Series: Matthew: We Need a King

Choose a Side, Pt. 4

May 30, 2021 | Jeff Crotts

Passage: Matthew 7:24-29

These verses are Jesus’ conclusion to his sermon. 

  • A theme emerges in Jesus’ final thoughts, he is pressing home.


  • The Bible leaves no room for middle of the road Christianity.
    • Either a believer or not a believer.
    • Christianity is binary.

Either, inside or outside the fellowship.

ESV  Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God

ESV  1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Worshippers and Consumers.  

Jesus’ final statements make this point over the over again. 

  • Jesus cuts to a decision point. 
  • Current culture begs this. 
  • Burden to declare a side. 
Siding with Jesus in five ways.
1. Love like Jesus

 By how someone loves (v. 12).

 2. Lead to Jesus 
  • In terms of how someone leads (vv. 13-14).
  • To Christ or to the world.
 3. Learn from Jesus

 By how someone learns (vv. 15-20).

  • Discerning truth from error.
 4. Live for Jesus
  •  By how someone lives (vv. 21-23).
  • A true relationship or living a lie.
  • To live for Jesus is to know Jesus.
 5. Listen to Jesus [Read vv. 24-27]
  •  Jesus draws the line by whether someone will listen or not (vv. 24-27).
  • Between those who heed Christ’s warning or those who ignore it.
    • Hearing is saving, ignoring is damning.
    • You either heed Christ’s warning or you do not heed Christ’s warning.

This is about being spared from tragedy.

Tragedies happen all the time; people suddenly die. 

  • Doing yard work, looking at my house, I was struck remembering 5 years ago we had a 7.2 earthquake.
    • Viewing my home across my backyard reminded me how it felt to be inside.
      • Quaking, rolling, feeling like on the high seas, wondering when/if it would stop.
      • After a minute, wondering if our house was going to hold together.
      • Relieved when it stopped and to hear that no one died.


  • By contrast, in 2010 the Port-au-Prince 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti with devastating results.
    • Death toll estimates 150,000 and 300,00 died from this.
    • Counts depend on how you count by geography.


  • Why so many died there as opposed to here has to do with population density and building construction.
    • AK earthquake of 1964, a 9.4, killed 115 and another 16 between Oregon and California.
      • Construction was significantly beefed up.
      • Haitians were vulnerable, homes made of concrete without rebar.
        • Rock and sand with no rebar, melting and killing most everyone inside.

“Why did this happen to Haitians and not Alaskans?” 

  • Because we are any better off, more prepared, or skilled?
    • Not really.
    • A larger earthquake (10.4), could have leveled everyone’s home.
    • Or a much smaller quake could have struck Haiti in 2010.
  •  Haitians are not known for being Christians?
    • They are known for Haitian Vodou (“Voodoo”).
      • Synchronized Roman Catholicism and spiritism.
      • Tribal slaves from West Africa combined this with what RCC missionaries taught.


  • Praying to God and the “spirits” (health, justice, and favor).


  • “Did God judge Haiti?”
    • False religion compared to Christian religion.
    • A lot of people take this viewpoint.


  • Racism and violence is regularly in the news.
    • People shot by random violence and vicious murders.
    • Tempting to think, “This would never happen to me, I am too godly.”


  • God has given me the wisdom to not fall prey to this kind of thing.
    • God will protect me.
    • I’m his child.

I argue Jesus teaches no one is exempt from sudden tragedy. 

  • Whether someone practicing Voodoo.
  • Or a children’s Sunday school teacher in the safest community on earth.

 This text unpacks a kind of pride that creates a façade of safety.

  • Believing we are better than other people whom God allows tragedy to strike.

“That would never happen to me; I am not nearly as sinful as they are.”  

  • Building your life on “sand” is “sand is self-righteousness.”
  • Whether you heed Christ’s warning or not.
  • “Will you listen?”

You will either listen to Jesus or not.

Christianity is binary. 

  • Either a hearer/doer of the Word or not.
  • Either a full Christian or not at all.

 Part 4 

1. Everyone who listens (vv. 24-25)

I love this word, “Everyone” as it captures the wideness of God’s mercy and grace. 

  • Jesus calls “everyone” to build on the rock.
  • Jesus desires to carry “everyone” to eternity with him.
  • Build on him!


“What does that look like?” 

  • Hearing the message Jesus has been saying is key.
    • “Hearing the whole Sermon!”
    • Everything comes down to a changed heart.

Making Jesus’ sermon into Christianity 2.0 misses this.

  • A raised moral standard will leave you hopeless.
    • Deeper than murder; it is hating.
    • Deeper than adultery; it is lust.
    • No solution is devastating.


