|FOUNDATION & FOLLOWING
Series: The Sermon on The Level - Part Five
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
February 2, 2020
Please stand with me - if you are able - as we come together before God and His word and as we read together Luke 6 - starting at verse 46:
“Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been will built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Today is our last Sunday studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Level. Jesus on the level plain - north shore Sea of Galilees - Jesus leveling with His disciples about what it looks like in real time - the attitude and actions of a true disciple of Jesus. Someone who is actually following Jesus the way that Jesus says is the way to follow Jesus - to be His disciple.
So, this being our last Sunday looking at Jesus’ sermon - we have a short pop quiz. If you will take out your mental styluses...
Question #1: A disciple is:
A. A unit used to measure the intensity of sound
B. A two wheeled public conveyance of southern India
C. A two rotation jump required in Olympic figure skating
D. A learner seeking to become like his or her teacher
Answer D: A disciple is someone who... seeks to learn - to be mentored - to so closely follow the teaching of the teacher that at the mind and heart level - in the manner of life - to see the student is to see the... teacher.
Question #2: To follow Jesus as His disciple means:
A. Agreeing with God that we are without hope in our total depravity and sin.
B. Coming to God without our defining what it means to be “all in” with God - but coming by faith with complete openness to Him.
C. Agreeing with God that we are desperate for what He offers us through Christ Jesus’ completed work on the cross.
D. All of the above
Jesus has been teaching that to be His disciple means that we stop coming to God with our expectations of God and our definition and description of what it means to be “all in” with God - and we simply come. Agreeing with God that we got nothing but our own sin and we are desperate for what God offers to us in Christ Jesus.
Question #3: Jesus has been helping His disciples to understand that:
A. There are two very different ways of looking at and moving through life - one way which is blessed by God and one which is cursed.
B. It is really crucial to choose wisely who or what we will follow through life.
C. All of the above
D. None of the above
Answer: All of the above. Two perspectives - two ways of going through life - both with consequences now and forever. And so we have a choice to make. Who or what will we follow through all of that? Who’s disciple will we be? And, we choose Jesus. Yes!
Coming to verse 46 - we’re coming to what Luke records as Jesus’ summary and conclusion. Verse 46 is The Question that sets out where Jesus is going in these verses.
“Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
Let’s be reminded that Jesus is talking to His disciples. This the “A” team.
Cycling back - when Luke gives us the setting of Jesus’ sermon - Luke tells us that there was a great multitude of people that came from all over - geographically and spiritually.
The one thing that pulled that multitude together was their need for Jesus. They came to hear Jesus and to be healed by Him and to be set free from the demons that oppressed them.
Which is a good thing. Yes?
But it falls short of what it means to be a full on disciple of Jesus as Jesus defines what it means to be His disciple. And, it falls short of what God offers to each of us in Jesus. God redeeming us from our sin and healing us at the core of who we are - restoring us to the wholeness of a person created in God’s image - living the astounding life that He has for us in Jesus.
Luke also records a distinction that we pointed out earlier in our study - Luke records that within that multitude was a crowd of Jesus’ disciples.
Meaning that Jesus - here in verse 46 - Jesus is speaking to the disciples as a distinct group. Jesus is discipling - mentoring - those that have come with the desire to go deeper. To actually become - attitude and actions - like Jesus - their teacher.
Which makes Jesus’ question here in verse 46 all the more startling.
“Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord...” - the repetition being for emphasis. “Why do you - My disciples - emphatically call Me Lord.”
“Lord” is a word with profound and deep implications.
“Lord” translates the Greek word “kurios.” It’s used for someone who has absolute control over someone. A master who owns another person. It describes someone who has sovereign authority - like a king. It’s a title given to the resurrected Messiah Jesus who has unique ownership of mankind. In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible it’s used of God. (Acts 10:36)
“Lord” is a title of honor, respect, reverence by which servants salute their absolute master. Repetition meaning over the top reverence - respect.
“Why call Me Lord, Lord, if you don’t do what I tell you to do?” All that reverence should come with obedience. Why doesn’t it?
Jesus is calling out the “A” team - His disciples - for talking the talking and failing at walking the walk.
Let’s be clear on what’s behind the question.
Have you ever known people who only talk about themselves?
When they ask you how you’re doing, don’t breathe when you answer, or you’ll never get another word in. It’s like we’re just physical place keepers to enable them to focus on themselves.
They’re always sharing some story about something that happened to them or something they know about. They can go for hours talking and sharing and talking and sharing. Conversation that’s all about them.
Reality check. Lest we be tempted to point fingers at others. Most of us could do better at listening.
There is a huge value to be placed on listening. Yes?
How will we ever get to know what someone else feels and thinks and what concerns them if we’re not willing to yield the conversation and listen?
