24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” ESV
Jesus is telling this story about people. In this case it’s pretty obvious the good choice would be building on the rock but it’s “more” than a story about good/bad options. It’s a story for everyone whether they’re wise or foolish. Each hears these words…each built his house and on each the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. There’s “more” to consider here if the two builder’s circumstances were not what made the difference in their outcome.
This parable is not a story about the danger of circumstances. The danger Jesus is warning about is our destiny if we trust more in our belief rather than the truth of His Words. Recently I’ve discovered something new about how the Bible can tell me “more.” It was a surprise to me to discover if I’d been doing a word or topical search and copying the verses I found I could then read those verses as a story of their own without the references and Voila! I found “more” from His Word. So here’s “more” for today.
“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.a So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and ‘a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”b
a Deut 32:4
b 1 Peter 2:7
Mark 9 The Red Thread
16 “What are you arguing with them about?
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”…“You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
29… This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Here are the characters of the story:
• Religious leaders hassling the disciples for being ineffective
• The frustrated disciples because they’re ineffective
• A devoted father unable to get help for his son
• A frustrated Jesus
It seems studying a red letter version of Mark requires going through the book more slowly to experience how the little parts tucked in along with the big deal parts are tied together with that same red thread of Jesus’s words.
Chapter 9 seems to be about recognizing the challenge that faith is greater than what you currently comprehend. That certainly happened to Peter, James and John on the mountain with Jesus. That challenge continues with the words of the devoted father, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” and even the disciples own frustrated words “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
Faith wasn’t the issue. It was an issue of maintenance that frustrated Jesus enough to confront them with this truth. It’s prayer that maintains the connection of faith to the power of God…”only by prayer.”
Romans 1:17 The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself—that it begins and ends with faith. As the Scripture says, “But those who are right with God will live by faith.” NCV (New Century Version)
“But those who are right with God will live by faith.” That’s the bottom line of belief, beginning to end. Of course we should live by faith. Of course we want to be right with God. Of course, it’s all about faith but what does that mean in day-to-day life? We try so hard to make a right life with God be about what we’ve learned, what we do, how skilled we are and even who we know. Did you notice all the “we’s?” That’s the struggle. It’s hard to avoid inserting yourself into the description of what living a life of faith and being “right with God” looks like.
If you had to come up with a definition of what it means to live by faith, could you? Could you define what faith is in your own words without cliche’s, without inserting what you do or don’t do and even without quoting scriptures? That’s what I’m asking myself as I try to write my definition.
““But those who are right with God will live by faith.”
• With the awareness life will be good, whatever happens
• Knowing having no control isn’t the same as helplessness
• Not needing to know everything about it to be confident in it
• Depending on yet undiscovered reserves of strength
If you try writing your definition of living by faith, please think about adding your results in a comment to me. I’d love to post them.