Friday, January 28, 2011

Foundation of Sand

Finally, we have arrived at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, a journey through three consecutive chapters of Matthew, with an asynchronous journey through two chapters of Mark and seven chapters of Luke for incomplete-but-related content. The Gospel of John amazingly has no content related to any parts of the Sermon on the Mount. Now it is time for reflection and summary.

Foundation of Sand
Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount with the parable of the wise builder, or the parable of the foundations, in Matthew 7:24-27, which is similarly recorded in Luke 6:46-49. The parable: A man's house which is built on a foundation of rock will endure, but a man's house which is built on a foundation of sand will be destroyed. The meaning: Do what Jesus commands, and you will endure. But if you do not do what Jesus commands, then you will be destroyed. So let us review what Jesus instructed in the Sermon on the Mount.

Revealed from the beginning of the Sermon, this was a private sermon to Jesus' disciples, not to the crowds. The Beatitudes were meant to be a pep talk; telling the disciples that those who struggle now will be rewarded, but those who are already living well, in the materialistic sense, are going to be the ones who suffer in the future.

As a confirmation that this speech is to Jesus' disciples instead of to the masses, Jesus calls them the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:50, Luke 14:34-35) and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16, Mark 4:21-23, Luke 8:16-17). It is ironic that Jesus tells His disciples that nobody hides a light, when He Himself, as the true Light of the World, tried to hide His light when exorcising demons.

Jesus affirms that His followers should obey and teach God's Law, also known as the Law of Moses, the 613 laws, commands, and decrees given in the Torah. The problem with the Pharisees was that they were legalistic with the laws which man created, not the laws which God had provided.

Next, Jesus overrides and intensifies some of God's laws; equating hate to murder and lustful thoughts to adultery, and explaining that divorce should be prohibited because it creates adulterers upon subsequent marriages of the parties involved. Keep in mind that God's Law says that murderers and adulterers should be put to death. (Later, Jesus recommended not getting married partly due to this issue.)

In the middle of that, um, enhancement, Jesus also instructs reconciliation of grievances prior to worship (Matthew 5:23-24) and settling grievances privately instead of in the courts (Matthew 5:25-26, Luke 12:57-59).

Jesus condemns swearing to anything, instead favoring that you be honest to your word. This is despite God actually prescribing different vows in the Old Testament.

Then Jesus provides His really difficult teachings. Do not seek justice. Let someone beat you. Freely give anyone anything that they want of yours. Freely lend without expecting anything back. Love your enemies. In short, disregard personal justice, safety, and possessions, and love those that hate you.

Next, Jesus tells us that all acts of charity and prayer should be done privately, to the extent that nobody knows that you are doing them. Furthermore, prayer should be general and non-specific. So put an end to public prayer and prayer requests.

Jesus says that you had better forgive any and all transgressions against you, or else you will not be forgiven by God (Matthew 6:14-15).

Then, harping on the same chord as giving and praying privately, Jesus says that you should fast, but not look like you are fasting while you are (Matthew 6:16-18).

Jesus then preaches that the true pursuit of God is through poverty. Forget trying to work for money. Instead, work for God and have faith that God will provide.

Next, Jesus warns that people should not be hypocritical in their judgements of other people, and instructs that His followers should judge a person's character before deciding whether or not to share the Gospel with them.

From there, Jesus says that God will bestow good gifts to those who ask for them (Matthew 7:7-11, Luke 11:9-13), but we know that you should be very careful when asking for something from God.

Jesus instructs us to do unto others as we would have done to us in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.

After that gentle sentiment, Jesus harshly informs us that only a few people will take the narrow road to Salvation, while the overwhelming majority will take the road to destruction.

Nearly at the end, Jesus simplifies judgement for us through a parable. If we see someone do something good, then assume that they are completely good. If we see someone do something bad, then assume that they are completely bad.

This brings us back to the question of foundations. Are you on sand or on rock? Are you putting into practice everything Jesus that says, or are you not doing everything and thereby on the road to destruction? Not sure? I'll summarize and simplify it for you. Answer the following question:

Do you know and teach God's Law, believe divorce is as bad as adultery, avoid swearing even in when legally required to do so, avoid seeking justice for yourself, let people hit you, have complete disregard for all possessions, love scam artists, bullies, and terrorists, pray, fast, and give charity as privately and anonymously as possible, forgive all who have ever wronged you, have an income at or near subsistence level, judge only non-hypocritically, share the Gospel only with good people, and always treat people the way you would want to be treated?

If you answered yes, good for you! If you answered no, well, you may need some house insurance, but you are not alone. According to Jesus, the overwhelming majority of the world is on the road to destruction, which doubtlessly includes many self-identified Christians.

