Followers turn to Jesus, hear his words and act on them
Today we consider in more detail what it means to be a follower of Jesus who takes
on his yoke and learns from him about his particular way of life.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only
the one who does the will of my Father in heaven . . . Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall,
because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and
does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell,
and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and
great was its fall!” (Matthew 7:21, 24-27).
Sometimes, Christians overemphasize Christian “belief” as more important than
Christian “practice.” Here, Jesus addresses that mistaken understanding.
• This passage from Matthew, along with a similar passage at Luke 6:46-49, states
clearly that both hearing and acting on the words of Jesus are essential for
anyone who seeks to be like Jesus and enter the kingdom of heaven.
• In the ancient world, calling someone “Lord” reflected one’s commitment to
carry out that person’s will.
• Calling Jesus “Lord” without acting on his specific instructions for doing the will
of God does not provide one with access to God’s kingdom.
A person’s Christian character (being like Jesus) is formed over time in those who
read scripture with others, hear the teachings of Jesus in scripture, prayer and
worship, and act on his words.
• In times of conflict or trial in their lives (metaphorically, the “floods” and
“winds” in the passage), those with a well-formed Christian character are able to
endure these challenges faithfully.
• For those whose characters are not well formed in the image of Christ, times of
testing may leave them feeling un-moored, and this lack of stability may lead to
the destruction of relationships and families.
Questions for reflection
• What steps might you be willing to take in your life to “hear” better the words of
Jesus and to act on them?
• Why do you think Jesus puts so much emphasis on a person’s actions?
• Can you tell about an experience where someone encountered some kind of crisis,
loss or pain (metaphorically characterized as a “flood” in the passage) because they
did not hear and act on the words of Jesus?
Lord of my life, strengthen my commitment to follow you; give me a more sensitive
ear to hear you; and fill me with the courage to act on your words. Amen.