If we’re really listening we’re going to seek to draw out - heart level - what moves and motivates and burdens and weighs down someone. What is of great value to them.
And if we’re really listening we’ll be better able to better understand and respond to the real needs of that person not just our assumptions about someone. Right?
Listening is respecting - honoring - the person we’re listening to.
Jesus was surrounded by multitudes of people who called Him “Lord.” But calling Him “Lord” isn’t the test of a true disciple. The test of discipleship comes when someone listens to Jesus and responds as Jesus calls us to respond to Him. That’s respecting and reverencing Jesus.
A practical way of thinking about that for ourselves is to ask ourselves if we’re really listening to Jesus or are we just talking at Him?
It’s the fine line between coming to Jesus with our agenda and our expectations verses learning to listen to what Jesus is actually saying and to be open to follow Him by faith into whatever He calls us to obey.
Probably, most of us need to do less assuming and talking at Jesus and doing the Christian life our way and to do a whole lot more listening to Jesus and following Jesus Jesus’ way. Just saying.
Coming here at the end of Jesus’ teaching - leveling with His disciples - is Jesus calling out His disciples - how they’re responding to Him. Are you really listening to Me and so are you following? Doing what I say? Or not?
Going on to verse 47 - Jesus gives an illustration of The Choice that’s in front of all of us. Which is a pretty familiar illustration. Yes?
A house with a dug deep foundation resting on bedrock has a really solid foundation. The emphasis being permanence - safety - security - the ability to survive the storms of life. Point being that’s the foundation to build on.
In contrast is a house built right on the ground - basic dirt - with no foundation. When the stream floods... bye bye house.
January 1982 - the San Lorenzo River over by Santa Cruz - after 25 plus inches of rain the river flooded. 30 homes destroyed. 22 people died. I remember one person describing what it was like to be sitting at a coffee shop and see their home float down the river.
We’re tracking with Jesus. Right? It is crucial to build our lives on the right foundation. Choice being: Are we really listening to Jesus - His words - His teaching - and so doing - building on the foundation He’s laying out - or are we building our lives on something else? Anything else being pretty shaky. An inevitable disaster.
Unpacking that. First - Jesus showing us Our Choice of Foundations.
A dug deep - laid on the rock - foundation for life that’s built on Jesus’ words - His teaching - the word of God. Or a house build on the whit, wisdom, working and Wikipedia knowledge of the world.
Let’s make sure we’re hearing what Jesus is opening up here.
Some of you might remember this. A few years back - at 7:51 a.m. - in a Washington DC metro station - a man positioned himself against a bare wall next to a trash basket. He didn’t stand out much. He was a young man in jeans - long-sleeved T shirt - wearing a Washington Nationals baseball cap.
From a small case he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money and began to play.
For the next 43 minutes - this man played Mozart and Shubert - masterpieces that have endured for centuries - played to perfection while rush hour crowds surged by - hardly bothering to notice. Just another guy in a subway station playing for spare change.
Had they noticed - they might have recognized Joshua Bell - who is one of the great violin virtuosos of the world. They might have noticed that he was playing a $4 million violin hand crafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari at the peak of his career.
In the metro station Bell collected $32 from the 27 people who stopped long enough to make a donation. Three days earlier Bell had sold out Boston’s Symphony Hall - with cheaper seats going for $100.
The whole episode was a project of the Washington Post - that the editors called “an experiment in context, perception, and priorities…” (1)
Context - perception - priorities.
How we see and experience the world that we’re passing through. What we understand. Those things that are real and important and valuable to us. Choosing what to build our lives on.
Cycling back to when Jesus began teaching this Sermon on the Level - Jesus laid that choice out as being between what God is all in blessing and what is woe - what is cursed - real time - right now and forever - drama, disaster, and death.
The Bible - God’s word - tells us that Satan was created by God - a magnificent creature - perfect in beauty. Satan’s home was in heaven with God - living in close intimacy with God. He was exalted. Full of wisdom. (Isaiah 14:4-21; Ezekiel 28:1-10)
The Bible - God’s word - tells us that there was a war in heaven - Satan - in pride - rebelling against God. Satan - defeated - was kicked out of heaven. (Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:7-9)
The Bible - God’s word - tells us that Satan is the “Prince of the power of the air.” (Ephesians 2:2) He’s the god of this world. He controls darkness - the forces of darkness - all that’s evil. Kicked out of heaven he’s working to make life on earth - hell on earth. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
The word “satan” means... “accuser” or “slanderer.” Jesus called Satan the father of lies. In Scripture he’s called the tempter. (1 Samuel 29:4; 1 Kings 11:14; Proverbs 14:12; 16:25; Matthew 4:3; Luke 9:24; John 8:44; 1 Thessalonians 3:5)
Satan mimics God’s truth. Imitates God’s work. Promises great things to those who will follow him in his lies. Tempting us to trust ourselves. To lead mankind to eternal damnation - torment and punishment with him forever removed from God.
