The Sermon Close
In Matthew’s gospel this parable rounds of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. It is simple in its structure, following the often used comparison between two peoples actions. It is the a summary of all that has gone before, condensing the proceeding sermon into a simple illustration.
Jesus has spoken at length in the sermon about how we should live, covering topics from how to pray to new interpretations of the law on murder and adultery. His teaching was challenging and radical and the parable highlights the choice those who hear it have to make.
The first person is wise because when building a house they build it on solid rock and when the storm comes it is safe. The other is foolish because they build on sand and when the rain falls it is washed away. From what the parable tells us both houses are identical other than the foundation they have. It is only the foundation of sand or rock that effects whether is stands or falls.
The most important word in this parable though is ‘practice’. It is wise to hear his words and put them into practice. The foolish builder hears the message and responds; but his response is not to put into practice that which he has heard. He instead goes about doing things his own way. The wise builder hears the message and acts upon them, doing what has been spoken heard.
The reason they are wise is they do exactly what they have heard, that is their starting point and it sets them off on the right path. The foolish builder choses to ignore this wisdom and relay on their own understanding and this sets them up to fail.