He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. — Luke 6:48-49
The city of New Orleans, Louisiana, is nearly surrounded by water: Lake Pontchartrain lies to the north and Lake Borgne to the east, and the Mississippi River runs along its southern border. When the city was founded, flooding was an obvious concern, so levees (man-made walls along the edges of waterways) soon were built to keep the city safe. The levee system was expanded as the city grew, and was especially relied upon during hurricanes and other tropical storms. The safety of the citizens’ lives and possessions depended upon its effectiveness.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina — a Category 3 storm — struck southeast Louisiana. Some residents had fled the city, knowing the hurricane was coming, but many stayed behind. They had survived other hurricanes before Katrina, and were relying on the levees to keep them safe from any storm surge. That decision cost many of them their lives. The levees failed, and the resulting flooding led to Katrina being one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, as well as the costliest in property damage.
There were a variety of reasons for the levee failures in New Orleans, but one of them was an overestimation of the strength of the soil underneath some of them. The engineers had known they were building on soil, but they had believed the soil to be stronger than it actually was. As a result, when the storm surge swept into New Orleans, the force of the water literally pushed the levees over. Mass flooding ensued, and eighty percent of the city was left underwater.(1)
In today’s text, Jesus told a parable of two men who each built a house. One chose to build on solid rock; the other built upon soil. We might wonder, Why did the one man choose to build where there was no solid foundation? Jesus doesn’t say, but we know building on rocky terrain would have taken time, patience, and hard work. It would have been challenging to chip into the rock to get a level footing for the house. It could have taken a long time to work around rocky outcrops and to attach the structure to bedrock.
The wise man seems to have considered that anchoring to a solid foundation would be worth the effort. Built into the rock, he knew his house could endure the inevitable storms that would come. The other builder was shortsighted and careless, and his lack of concern cost him everything. In Jesus’ parable, when the storm came, the house built upon the rock stood fast but the house built upon the soil fell.
Jesus pointed out that the person who carefully follows His instructions is like a builder who puts his foundation upon a rock; the one who neglects or ignores the Word of God is like a man who builds upon soil, with nothing to provide real stability.
Today, let’s learn a lesson from Hurricane Katrina and the builders in Jesus’ parable. We must be careful to make sure we are building our lives on a solid spiritual foundation. The trials of life are sure to come our way at some point, but if we have built our lives on Jesus Christ and are carefully following the instructions in His Word, we will never be overwhelmed.
This portion of Luke 6 records Jesus’ selection of the twelve disciples which He designated as Apostles, and a series of teachings laying out a standard of conduct for His followers.
The verse immediately preceding the verses in today’s text indicates that the scribes and Pharisees were “filled with madness” against Jesus, and His response in verse 12 was to seclude Himself in a mountain and spend all night in prayer to His Father. When day came, He selected the twelve Apostles from among a larger group of disciples (verses 13-16). A distinction exists between the words “disciple” and “apostle.” Today, both are commonly used to refer to “the twelve,” but they hold different meanings in Scripture. In verse 13, the word disciple is translated from the Greek word mathetes, meaning “learner” or “pupil.” In the same verse, the word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos, which refers to a “messenger” or “delegate.”
There are several other lists given in Scripture which name the twelve Apostles (see Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, and Acts 1:13). The exact names vary slightly. In some places, Peter is referred to as Cephas or Simon, and Lebbaeus was sometimes called Judas. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Levi is called Matthew. Bartholomew is thought to be Nathaniel.
In verses 17-19, Jesus came down from the mountain with the twelve and stood in a plain with a “great multitude” of disciples who had traveled to see Him. There He healed not only those with diseases and unclean spirits, but all who touched Him: virtue flowed from Him, and all were benefited by coming in contact with the Lord.
After healing the multitude, Jesus proceeded to preach to them. The text in verses 20-49 is sometimes called the “Sermon on the Plain,” but almost all of Jesus’ teachings here are also found in the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7. (The “woes” in verses 25-26 are found only in Luke.) Given the similarity in content, it is possible that this is actually the same sermon. Luke stated that Jesus came down from the mountain and “stood in the plain” to heal the multitude, but when it came time to speak, He may have ascended the mountain again to make it easier for the people to hear Him. This would be consistent with Matthew’s account. However, it is also possible that Jesus preached similar messages on various occasions; while the audiences were different, the same message of truth would have applied to all.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The ministry of the Son of Man
C. The climax of the ministry of the Son of Man
1. The call of the twelve (6:12-16)
2. The instruction of the disciples (6:17-49)
a. The setting (6:17-19)
b. The content (6:20-49)
(1) Characteristics of those in His kingdom (6:20-26)
(2) Practice of those in His kingdom (6:27-45)
(3) Exhortation to those who consider Him (6:46-49)
Let us determine to be faithful disciples of Jesus and build our lives upon Him. If we do so, He will keep us through every trial that comes our way.
1. Allison Plyer, “Facts for Features: Katrina Impact,” The Data Center: Independent Analysis for Informed Decisions in Southeast Louisiana, https://www.datacenterresearch.org, accessed May 29, 2020.
2. Robert Kayen, Brian Collins, and Helen Gibbons, “USGS Scientists Investigate New Orleans Levees Broken by Hurricane Katrina,” Sound Waves Monthly Newsletter, Dec 2005/Jan 2006, https://archive.usgs.gov/archive/sites/soundwaves.usgs.gov/2006/01/index.html, accessed May 29, 2020.