Jesus likened the one hearing his words and acting in harmony with them to a wise builder. Erected on a solid foundation of rock, his house would withstand rain, flash floods, and fierce winds. (Matthew 7:24, 25; Luke 6:47, 48)
The one hearing Jesus’ words and disregarding them would be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. With the coming of the rainy season and accompanying floods and powerful winds, his house would collapse and be reduced to ruins. (Matthew 7:26, 27; Luke 6:49)
Jesus’ teaching had a profound effect on those who heard him, as it differed markedly from that of the scribes. For their authority, the ancient scribes and rabbis drew on the traditional teaching of those who preceded them. Reportedly, Hillel the Great discussed a certain subject accurately all day, but his teaching was not accepted until he, at the end, said, “So I heard from Shemaia and Abtalion.”
Unlike the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus spoke authoritatively, never basing his teaching on tradition but referring only to the Scriptures or appealing to the authority his Father had granted him. It is this distinctive feature of Jesus’ teaching—his speaking with authority completely independent of tradition—that astonished the crowds who listened to him. (Matthew 7:28, 29)
The basic message of Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:47-49 is the same. In Luke’s account the one likened to a wise builder is also referred to as coming to Jesus, indicating that he is a person who wanted to hear the teaching of God’s Son. Luke 6:48 includes the additional detail that the builder dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock, but the passage does not mention the rain and the winds. Having been erected on the solid foundation, the house could not be shaken by the force of the river (at flood stage) lashing against it. The one who heard but did not act on Jesus’ teaching is then likened to a man who built his “house on the ground without a foundation.” Against this house, the raging river burst, causing it to collapse at once, “and great was the ruin of that house.”
Regardless of the circumstances, faithful adherence to Jesus’ teaching places one on a solid foundation and leads to abiding benefits. Allowing others to alter or weaken his teaching or wrongly to equate mere interpretations with his clear instruction is comparable to building on sand, with resultant serious spiritual harm. It is vital that we indeed listen to and heed Jesus’ words and not what others, through the filter of their paradigm, represent as his teaching.