Satan’s desire is to destroy God’s people - us. He leads us to destroy our marriages - our families - to addictions - to attitudes and actions that are self-destructive. Satan doing whatever he can to lead us away from God. (Mark 5:3; 15:30; Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 2:11; Revelation 9:11)
Context - perception - priorities. Satan loves to mess with our minds.
Years back a team of researchers at the University of Tokyo announced that they’d genetically engineered a mouse - genetically removed receptors in its brain - so that the mouse had no fear of cats. The mouse just snuggles up to the cat.
While the mouse didn’t fear the cat - at one point they had to remove the cat because the cat began to think of the mouse as food.
The apostle Peter warns us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a... like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
The paws of Satan are the philosophies and ideas and religions of this world. His teeth are the economics - the things we run after - the ungodly desires and cravings of our hearts. He’s licking his chops - hungry - “seeking someone to devour.”
People may rush by him - not paying attention - choosing to ignore him. Blaming the hard stuff of this world on poor choices or bad karma or something. But he’s there. Skillful at what he does. Blinding - deceiving - orchestrating - luring people away from God - from what is true about life.
We’re not immune to that - even as disciples. It is extremely easy for us to get caught off guard thinking that what is being put out by the culture we live in - that we’ve grown up in and are saturated by - that all that is what’s true and the reality we need to build our lives on. Whether we recognize it or not.
It is extremely easy for us to assume we’re listening to Jesus when we’re like the multitude following for our own purposes and with our version of what it means to follow Him. Since the beginning the Church has struggled to penetrate culture not be overcome by it.
The house built on dirt? “it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
We need to be hearing Jesus. Jesus calling out His “A” team of disciples. Who thought they were all something calling Jesus “Lord, Lord.”
Are you really following or are you just giving lip service to what it means to be My disciple? It is way too easy for us to caught up and bound up in the lies of Satan - even while we’re trying to follow Jesus.
That’s a sobering thought. Isn’t it. Maybe as startling to us as it was for Jesus to call out His disciples back then.
Unpacking Jesus’ illustration - second - Jesus is showing us Our Choice of Authorities. Which is about being certain that our lives - yours - mine - are actually founded on and being built up on Jesus.
When our lives meet the drama of reality what good is someone else’s faith? What does it matter what our parents believed or what a pastor believes or how we were raised - the church we attended - what we were taught - our Children’s Worship teachers - or AWANA leaders - the youth group we were a part of. As godly as they might be - all that is about their relationship with God.
But faith is personal. We can’t piggy back on someone else’s faith. Each of us individually must come to a point of choosing what we ourselves will believe - under who or what authority we will place our lives. Who will we follow or not?
When the flood waters are rising and the creek is overflowing what counts is the foundation our lives are built on - not someone else’s. What counts is who’s authority we’re living under. Someone who thinks they understand life - who interprets life? Or the God Who created life?
Matthew - recorded Jesus teaching a sermon not too far from where Jesus is teaching here - same basic teaching. Matthew records that when Jesus finished the crowds were astonished - blown away - at His teaching, Why? He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28,29)
Every teacher that these people had ever heard - every Pharisee - every scribe - ever rabbi - they all quoted someone else. They all gave interpretations of God’s law.
Even today - every teacher we’ve ever heard - the greatest theologians of today are all interpreting - seeking to explain and process what God has already said.
When Jesus taught He wasn’t quoting anybody else. No “Moses says this” or “Rabbi so and so says this.”
Jesus speaks with His own authority. That’s the attitude by which He teaches and the manner in which He teaches.
Jesus teaches as His own authority because He is His own authority. There is no greater authority. Jesus is THE Word of God. God Himself speaking to us about how to do life.
All those miracles that the disciples had a front row seat for - are about validating Jesus’ claim to authority. The resurrection is the exclamation point of His authority.
Meaning that everything Jesus taught about what it means to be blessed by God with a relationship with God - what it means to live that life out in the day to day drama of our lives - living that out with the God given purpose that God created us for and called us to - to live that God forgiven and God restored relationship with God now and forever - everything Jesus taught is 100% absolutely authoritatively true.
He is the authority - the only authority - that is worthy of trusting our lives to - of following through life - now and forever.
Jesus’ illustration clarifies the crucial importance of not just assuming that we’re all good and following.
We have a choice of foundations. Satan’s slight of hand world of delusion or God’s truth. We have a choice of authorities - Satan’s wonderful world of lies and what people think about God - or Jesus speaking with the authority of God.