The simple fact is that if you said no, you are at least a little honest and practical. While some of Jesus' teachings are good “as is” and others could be useful in less literal senses, following the teachings in their entirety is a prescription for disaster for you, your family, your community, and your country. If this life matters at all beyond getting to Heaven, Jesus' entire teachings as a whole are calamitous and detrimental to it; they are a true foundation of sand.

If we pick and choose the best teachings of Jesus, if we use the pressure of our better moral judgement to disregard self-destructive policies like letting yourself be abused and not seeking justice while promoting the messages of self-discipline, kindness, forgiveness, and humility, we can turn that foundation of sand into sandstone rock of practical moral teaching. With that much effort, you have to ask why even begin with Jesus for teaching morals? Yet we should not forget that this was not supposed to be just moral teaching, but rather the guideposts on the road to the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 7:28-29 concludes with the crowds being amazed by Jesus' teachings. It was amazing, too: amazing how the “crowds” even heard Jesus, being that He started off by sitting down and speaking only to His disciples (Matthew 5:1), amazing how anyone recorded this epic sermon in times when writing implements were still a bit of a luxury, and amazing how none of the other Gospels mention an epic sermon on a mountain. Perhaps most amazing is how people today do not realize that these teachings collectively only make sense if the true Kingdom of God was imminent, if your afflictions were only a very temporary testing, and that makes them that much more amazing to be writing about them 2000 years later in our world now...


  1. spalms 32 eyes ezekiel 7 eye reference duetonomy 11 eye reference jeremiah 16 eye reference isaiah 65 eye reference jeremia 2 eye reference.
    how does this man know scripture havfing never studied/LEARned. AMAZING feat for someone that doesn't read. READINg old testimate prooves he is a fraud.

  2. Hi Anonymous. I am having some difficulty parsing your cryptic comment. Are you calling me a fraud or are you calling Jesus a fraud? Also, would you please explain a little more about what you mean with the “eyes” references you give? Thanks.

  3. I suppose that sounded perfectly coherent in the head of anonymous, but it didn't translate into type very well.

  4. I know, right? I would think that he/she was more likely calling me a fraud if it wasn't for the fact that this same person posted this exact same comment on my "The False Temptation of Jesus Christ" post, but added the following:

    "john 7 JESUS ADMITS to not being GOD and john 10 he ATTEMPTS to make himself appear to be GOD."

    Strange indeed.

  5. ISIAIh 41 BRING forth your IDOLS did they PREACH to you see they can’t speak they can’t DO ANYTHING all they do is cause confusion. spalms 115 and spalms 135 thier IDOLS are FALSE cant speak can't hear cant smell and those that make them shall become like them. Jeremiah 10 they nail their IDOL down like a scarecrow it can’t move can'...t speak can’t move must be carried these are nothing but the WORK of CON men.john 10 jesus christ sais his sheep hear his voice and another voice thy will not follow and if another person tries to preach to them they WILL FLEE from him. jeremiah 5 the priests bear rule on their own authority what will you do when your judged my word is not inside them. Now here is the kicker john 5 son of man voice goes back in time mathew 16 jesus christ claims to be the son of man. 1 cor2 mind of CHRIST preached internally and john 16 sais the spirit of truth comes in the future. Ezekiel 13 lying prophets of ISRAEL my word is not inside them saying god sais god sais god sais wrote hoping mankind would CONFIRM their WORDS. all of this is EASILY verifiable

  6. jeremiah 16 my eyes are upon all thier ways it is not hidden from me. isiah 65 has a statement it is written in front of me i will not remain silent and if you scroll down further a statement that sais hidden from my eyes therefore forgotten. which both requires one to READ.

  7. jeremaih 7 vs 16 do not even bother prayin to me I will NOT hear you. also read jeremiah 7 vs 19 through 27

  8. another good read Ezekiel 33 they hear you Son of man but they will not do what you say when this comes to pass they will know a true prophet has been amongst them. also read ezekiel 33 vs 23 through 29.

  9. jeremiah 5 my word is not inside them and ezekiel 13 my wrd is not inside them.

  10. Thanks for the input, Anonymous. I think I understand what you are saying.

    May I make a suggestion? I think it would be easier for everyone to follow along if you fully state your belief, and then support it with verses. Giving the verse number and stating roughly what is in the verse does not necessarily tell everyone what you are trying to say, so it can be confusing.

  11. Maybe Anonymous is a beat poet? If you say those posts out loud to the rhythm of bongo drums, you could entertain a coffee shop for a whole evening.

  12. @Ahab
    I think you have it! I should have tried reading that with a wandering bass line and some bongos while sipping coffee and snapping my fingers. Then I probably would have thought that he was so profound, man. :-)