  • Only devastating when you believe you must dig your way out of the hole Christ has put you in.

Jesus does not leave it there; He devastates so you will not try to save yourself. 

  • Proves you cannot save yourself.
    • The way up is down.
    • Bowing to God’s grace alone to save.


  • Your house built on the rock is saying “I need a Savior.”
    • And the Messiah is not me!
    • Someone who comes to this resolve “has ears to hear” and is “a wise man” (v. 24).


  • Life change.
  • Measurable fruit from someone who hears.

Remember when Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” 

ESV  Matthew 16:13-18 aNow when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"14 And they said, "Some say aJohn the Baptist, others say bElijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"16 Simon Peter replied, a"You are bthe Christ, cthe Son of dthe living God."17 And Jesus answered him, a"Blessed are you, bSimon Bar-Jonah! For cflesh and blood has not revealed this to you, dbut my Father who is in heaven.18 And I tell you, ayou are Peter, and bon this rock1 I will build my church, and cthe gates of dhell2 shall not prevail against it.


  • Jesus names Simon when they first, Cephas which in Aramaic means “rock” or “stone.”
  • Foreshadowing Peter’s confession!


ESV  John 1:42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "So you are Simon the son of aJohn? You shall be called bCephas" (which means cPeter1).


Here again from Matthew’s account, Jesus names him “Peter.”


  • More of a title/statement regarding Peter’s confession.


  • Peter’s confession was from the illuminating work of the Spirit in his heart.
    • A spiritual confession.
    • Evidence of a transformed heart.


  • Peter was listening, a hearer of the Word by the Spirit.
    • The church built on this confession.
    • Not even the gates of hell can prevail against this confession!


Back to Jesus’ description in Matthew 7:25.


 The “rain fell, and the floods came” meaning this will not be a light rain. 

  • A torrential storm.
  • Water backing up rivers undermining the foundation threatening a home.


When rain turns to flooding in Southern California, entire homes built off scenic cliffs slide down the front of the mountain. 


Homes built on stilts on the Outer Banks of North Carolina during a North Easterner will be set a house to sea, like a boat that was accidentally unmoored. 


The “winds blew and beat” literally strike blows upon the “house” (v. 25). 


  • But nothing happens because a solid foundation will stand up to anything.


A pastor colleague in Arkansas had cracks in his drywall. 


  • They were symptomatic of compromised foundation where he did not have sufficient water runoff.  
    • His home had resettled.
    • Hired a company to sunk piers into the ground around the home.
    • Pumped it up; he dug French drains, redirected water.


A house built on rock is [Themeliow] “established.” 


  • Indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  • Christ’s righteousness, not their own to save them.


 2. Everyone who will not listen (vv. 26-27)

Jesus again says “everyone” (v. 26).

  • No one is exempt from this warning.
    • Everyone can trust Grace or Self.
    • The cost of either decision is dramatic.

These “words” represent the point of this Sermon. 

  • Never enough to “hear”
  • Never enough to say you believe this truth.

Auditory hearing with no “doing” is like ingesting small amounts of poison.

  • Over time, your system is found to be septic.
  • You must hear but hear by faith.
  • Having ears to hear and a heart that believes.

 The person who “does not do…” (v. 26). 

You do not truly have “ears to hear if you do nothing by what you hear.”

ESV  Isaiah 6:8-10 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for aus?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."9 And he said, "Go, and say to this people: a"'Keep on hearing,1 but do not understand; keep on seeing,2 but do not perceive.'

10 aMake the heart of this people bdull,1 and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; clest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."


ESV  James 1:22 But be adoers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.


ESV  James 2:19 aYou believe that God is one; you do well. Even bthe demons believe--and shudder! 

  • Someone who “hears” and then “builds his house on sand” is in serious trouble!
  •  “Sand” is self-righteousness.
    • Appears good on the outside.
    • But silty and unstable.

Growing up on the East Coast, there is something called hurricane season. 

  • The big difference between an earthquake, tornado and a hurricane is the weather channel gives you a lot of lead time to evacuate to safety.
    • Unlike a Tornado, Volcano, Tsunami.
    • A hurricane develops and approaches.

Remember seeing on the weather channel; people ignoring the National Guard and Red Cross, mobilizing evacuations. 

  • People would not leave.
  • Greeting them, beer in hand, saying, “Welcome to the Hurricane Party.”

Another place we lived was in Tornado Alley. 

  • First month, Judy and I arrived in Little Rock, 26 tornadoes, on one night, all touched down.
    • Sitting in the hallway with mattresses all around us.
    • WW2 sounding alarms, rang out all night.
    • Homes ripped in half.
    • A warzone.


