In the Holy Land, there is much solid rock, whether exposed, under a couple inches or under ten or more feet of soil. To build, one digs down however far it takes to use the foundation of solid rock. People build in the summer when it is dry not raining, yet it is hot. It is very hard work to break through the clay and dig down to solid rock. One may be tempted to skip the harder part, yet a sure foundation is essential to survive the winter floods.[i]
Jesus said, “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.” Hearing and doing Jesus’ words take great effort, like digging down through hard clay under hot sun. This parable ends Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke and another version ends the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew.[ii] Jesus ends with a call for necessary, risky, costly action.
What are you hearing from Jesus? What’s the invitation? Take heart. Though not easy, the effort required is wise, good, and will save amid storms that have, are, and will come.
Isaiah prophesied God would give a foundation in Zion, a precious cornerstone. Many expected a literal place, a third temple. Jesus here also presents himself—“come to me”—as fulfilling that promise.[iii] Writing to the Corinthians, Paul described Jesus as the foundation. [iv]
Jesus both speaks words and is the Word. Hear and act, dig deep to the Solid Rock. As we shall sing: “Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the head and cornerstone, chosen of the Lord and precious, binding all the Church in one, holy Zion’s help forever and her confidence alone.”[v]
[i] Kenneth E. Bailey (2008) Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, p. 323-4.
[ii] Ibid, p. 321.
[iii] Ibid, p. 327.
[iv] 1 Corinthians 3:11
[v] #518 in The Hymnal 1982. Translated by John Mason Neale (1861) from 6th or 7th century Latin text.
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