- Sermon Notes
Building on the Rock
We have been studying the longest recorded sermon that Jesus ever gave called the Sermon on the Mount. This was very early in his ministry. He had settled in the town of Capernaum at the north end of the Sea of Galilee and a large multitude of people had gathered around Him because of the great miracles and demonstration of God's power that He had done in the people.
He sat down and taught them about the life that is transformed by God. He spoke of what happens in the heart as of first and foremost importance in our lives.
This was radically different than anything they had ever heard before. They had been taught by the religious leaders of the day that had spoken to them about outwardly conforming to religion; that if a person wanted to enter into the kingdom, then it was about the do's and don'ts of the Law.
In this great sermon he spoke to them about the attitude of the heart; "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." He talked to them about the kingdom of heaven making a difference on this earth because He was sending them out as light to the world, a city set upon a hill, that their light would shine before men in such a way that the world would see their lives and glorify their Father in heaven.
Jesus taught them about their relationship to the stuff of the world, that they should lay up for themselves treasures in heaven rather than on the Earth. He taught them not to be anxious in life, but to increase in faith by seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Jesus taught them not to look down upon others with a condemning and critical heart, but that they should look to represent God's heart of grace.
Jesus spoke to them about their relationship to God. He taught them that this was building their lives upon the rock. Difficult times will come; floods will come, winds will blow against our lives, yet their lives would be strong when it had been founded upon the rock.
He begins by talking to them again about prayer. This is the third time in this sermon that he's mentioned prayer. He spoke of prayer in Chapter 6 "don't pray in order to be seen by men… Do not use meaningless repetition… Pray, then, in this way, “Our Father who art in heaven…”
I. Ask, Seek, Knock
- We see in these verses a progressive intensity from asking to seeking to knocking.
- It's also important for us to understand that the literal translation would be, "Keep asking and keep seeking and keep knocking."
- It's also important for us to understand that God is the one who is giving us this instruction. "I want you to ask, I want you to seek; I want you to knock."
A. We need to ask
- It's interesting that you see the same words used in God's relationship toward us.
- We looked at the verse last week that speaks about God asking us to be reconciled to him.
2 Corinthians 5:20, Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
- Jesus also said that he came seeking.
Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
- We also see that Jesus came knocking on the door of our heart.
Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
- To keep asking, and seeking, and knocking suggests that we need more faith to trust the timing of the Lord’s answer. We’re not very good at this because we live in a culture that prides itself on efficiency and we want God to answer our prayers right away or we become impatient.
Illus – If there are more than three cars for the drive-through window, we become impatient. We have to have the shortest lane in heavy traffic. (Invariably, no matter which lane I choose it becomes the slowest.)
We want the fastest computers because we want instant answers. My first computer took several minutes to do a Bible search and I remember complaining about that, but imagine the time required to do that by hand.
- To keep asking and seeking and knocking is to understand persistence in prayer. Two things are certain about prayer. First, and we see this from the context here, that he gives us what is good.
- Therefore, we can also conclude that he won't get us what is not good for us.
James 4:2-3, You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
- We can ask for what is not good and even if we ask with great persistence God will say no.
Illus - I remember walking through a grocery store with Jordi and we saw a mother and her young child having a dispute over some cookies. “Put them back,” the mother said. “No, I won't,” the child responded. This went back and forth without an end in sight. “The kid will win,” I whispered to Jordi.
- Waiting on the Lord means that we wait in the faith that God will do that which is good.
James 1:17, Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
B. God takes your prayers seriously
- In verse 8, Jesus said that everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds. And then he used a humorous illustration to make His point.
- “If a son asked his father for a loaf of bread, would he give him a stone? Or if he asked for a fish, would he give him a snake?” And the answer is, of course not.
- Then He says again, “How much more shall your Father in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
- He is your Father, He hears you when you pray, and He takes your prayers seriously.
- Wait for the Lord in all patience and know that God is working in your behalf…
Luke 18:1,8 Now He was telling them the parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart… “When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?”
Psalm 127:2, It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even while he sleeps.
Illus - I remember reading a book by Alexander Solzhenitsyn about the years he spent in the Russian gulags. The suffering was so great that it reduced him to a state of despair. Finally, one day he decided to give up… Then a skinny old prisoner sat down beside him and drew a cross in the dirt…
C. Therefore change what you do unto others
- This of course is the famous “Golden Rule” that we have heard many times.
- First, it's important to understand that he is speaking here to his disciples, to those who are saved. He is not teaching them that this is the way to find salvation, but that it is a result of their relationship to God.
- It follows immediately after Jesus taught them about their relationship to God in prayer, but in many ways it's a summary of the entire Sermon on the Mount.
- If the beatitudes are in your heart, if you have a genuine and personal relationship to God in prayer, then it will also change how you treat those who are around you.
Matthew 22:39, “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
- Some have tried to suggest that this saying is not original with Jesus. And it is certainly true that many have said something similar. Hillel, Confucius, Hindu writers, Socrates, and Roman Stoics all said something similar, but they each said it in the negative, “If you don't want someone doing this to you, then don't do it unto him.”
- But Jesus said it in the positive, in a proactive sense, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.”
- Jesus then said something amazing; this saying not only summarizes the Sermon on the Mount, it also summarizes the entire Law and the Prophets; the entire Old Testament.
Exodus 23:4-5, “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.”
- Why should you do this? To get others to do good things for you? No, because of your relationship to God, because He has changed your heart, because this fulfills the entire Word of God; because it represents God's heart.
- Imagine how powerful this verse is! This one sentence can transform the world! Imagine if everyone did this; there would be no more crime, or murder, or hatred, or robbery, or assault, or road rage. There would be no more adultery, or divorce, or child abuse, or oppression, or jealousy, or envy, or anger, or starvation, or church splits or conflicts.
- We agree with this verse and we admire it, but do we take it seriously? We want God to take our prayers seriously, how much more does God want us to take His Word seriously.
II. There are Two Gates and Two Paths
- The last words that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount have become difficult for some to hear.
- But these words of Jesus are very important for us to understand and apply to our lives as well.
- That are only two paths; choose which you will live your life.
A. Jesus is the path that leads to life
- There are two gates and two paths; one leads to life and the other leads to destruction. Jesus is the narrow gate and the narrow way.
John 10:7- 17 Jesus is the doorway to life
- In another place He said something similar.
John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
- Jesus said that He was the narrow gate and the narrow way and few are those that find it. That statement most definitely runs counter to our culture in which we live. The world says we should be all-inclusive and tolerant of every doctrine and every belief. But what if what they believe is wrong?
- That’s why Jesus then said, “Beware of false prophets.” You will know them by their fruit.
- Verse 21: we enter into the kingdom of heaven by doing the will of the Father. What is God's will? That we receive forgiveness by the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ.
- Verse 24, the one who hears these words and acts upon them is a wise man building his house upon the rock.
- By going through the narrow gate and walking the narrow path that leads to life, you will find that you have built your life so that you will persevere through the storms and tribulations that life brings.
- It then says that the crowd was amazed at his teaching because he had such authority.
- If He has authority in your life, then will you also build your life upon the words that He is giving us here in this sermon?
Matthew 7:7-29 NASB