By Mark Scott
Jesus the Builder
The Hebrew Christians were tempted to compromise Jesus. Some of the people were mesmerized by angels (Hebrews 1:4-14). But the angels actually helped put in place the message about Jesus (2:1-3) and his sovereignty (vv. 4-8). This sovereignty was not compromised but was actually enhanced by his incarnation (vv. 9-13). In coming to earth Jesus destroyed the devil and started building a new house (people) for God (vv. 14-18).
This is why the writer of Hebrews said, Therefore. His argument marched on. Jesus is not only better than angels; he is also better than Moses. Using the metaphor of a house for God’s people, the writer called the whole church (holy brothers and sisters) to fix her thoughts on Jesus, who is this master builder. This fixing of the mind on Christ is mentioned later in Hebrews as well (12:2), and it means “to express attention and observe carefully.” The writer wants the church to consider Jesus because, as the apostle (the only time Jesus is called this in the New Testament) and high priest (a theme developed later), he is uniquely qualified to be God’s builder for three reasons:
1—Jesus is God’s builder because he is faithful. This adjective rightly describes Jesus because he keeps his word and conducts his life in total obedience to God (Hebrews 5:8). Granted, Moses was also faithful (3:2), but his obedience was not perfect (Exodus 2:12; 4:10-17; Numbers 20:10-13).
2—Jesus is God’s builder because he is worthy of greater honor than Moses. Obviously part of this is due to Jesus’ faithfulness. But it also has to do with his place on the organizational chart. Moses was like a trade worker or subcontractor. God in Christ is the builder of everything. A house can have honor (glory), but the builder of the house is the one honored when the house is dedicated. Moses did build up God’s people, but the ultimate builder of God’s people is God himself. (See 1 Corinthians 3:7 for a similar metaphor.)
3—Jesus is God’s builder because he is the Son. Jesus’ identity is really the key to his superior building skill. Moses was a servant, but Jesus is the Son. Moses could only predict what the house would look like (bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future). Jesus was over (upon) God’s house, a phrase that once again emphasizes his superiority.
If Jesus is imminently qualified to be the builder, what is it that he builds? Us! He builds people. But due to what the Hebrew Christians were facing, the writer added this refrain, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. The message to them and to us is: Do not give up on Jesus, the builder of the house.
You the Builder
We move from the epistle to the first Gospel for the second part of our text. Like the Hebrews passage, the text begins with Therefore. This text is the closing appeal in the famous Sermon on the Mount. Jesus began his conclusion in Matthew 7:13. Jesus told of two ways, two trees, two claims, and finally two builders. Ultimately the builders are either wise or foolish, and the wise builder is the one who listens to Jesus’ teaching.
The parable posits two givens in our lives:
1—Everyone hears and builds. To say, “I do not build on anything or anyone,” is indicative of building. People who say such are building on the fact that they think they are not building on anything. When pressed, all of us betray some kind of worldview that we build our lives upon.
2—Storms come to all. The temptation is to think that some people are spared storms. Nope. Rain and wind come to all.
The parable posits two variables in our lives:
1—Are we hearing and doing? Practicing what Jesus preached makes us wise builders.
2—Where are we building? Foundations built on rocks withstand storms. Foundations built on sand fall with a great crash when it storms.
The crowds were amazed at Jesus the builder. He taught with authority because he is the Son over God’s house. How will you build?
Dr. Mark Scott teaches Preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.