A Tale of Two Castles
Illustration: The Three Little Pigs – The tale is about three pigs and a wolf. Each pig chooses to build his house with a different set of materials. The first builds his house with straw – it’s quick, leaving him time to play. The second builds his house with sticks – it too is quick, leaving him time to play. The third pig builds his house with bricks – it’s more expensive and time consuming, but this pig sees the bigger picture and deems the materials and the time worth his while.
The wolf is out to eat the pigs. As he approaches each house, he tells the pig to let him in, or he will “huff and puff and blow the house in.” The straw house blows away, sending the first pig running to his brother’s house of sticks. The wolf huffs and puffs and blows the stick house away, sending the two pigs to their other brother’s house. The wolf huffs and puffs and huffs and puffs, but the brick house stands firm. The pigs are safe.
It’s an old story, first seen in print in the 1840’s. It’s believed to be much older than that. But it’s not original. You see the principal of the story goes back to Jesus. His story is about foundations rather than the materials to build with, and His wolf is the storms of life. Follow along as I read the passage for today, Matthew 7:24-29.
Text: 24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and its collapse was great.”
28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”
Castles of Sand (vs. 26-27) – If you’ve ever been to the beach, you’ve more than likely seen a sandcastle. If you go back the following day, it’s probably gone. Why? It’s loose and weak. The sandcastle built too close to the ocean falls prey to the waves, which either lap gently upon the shoreline or crash mightily upon the beach. The sandcastle built a few yards from the shoreline gets trampled under the feet of passersby. And the sandcastle built safely away from the shore and the joggers, still gets blown to and fro by the winds. It’s the nature of sandcastles. They’re just not meant to last.
But oh, how much fun it is to build one. How beautiful they look to the child who builds one. The go up in mere minutes. We’ve even seen sand sculptures built on the beach, but they too fall victim to the elements and to time. Jesus says, “26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and its collapse was great.”
“These word of Mine” – We’ve just wrapped up the entire Sermon on the Mount. Everything Jesus taught the crowd is in play here. All the words He spoke, the lessons He taught, the illustrations He made were given to make them understand the critical choice He was giving: light or darkness / life or death. To those who hear but do not act appropriately, the dark consequences await. In the passage following our text for today, Jesus says, “‘Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter’” (Matthew 7:21). Hearing and knowing will not save you; believing and doing will. Our actions are the fruits of our beliefs. He who hears and does not act, really doesn’t believe what he is hearing.
Jesus compares the person who hears His word but does not act appropriately to “a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” Well, I’ve already talked about sandcastles. Imagine building your house on that sand. It moves at the will of water, wind, and a child’s hand. Would you risk your home on that kind of foundation? Of course not. Because you know it will fail and fall. This person is like the first two pigs. They don’t spend much time building a solid house because they don’t expect anything to happen. They build with the cheaper materials and construct the easier house so that they have plenty of time to play and frolic. These people and pigs live in the now with little to no thought of the future. So, it is with their eternal lives.
Jesus instructs us that the consequences are clear for such people. He said, “the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and its collapse was great.” People who do not prepare for storms fall victim to them. Storms come. Floods rise. Winds blow. Of course, that is true literally, but Jesus is speaking metaphorically here…He’s teaching a spiritual lesson. Just as the house built on sand falls when the rans, floods, and winds come, the life built on worldly things, on faith in anything other than Jesus, will crumble. The collapse will be great.
Like those outside of the Ark, they will perish. Why? Because they heard the warnings…they were given the truth, and they still refused to act accordingly. Jesus came, He lived, He died, and He rose again. He offered life by offering Himself, and they still chose to reject Him. But there is good news. To those who hear these lessons and these truths and act accordingly, there is life. They build…
Castles of Stone (vs. 24-25) – Speaking of these people, Jesus said, “everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” Hearing the words of Jesus and accepting them for the truth that they are and then acting upon them is like a Castle of Stone.
Throughout Europe the landscaped is dotted with castles of old…castles made of stone…castles that have stood the test of time. They’ve survived the storms of life for centuries. These castles represent the life built upon rock. We’re in the process of building a swimming pool, and let me tell you, it’s expensive and time consuming to build on a hill of rock. But that ground is solid and will remain so. It’s easy to be saved. Jesus paid the price for our sins…a price that demanded death…His death.
But as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian, wrote: Discipleship costs everything. Allowing Jesus to be Lord of your life means you surrender your personal rights to Him. He is the Rock upon which the life a believer is built. “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and other, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:13-18).
Let clear one thing up. Peter, even though that means “rock,” is NOT the rock upon which the church is built. Yes, he was a disciple and an apostle. The Rock is the statement he made, that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Believe in Him and you will have life. Believe in Jesus and you will be saved. Believe in Jesus and He will change your life. Believe in Jesus, place your faith in Him, and the rains, winds, and storms of life will not overcome you. Build your life upon Jesus and you will not fall.
In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul spoke of Jesus, saying, “He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:17-22).
Even David, who may not have completely understood God’s revelation to him at the time, penned these words: “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD; the righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to You, for Your have answered me, and You have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:19-23).
Using that passage from Psalms, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, added, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the ONLY way to be saved and to live eternally in heaven with God our Father. Sure, you can build your life on other things…on other religions…on other beliefs, but know this: these are false foundations…foundations of sand…they are sandcastles. Anything other than Jesus will fail you and the collapse will be terrible and permanent. Like the first two pigs, the wolf (Satan) will blow your house down.
Believer, listen closely. You must continue to build your life as God demands. According to Paul, we must continue to build “on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” That’s what the first century church did, and that’s why they experienced exponential growth…daily growth.
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42,47). This kind of believer…this kind of church…can stand the storms of life. Build your life upon the foundation of Jesus, His words, the teachings of the apostles, and you will stand firm.
Your Choice – Today, you have a choice. You can build upon Jesus and His words of truth, or you can let the world tickle your ears with pleasurable things. You can build with the materials of faith, obedience, and good works, or you can devote yourself to selfish and worldly things. You can either please God or you can please the world, but do not be fooled. Each choice has a consequence. Don’t take my word for it; take the words of Jesus.
Will you be like His original audience? “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” What about you? Do you stand amazed, or are you unimpressed with His teaching? The little pig who built on a solid foundation, who took the time to build with bricks, could rest confidently when the wolf came to his door. Why? Because he had no doubt his house would stand against all the huffing and puffing the wolf could do. Don’t build sandcastles that crumble. Build stone castles that stand.
Will you trust and obey?