The Parable of The Wise And Foolish Builders. On one level, it’s about the choice between building a house on rock or sand. That sounds like an easy choice to make. On another level, it’s about what we do, if anything, after hearing or reading what Jesus had to say. It’s interesting that it comes at the very end of The Sermon On The Mount. Chapters 5 to 7 of Matthew’s Gospel. John Stott says this about the Sermon on the Mount passages:
The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed. It is the nearest thing to a manifesto that he ever uttered, for it is his own description of what he wanted his followers to be and to do. To my mind, no two words sum up its intention better, or indicate more clearly its challenge to the modern world, than the expression ‘Christian counter-culture’.
That really sets up the “problems” with parables quite nicely. They’re well known. Easy to remember. But hard to understand. Just like the Sermon on the Mount. There’s a saying about something being a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. This is one of those. The saying is meant to portray something very mysterious and hidden. That it’s also out in the open, easy to remember and easy to understand only serves to make it even more enigmatic (difficult to interpret or understand; mysterious.) How’s that for a riddle wrapped up in an enigma which itself is a riddle wrapped up in an enigma?
One has to do with Old Testament Prophecy. It really gets into the concepts of why some people see the obvious meanings of a parable, but others see the deeper meaning. In this case, whether people see this as comparing Jesus’ teachings to where to build a building. or whether His words are really a blueprint for our lives.
There are also cultural issues at play in the parables. Unfortunately, that makes things more difficult for us today. It’s like having another layer of riddles. Of course, the problem with cultural concepts is that we don’t live in a culture anything like that of Jesus in His time. So instead of easier, it’s harder for us.
Oh yeah. There’s one other thing. How many of us actually build our own houses? My grandfather did. Three of them. He’d build one – move into it – and start to build another one. Move into it. Repeat process. I remember a few things about “helping” with the third one when I was very little. But I never built a house myself. It’s another of those things that we’re now so far removed from that we just don’t understand much about it.
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