Luke 6:43-49: A Firm Foundation
June 24, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
As Jesus comes to the end of his famous sermon, he uses two illustrations to make two practical and profound concluding exhortations.
First, he explains how it is that we are to obey Jesus without obedience itself being the defining characteristic, in a legalistic sense, of what it means to follow God. The answer is that in our essence, as a new creation, we become the kind of tree that bears good fruit. We now want to obey Jesus because we have been changed into the kind of people who do want to follow Jesus.
Additionally, this means that we can discern who truly is a follower of Jesus by this same token. It does not mean that our “fruit” has to be perfect; Jesus does not say that a good tree bears perfect fruit. Even the fruit of godly people is tarnished with various blemishes and inadequacies of one kind or another. But there is still fruit.
If we are a follower of Jesus, we will have fruit to show it. We will speak of Jesus. We will want to be with Jesus’ people. We will pray to Jesus and develop a relationship with Jesus. We will want to hear from Jesus and so read Jesus’ Word. This is the kind of fruit that a “good” tree, a person that has received God’s Spirit and been transformed into a new nature, continues to bear and produce, however imperfectly, throughout their lives.
His second concluding exhortation is based upon an equally brilliant picture. This time he is not using the agrarian metaphor of a tree bearing fruit, but the architectural metaphor of a house and its foundation. There is no point saying “Lord, Lord” but not actually doing what Jesus says. If we claim that Jesus is Lord, we will seek to do what he says; otherwise, he is not really our Lord.
The person who hears Jesus’ teaching and obeys it, then, is like a person who builds a house on a strong foundation (“laid the foundation on the rock”). When there is a storm, and when the ultimate storm of God’s judgment comes, the house of their lives will stand firm because they have built their lives upon a solid foundation. However, the person who merely hears Jesus’ words but does not put them into practice is like a person who builds a house on a poor foundation. Outwardly the two houses may look very similar, but if you could peer beneath the earth to the foundation, you would notice a major difference. The foundation is really nonexistent, and so when the storm comes, the house falls down, “and the ruin of that house was great.”
The application of this section of the sermon is obvious. Do what Jesus says. It is not enough to become an expert in the teaching of Jesus. It is not enough to know the Bible well. It is not enough to read devotionals about Jesus. We are called to actually—in the power of the Spirit, with evident failings, and continual need for confession, repentance and starting again—put into practice what Jesus says.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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