When the Bible Gets it Wrong (Article #1)

Whenever we read or hear things from sources we don’t agree with we’re often quite ruthless in the way we react towards them. However, our bias, when it comes to sources we respect, many times jeopardizes our honesty and the authenticity of what we believe.

Today’s article is about the two builders; the wise and the foolish. We read that Jesus says building on sand is a bad idea yet in the Australian building standards, sand is one of the best soils to build on, second only to rock. Was Jesus wrong?

I have no intention of getting too technical with this post but to simply highlight a few points.

Let’s begin by reading the passage:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell-and great was its fall.

– Matthew 7:24‭-‬27 NASB

1. The comparison that Jesus makes is between two groups of people who hear His words. One group acts on what it heard and the other doesn’t.

2. A lot of buildings in Australia are built on sand. Floods have come and storms have hit; the buildings are still here.

3. A foundation is required to do two things: a) support the structure sitting on it, and b) transfer the load of the structure onto the ground evenly.

4. We have a second account concerning this parable. Luke also mentions it but, in his recollection, what Jesus compares is not rock and sand but building with or without a foundation. (Luke 6:47-49)

If you read both these passages in context, you will realise that Jesus’ message was about faith that is shallow and faith that is deep and well-grounded. Bearing that in mind, it makes perfect sense, then, to see it in Luke’s point of view.

This isn’t to say that Matthew made up his side of the story. It could be a loss in translation or a lack of understanding on Matthew’s part. A third possibility could be that Jesus meant for the parable to be apt mainly for His hearers who did not have a full understanding of proper foundations but I don’t quite think this is the case.

All in all, I find it important that we stress on teaching passages like this correctly. Had both men prepared a good foundation, both houses would have withstood the disastrous weather, regardless of the soil type. Would that have made Jesus’ words void? Not at all; after all, both men resembled those who heard Jesus’ words. The problem was not with what the men did but, rather, what they did not do.

Remember, Jesus was  talking about those who hear His words and act on them in contrast with those who hear His words but do not act on them. So, in this parable, we’re trying to look at what one man did do and what the other did not do. Both men built a house each; nothing lacking. One man built on rock and the other on sand. Still, we have not found anything lacking. One man built with a foundation, the other did not. There it is!

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