  • Years later, a family we knew had their home and lives in an instant, ripped apart.
    • A husband and wife lived had 9 children.
      • Husband sacrificed himself pushing his family into their safe room.
      • Pushing them under their stairs, he and two girls were swept away.


  • Found lifeless in the rubble.


  • The rest were kept safe by the shelter.


  • The difference of life and death in outcomes was dramatic.


  • Tragedy is no respecter of persons.


  • Likewise, God’s judgment is does not discriminate.   


Ignoring this reality is a dangerous brand of self-righteousness.

  • In Luke 13:1-5 Jesus exposes the depth of this kind of misguided self-righteousness.
     a. There was some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

We have no historical record for this event, but this tragedy was well-known during Jesus’ day. 

  • This news report smacks like hearing another school shooting!
  • Or church shooting.
  • These shooters were Roman military.

The Galileans were Zealots sacrificing (perceived) as a matter of protest. 

  • Against Pilate.
    • Pilate slaughters them onsite, inside their temple.
    • Considered by Jews as blasphemy.
    • The people brought this up to see what Jesus would say.
      • Siding for or against
      • Siding for or against these
      • Either appearing wrong.   

 Like Job’s counselors, they offered Jesus one option; judgment. 

  • Jesus takes a third position for why this happened.
     b. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

Jesus holds up the mirror, asking this question. 

  • Jesus asks:

“Who are you to judge?”

“Do you believe you are better off than the Galileans?” 

“Any less sinful than they were?” 

     c. No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.


Jesus turns the tables calling them to repent. 


  • Takes them off guard.
  • Trying to see how Jesus would respond.
  • Not expecting, how they should respond.


Human nature retreats to a façade of, “self-protection” by judging others.


“Tragedies like this would never happen to me because I am not like them!” 


  • A foolish form of “control” that is out of control.
    • As gruesome as coldblooded murder is; it is also a warning.
      • God’s judgment may appear to be unjust.
      • God’s judgment is no respecter of persons.
      • God’s judgement is no respecter of places.


  • The caution is simple: “Do not judge them, judge yourself!”


     d. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?


Jesus ups the ante taking up an equally known event but this time with no malice. 


  • Called, “An act of God” when people die suddenly and inexplicably.


The tower of Siloam, located SW Jerusalem, nearby, was a functional watchtower “lookout” over their aqueduct system which served the city. 


  • Tower must have fallen (Earthquake? Faulty construction?) killing all inside and underneath.
    • In a vapor.
    • God is no respecter of persons.


Jesus raises the same question, with a deeper dig inside the heart. 


  • So, what do you say about these people who died just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
    • Are you better than them?
    • Are you above something like this happening to you?
    • Jesus says not at all.


  • Quick and sudden tragedy is just that, tragic!
    • Something sudden, like this, is coming.
    • But this will be infinitely worse.
    • Towers fall, God’s judgment will fall.


  • “Judge yourself, not others!”


Whether 911 --- Loches breaking in New Orleans --- Tsunamis’ mopping away millions off the coastland of Japan or Thailand,


Physical death speaks to the greater concern.


“Why did they die they go?”  more  “Where did they go?”    


ESV  Matthew 10:28 And ado not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him bwho can destroy both soul and body in hell.1


 John 9 is set in the same area of Siloam. 


Reviewing the story.


  • In this story the Pharisees make a pivotal statement against the man healed of blindness!


ESV  John 9:34 They answered him, a”You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they bcast him out. (Joh 9:34 ESV)


  • The epitome of “Sand-Speak” is self-righteousness.


ESV  John 9:24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, a"Give glory to God. We know that bthis man is a sinner." (Joh 9:24 ESV)


  • Same verbiage by Joshua’s confrontation against Achan battle of Ai.


One finale contrast between Worshipper and Consumer is found in verse 28-29.


Could not be more stark than by how the crowds responded to Jesus’ sermon. 


  • “Did they listen?”
    • They were “astonished at his teaching” (v. 28).
    • They made the right diagnosis between “Jesus and the scribes.”
      • Jesus taught with authority.
      • Scribes did not!


  • This is the right place to start!


  • Being “Astonished” by Jesus, will not save you.


Jesus brings gravity and reality. 


  • He is Truth.


  • He spoke Truth.


  • Every other claim for salvation is always superficial.


  • Concrete with no rebar that in the judgment will only melt.


The 7.2 raised the question, “Will my house would stand or fall?” 


  • It had a good foundation.
  • Not everyone’s house did.
  • How heaven will be for you.?


Judgment is coming. 


  • Is your foundation, Rock, or sand?


  • This determines whether you will stand or fall.


  • When God’s raging storm comes.



READ: Psalm 1


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Series Information

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