Text: Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:47-49
Title: Builders and Sand
I. It wouldn’t surprise us that sand would be used by teachers to make a point. It is a
universal material in many different cultures and its characteristics would be well
A. There is a parable that I mentioned from Buddhism early in this series about sand
B. Buddha’s story begins with children at a shore. They begin to build sand buildings.
One boy disturbs another’s castle and the children together punish him. They
continue to play. Each child says concerning his or her own building, “This castle is
mine.” This goes on until the late afternoon approaches. As the sun is setting and
the children realize they are going home, they lose interest in their sand buildings.
One kicks his over. Another simply swipes his castle with his arm. Others also stamp
and destroy their castles.
1. Buddha’s story has a different focus than that of Jesus. It is a story about the
transient, the temporary; and how we can become too preoccupied with what is
temporal even to the point of injuring others, as the children gang up on one child
and hurt him.
2. The odd thing is they hurt the child for something they will all do later anyway;
the destruction of the buildings they so valued. According to Buddha, we value
things, but can also throw them away in a moment. What we consider valuable at
one point, may not be so later when compared to what we consider important, as
the children leaving their sand castles for their real homes and families.
c. In ancient Judaism, a rabbi a number of years after Jesus, uses similar imagery in
teaching. Elisha ben Abuijah: A man that has good works and learns the law much,
to what is he like? To a man that "builds with stones below", and afterwards with
bricks; and though "many waters arrive", and stand at their side, they cannot remove
them out of their place; but a man who hath no good works, and learns the law, to
what is he like? To a man that "builds with bricks first", and afterwards with stones;
and though few waters flow, they immediately overturn them.'
(1.) Clarke: Rabbi Eleasar said, "The man whose knowledge exceeds his works, to
whom is he like? He is like a tree which had many branches, and only a few
roots; and, when the stormy winds came, it was plucked up and eradicated. But
he whose good works are greater than his knowledge, to what is he like? He is
like a tree which had few branches, and many roots; so that all the winds of
heaven could not move it from its place."
II. Jesus’ story has a different focus from both Buddha and Elisha ben Abu-ijha.
A. Scholars make the point that Jesus talks about his own words in a way that seems
more authoritative than the Jewish teachers of the law. He says, “these words of
mine”. Jesus is claiming a high status of authority.
B. Unlike Buddha, who warns about over-valuing the temporary, Jesus’ stress is on
1. This isn’t one of the kingdom of heaven parables, but one that speaks about earthly experiences: building a house.
a. Jesus, being a carpenter, uses his own biographical past to illustrate the
following of his teaching. For he not only says, “He who hears my words”,
but also “and acts upon them”. In the KJV “doeth them”.
(1.) The Greek word for action is the term that means the creation of a
product; action that results in an attained result.
2. It is therefore no surprise that Jesus would use a house to describe the affects
of his teaching.
a. A house is not only a completed product, but a residence, a place were we
live and live the most authentically.
(1.) Following Jesus helps to build a life.
3. Jesus also touches another nerve. Where do we wish to be when facing trials?
What is that place wherein we find solace in time of misfortune: the home. In
the parable, the symbol for comfort and solace (at least for one person) is
C. Is there a location Jesus has in mind with the parable?
1. One scholar writes that we are possibly dealing with alluvial sand located in
Bethsaida. Alluvial sand is a sand with a hard texture, far different than the
sand we would find at the ocean fronts. This sand would have been tempting to
accept as good enough for a foundation without digging.
a. Why would the builder do something like that? We have to remember that
Jesus has named the builder as foolish, despite his skills.
b. Spurgeon: “These two builders seem to have been equally well skilled in
architecture. The one could build a house without receiving any more
instruction than the other. I do not find that there was halt or pause on the part
. SERMON PAGE ONE