destroy;
Bring them down to scorn and woe who at my hurt sing for joy.
Let them come to grief and shame who heap scorn upon my name.

Let them shout for joy and sing who in saving grace delight!
Let them praise to Jesus bring, though affliction be their plight.
Christ, our help, our Savior He! Of us ever mindful be!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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