Once there were these fishermen who never fished. They traveled around and went to conferences about fishing. They blogged about fishing. They debated about proper fishing technics. They argued about whether using a fishing pole or net or your bare hands was the proper way to fish. They discussed the pros and cons of using a boat; of fishing from the peer; of standing in the middle of a river. They were fishing scholars who never practiced any of the technics they considered themselves to be experts of. They were articulate and well educated, having a doctorate in ixthology. However, they had never caught a single fish because they never went fishing.
Luke 6:46-49 begins with a question which is followed by a parable illustrating the question. The question is “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” It seems likely that “Lord” means more than “sir” here. A respectful greeting does not require obedience. The word can mean “owner” referring to the master of an estate. It was also used for kings who were considered to be divine. Some suggest that in this context it may have to do with calling Jesus something like “rabbi.” The question suggests that the word refers to some kind of authority; the Lord expects to not only be listened to, but obeyed. This would fit the rabbi/disciple relationship. Jesus is more than a guru spewing words or wisdom so that people will be impressed. He fully expects people to alter how they live based on his message. There will always be people who will name Jesus “Lord” without any impact on their lives. Clearly, this is not what Jesus asked of us. Nope! He asked so much more.
The person who hears Jesus’ message and practices it; is transformed by it, is like a man who built a house well. He dug – he went deep – and laid his foundation on the bedrock. Many translations throw the words “dig” and “go deep” together and translate “dug deep.” It seems better to keep them as two verbs: “He dug; he went down deep.” This would emphasize the effort. Bailey states that every builder in Palestine understands that you always dig until you reach bedrock. This is often very hard work because the clay in Palestine, during the dry season, having been baked by the sun, is extremely hard. But during the rainy season, this clay softens and shifts. If you are going to claim Jesus as Lord you are going to work hard. His message is more than nice pithy sayings. They are life forming mantras; words to live by. So you dig; you go down deep and you lay your foundation on the bedrock. When the river overruns its banks and the torrent crashes against your house, it will stand because it has been built well.
But the one who has heard, but doesn’t change his life; doesn’t obey; doesn’t act – he is like a person who lazily builds his house. He lays his foundation on top of the ground. It seems solid. Why work so hard to get to the bedrock? He might as well not even have a foundation. When the torrent crashes against his house, the clay is softened and washed right out from underneath the house and it collapses in on itself. The word “ruin” has the idea of “being split open.” It is a medical term for a laceration or rupture. Building a house is always a large investment of resources and time. So, even though this builder lazily decided to not dig, not to go down deep, he has worked hard and has sunk a lot of money into this house. And now? Well, now it lies split open, having collapsed on itself. The person who wants to name Jesus as Lord, but doesn’t want to go down deep, may as well not build at all. All of his investment; all of his work; will lay in ruins.
Jesus is not just a wise teacher. He is the Lord; the owner; the divine king. And if you hear the Lord tell you to measure out forgiveness and generosity and you say, “Well, that’s a nice thought, but there are things I refuse to forgive,” your house will split open. There is no foundation here. Just clay that will not withstand the crashing torrent. And does it matter whether the torrent references the painful moments of life or the judgment of God? The end result is the same: ruin!
Sometimes it seems as if many are willing to listen to people who do not live Jesus merely because they have a degree and are well educated and articulate. Not every scholar fits this description. But some do. They debate; they lecture; they write books. But they have not dug – they have not gone down deep. The message of Jesus is merely an ancient text to be dissected and pontificate over. Their fishing poles have never been wet. Don’t be distracted. Dig – go down deep! Hear and do! Grace and peace, Walter