Closing the Message
Closing the Message
Words of Faith 5-8-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><
 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?  I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.  He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."
Now comes the closing of the Sermon on the Plain. In modern terms, we might call it "The invitation" or "The Parting Challenge." The question posed? What are you going to do? How will you respond? Jesus was much more direct.
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" Then He gave an example from the world of construction.
When we think of Jesus growing up we think of a quaint little carpentry shop in Nazareth. Something like "Joseph's House of Wood Creations." Inside, we imagine Joseph and Jesus lovingly crafting things out of wood. What things? Well. .. wooden things. Perhaps yokes for beasts of burden.
The problem is that there was not that much carpentry work to do. Recent scholarship and archeology suggests that, while Jesus may have worked with wood, he probably spent a great deal of his time working with stone. The word for carpenter is the same as the word for "stone cutter". In the last thirty years, archeologists have unearthed the Roman city of Sepphorris-- a city large enough to have a hippodrome and the palace of Herod Antipas. Near Nazareth, this Roman city was built during the lifetime of Jesus. Jesus almost certainly spent some time here because Joanna the wife of Cuza-- the manager of Herod Antipas' household became a follower of Jesus and helped to finance his journeys and ministry. It is highly probable that Jesus and Joseph made a living working in construction of this Roman city.
So Jesus knew a lot about building construction. Recent discoveries indicate that Jesus grew up within walking distance of a huge Roman construction project called Sepphoris and probably worked there with His step-father, Joseph. It is likely that Jesus had seen both good and shoddy construction. He had likely seen the slipshod efforts of builders who failed to set the foundation properly. He had seen what happens to a house when stone is laid on firm flat ground without digging down to the bedrock. It was difficult and time consuming to do it right. It took a commitment. But failure to set the foundation-- lay the walls deep on footers dug down to the bedrock-- would lead to a disaster.
That was precisely the picture Jesus used to close his sermon. He had preached about the meaning and pursuit of life, about how to respond when oppressed, about how to respond when wounded and even the significance of the words that come from our mouths. But none of that means anything... if you don't respond. If you HEAR and then do not respond, it says something powerful about the relationship, the foundation of things.
Jesus knew how easy it was to listen to a good sermon, nod graciously and then walk away. His closing was powerful and pointed. "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" Why do you gather in crowds, honor me with kind words and thoughts, but... when it really comes down to it, you just go on the way you were without change or repentance. No action.
If you are going to be like that... don't call me "Lord". Call me something else. Call me Jesus. Call me Rabbi. Call me anything but don't call me Lord unless you mean it. "Lord" means you are serious about your relationship with me. It means you are surrendering. It means you trust me. It means you are finally convinced that your way is not as wise as mine. It means that you have finally decided that you are no longer your own god, your own center of the universe or your own ruler and master, and that things will be better handled by your creator.
I think Jesus had a pretty good way of sizing up people. People came to him all the time. Some came with flattery, others in crises, others sincerely seeking. Nicodemus came at night so as not to be seen. How do you think that made Jesus feel? ‘I really like you... but I don't want to be seen by my friends here.’ Oh thanks. Big commitment here. Jesus let him know. You need to start all over. That old life is not worth the cover of darkness. You need to be born again.
Or how about when Jesus encountered the woman at the well who was bleeding to death emotionally in her loneliness? She kept trying to argue religion with Jesus. Jesus said, let's get down to it. You have been trying to fill a deep thirst with illicit affairs. I can give you the water of everlasting life.
Or do you remember the rich young ruler came and said I want eternal life but I want to keep my stuff? You are all I need but I do want to keep this stuff. You can have me but I am just going to hang onto my stuff. The rich young man came ingratiating "Good Teacher..." But Jesus saw right through it. Don't flatter me-. No one is good but God. Cut the "stuff".
Remember the man who wanted to follow Jesus but said, first let me take care of a few things. Let me check on this or that. Jesus said that is not how it works. People wanted to call Jesus LORD but on their own terms. They wanted to call Jesus Lord but with certain caveats and restrictions.
I think Jesus was saying that Lordship is really very simple. You do what I say. You want a partnership? You will have to make it with the devil who gladly makes partnership. But with the Lord Your God you are not on the Board of Directors. You cannot negotiate a plan. You either build your life the way I say or it will fall apart.
That was when Jesus used this example from his construction experience. Unless you have dug down to the bedrock of LORDSHIP. Unless you have listened and obeyed. Unless you hear and do the will of your Father in heaven, your spiritual hut is only as good as the next strong storm. Unless you have clarified who is in charge of your life you are not going to survive the next rough time that comes your way.
There is no such thing as "qualified Lordship". No partial commitment. There is no such thing as Lordship with this exception and that caveat. This restriction and that condition. This stipulation and that qualification. There is no fine print. No "Lord I will follow you but there is this one constraint, one provision, one prerequisite." Jesus says, STOP! Don't use the word "Lord" with all that stuff.
The truth is that many of us have heard from the Lord but we have not done what Jesus said. There are areas where He has spoken and we have not obeyed. Sometimes people wonder why it is they go through a dry time when they do not feel the Lord is speaking to them. I am convinced it is because we have not followed through on something He has already said. We go to God and ask "Will you speak to me? Will you show me? Will you guide me? Will you help me understand?" And Jesus says, "DO what I have already told you."
Where have you not been obedient? Is there some area in which Jesus has spoken to you and you have not done what He said? Is there an area where you have been disobedient? Some area that God has been dealing with in your life? Jesus would say-- Don't call me Lord. Call me friend. Rabbi. Teacher.
Father God, forgive me for my casual approach to Your Son. Teach me the real meaning of Lordship as I surrender to You. In Jesus' name.