Processing that choice Where we are - you and I - in our being “all in” disciples of Jesus. Jesus’ lays out the real time of that choice as He’s introducing His illustration. Look back with me at verse 47.
Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and does them, That’s what it means to choose Jesus. Foundation and authority.
First: We Need To Come To Jesus. “Everyone who comes to Me...”
Which is the beginning point of being Jesus’ disciple.
Jesus has been teaching that to be His disciple means that we stop coming to God with our expectations of God and our definition of what it means to be “all in” with God - and we simply come.
We agree with God that we’ve got nothing - nothing but our sin and our brokenness - to come to God with. That we are spiritually impoverished and desperate for what God offers to us in Christ Jesus.
We got to let go of ourselves and trust God with all we are. Scary? Vulnerable? A struggle? Sure.
But that’s the beginning point - the heart level openness to God - of being a disciple of Jesus as Jesus is calling on us to be His disciples.
Second: We Need To Hear Jesus. “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words…”
The word in Greek for “hear” is “akouō”. It has the idea of perception - listening and comprehending - understanding - the meaning of what’s being said. Listening that’s an intentional choice.
Remember back to when we looked at the book of Revelation? In the first 3 chapters - Jesus is talking to the seven churches “He who has an ear, let him hear - same word - “akouō.”
There’s an oldie but goodie story about some scientists who took a house fly and cut off its wings. They put the fly on a petri dish and clapped their hands right near the fly. Which of course just sat there in the petri dish rather than flying off. The scientists concluded that without wings a fly can’t hear.
God’s people have ears to hear. The spiritual equipment to hear. But will we listen? “He who has ears to hear” is all about the heart of a disciple - the condition of our heart before God - our openness to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Our willingness to take in what we’re hearing - to recognize the danger - to see the precariousness of our position - to seek understanding of what God offers to each one of us. The authority we give God to use His words to transform our lives.
Let me encourage you to go back - this week - go back and read the Sermon on the Level. Takes less than 5 minutes. Read it like you’re listening to Jesus teaching it out the level by the Sea of Galilee.
Before you start to read - ask God to help you hear Him. What do Jesus’ words offer to you? What do you need to hear? To be open to? To allow God to show you about your life? Where does God want to get a hold of your life and transform you forever?
Third: We Need To Obey Jesus. “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and does them…”
Have you ever noticed that kids can look in a bathroom mirror - see all the dirt on their face - splash water everywhere - and still leave with dirt on their faces? They will swear up and down that they’re clean.
Sometimes when it comes to God’s word maybe we don’t want to see what’s really in the mirror. What’s really being shown to us.
Maybe we’ve gotten so accustomed to what Satan is dishing out - the crud of this world - the lies we’ve heard - the pain we feel - the toys we own - church as we know it - that we’re fearful to trust God’s word.
The Greek word for “does” is “poieō.” It has the meaning of taking something like an idea - or something we’re taught - think Jesus’ sermon on the level - and making it into something concrete. Putting into physical action what’s going through our brains.
Both of these builders in Jesus’ illustration could have been listeners to the word of God - like the multitude or maybe even the disciples - like each of us here. Read their Bibles everyday - twice a day. Been to church every Sunday. Gone to Bible study - Life Group. Had a Bible on their coffee table and commentaries on the shelf. But that’s not acting on Jesus’ words.
Jesus isn’t taking His disciples - us - through some intellectual exercise - a discussion of theological and doctrinal principles. Jesus is leveling with His disciples. Cycling back through His teaching, this is what following looks like in real time.
You actually need to reject the value system of this world and the world’s answers to life’s issues and to acknowledge your spiritual poverty and to weep over your sin and to cry out to God for what He offers you through Me.
And as you follow me you will be hated. And yet - as painful as all that maybe - you still need to rejoice and cling to the hope that’s found only in Me.
And yes, I am actually calling on you to respond to those who abuse you and shame you and make themselves to be your enemies - to respond to them with prayer and the overflowing abundance and generosity of love and grace and mercy that God has shown you.
I actually expect you to stop acting like hypocrites who judge and condemn their fellow sinners and instead to forgive others as God has forgiven you.
What He says we do. Period.
Which is incredibly simple to say and massively difficult to do. Yes?
Hang on to this. As much as we might struggle with that choice - we need to come back to this - again and again - who needs the drama and deception and death of this world when we’ve got Jesus?
It is Jesus that we’re coming to. His word that we’re listening to. His word that we’re doing.
We’re following Jesus. Who gets it. This isn’t theory for Jesus. He lived it. He Himself set the example for us for us to follow.
And He gets us. Came and went to the cross for us. Experiencing exactly what it is that holds us back from following Him.
Jesus who lives and is returning for us.
It’s that Jesus who calls us to follow Him as His disciple.
1. 04.08.07 Washington Post - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.