Passage: Matthew 7:24-8:1
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
In Matthew 7:24-8:1, Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount by compelling his hearers—and all of us today—into life-giving self-examination, to see whether or not our faith is genuine. To discern this, Jesus wants us to consider two questions in particular: whether we obey his words, and—by implication—whether we truly recognize who he is.
First, then, Jesus wants us to consider whether we are people who “hear his words and do them” or people who “hear his words and do not do them” (7:24; 26). Jesus commands us to build our lives on obedience to his teachings, particularly his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. If we do so, we will be like the wise person who builds his or her whole life on a solid foundation. Obedience to Jesus’ words in the Sermon in such a reliable test of whether we truly know him, because there is no “untransformed” way of doing any of the Sermon on the Mount.
Second, Jesus is forcing us to reckon with who he truly is. Like the crowds who were “astonished” at the authority of Jesus’ teaching, we too should see in Jesus’ teachings the authority that belongs to his Lordship and respond accordingly (7:28-29). Recognizing that Jesus is not merely a good teacher, but the Lord of heaven and earth means that we can trust his wisdom as he speaks into all areas of our lives. Being Lord, he has a complete grasp of the “terrain” of our personal lives and of life in the 21st century, and therefore obedience to his teachings—radical as they might seem—is the wisest course of action. Recognizing that Jesus is Lord also means we’re accountable to him. If we do not obey him, we are building our lives on an inherently unstable foundation and will face the “flood” of his judgement.
Ultimately, Jesus is the Lord who loves us. Jesus, like the wise man, built his life on his own words—and yet he died for our foolishness and disobedience, all to welcome us into his kingdom and to invite us to build our lives upon him. We can’t possibly distrust his intentions for us, then. So we are commanded, but also invited, to build our lives on obedience to his words. Will we do so?
- Do We Really Do What Jesus Says? (7:24-27)
- Do We Really Recognize Who Jesus Is? (7:28-8:1)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage(s): Matthew 7:24-8:1
Do We Really Do What Jesus Says? (7:24-27)
1) Re-read Matthew 7:24-27. In the sermon, Ben said that this comparison is connected with the two comparisons that come before it—the two “ways” in 7:13-14, and the two trees in 7:15-23—and that Jesus is really making one comparison using three different images. What is he comparing, and how does that affect our reading of the passage?
2) Re-read Matthew 7:24-27 once more, and meditate on these verses together:
o Why do you think Jesus uses the word pictures he does (building a house, rock vs. sand, wise person vs. foolish person, floods, etc)? What are they meant to communicate?
o How do you think Jesus’ original hearers would have responded to this comparison?
3) Why is it so easy to “hear” Jesus words—even study them—but not truly “do” them? In what ways do we in the church communicate the message (even if unintentionally) that “hearing” Jesus’ words is enough, even if we don’t do them?
4) As a group, take two or three minutes in silent prayer. Ask the Lord: Is there an area of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount that you’ve been “hearing”, but not doing? Share as a group. What would it look like concretely for you to obey Jesus in this area?
5) Re-read Matthew 7:27. What is the outcome for that house? What do the “rain”, “floods”, and “winds” represent, in this context? What warning should we draw from this?
Do We Really Recognize Who Jesus Is? (7:28-8:1)
6) Re-read Matthew 7:28-8:1. What impact did Jesus have on the crowds? What was it about Jesus’ teachings that the crowds perceived as authoritative?
7) In the sermon, Ben said that because Jesus is Lord, we can trust that he has the possible wisdom available on the ins and outs of our daily life, and we should therefore question our instinct to say, “Now we know Jesus can’t possibly mean ______” when faced with a hard teaching of his (as if we know more about what “works” in real life, than he does). Have you ever noticed this tendency in yourself—to react to a radical teaching of Jesus by qualifying it or explaining it away? Can you give an example? Why do we do this?
8) What would be some characteristics of a church that more deeply believed that Jesus was Lord, and lived accordingly—in full obedience to the Sermon on the Mount? How would this belief show up in…their corporate worship? Their way of relating to one another? Their evangelism? Their hospitality?
9) How did Jesus “do” his own words in the Sermon on the Mount? How does a loving adoration for Jesus transform us into the kind of people who are capable and willing to do what he says?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.