As Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) he offers some practical advice concerning his teachings. He says that anyone who hears his words and does them is like a wise man that built his house on a rock. Do we all know what happens next? The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, but the house did not move. To not heed the word of Jesus is to be the foolish man who build his house on the sand; great was the fall of it.
The warning is very clear. As Jesus comes to the end of his message, he implores his listeners to put the teachings into practice. He advocates using these specific teachings (including the Model Prayer and Golden Rule) as a foundation on which to build. If you start with an iffy foundation, it doesn’t matter how well built the rest of your project is. Just look at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. So it is with constructing our spiritual building. In John MacArthur’s commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, he says that the Beatitudes are a future promise to the one who lives righteously. The rest of the passage is about just how to do that. So then, Jesus makes a promise, gives instruction on how to obtain it, and reminds us at the end that we had better have been listening. His closing remarks are another way of saying to be doers of the word, not hearers only.
Notice the parallels that Peter makes in 1 Peter 2. He includes two quotes from Isaiah and one from the Psalms, all of them about God laying a foundation in Zion and choosing a precious stone that the builders rejected. Peter makes it clear that Jesus is the precious stone of God’s choosing, a sure foundation, and that the Jewish leaders rejected him as they were destined to do. But for those of us who believe, we are putting up spiritual buildings on the same precious and sure foundation. We are building the Kingdom, and Jesus is the cornerstone on which it all rests.
Follow me here. In Matthew 7, Jesus is advising his followers to heed his message for their own sake. To receive the promise of the Beatitudes, to ensure a personal place in the kingdom on the day of judgement, we must hear and practice his teachings. Peter, in the age of grace and writing to the Church, is talking about building the kingdom. Jesus, during his earthly ministry, is speaking to the individual. Peter is talking about how each individual is building the body of Christ and doing the work of the coming Kingdom.
Today we continue to labor toward that kingdom made up of every tribe, every tongue and every nation. That’s the “Israel of God” that Paul mentions in Galatians 6, not a political nation but God’s spiritual promise to Abraham. That sounds like a whole other post.