As promised this morning in the Luke study, I’m posting a literary diagram of the passage we studied, the final part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain. The list of people interested in literary diagrams is undoubtedly extremely short – especially coming from me, a self-professed, non-expert. However, in the quest to understand the Bible in its proper context, the literary structure is highly important to understand what the biblical text really says.
Previously, we have seen examples of chiastic parallelism. This form of parallelism has a center point that clearly proclaims the climax or main point of that literary segment. We have also seen step parallelism, and that is our focus here.
Luke 6:46-49 lays out in step parallelism, in which parallel points step down in like manner to illustrate the contrast or other relationship between them. Here, the comparison is between a house built on a rock foundation and a house with no foundation at all – simply built on the hard, earthen ground.
In step parallelism the point of emphasis normally appears at the end of each parallel series. In this case the climax or main point of the story is the effect of the storm and resulting floods upon the two houses. To visually illustrate the step parallelism, I’ve laid out the passage below with an indentation to the right for each “step” down. Following the introductory principle of verse 46, there are two sets of “steps” parallel to each other – hence, step parallelism. I use the KJV to illustrate, but you can see this same structure in any version.
PRINCIPLE: And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
A Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
B He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock:
C and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
A But he that heareth, and doeth not,
B is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth;
C against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
In abbreviated form this passage would look something like this:
HEAR and DO my words
Like building a house on a solid rock foundation.
FLOOD – house not shaken
HEAR and NOT DO my words
Like building a house with NO foundation
FLOOD – House destroyed.
This passage is often misunderstood. When people start making a list of stuff Jesus said so that they can DO the checklist, they miss the point and return to a law-based, performance-driven life, not a life lived in response to and in the power of God’s grace. This is not a formula of simple things to do in order to please God, nor is it this is a discussion of how to “be saved,” but a call to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is simply a call to OBEY what Jesus tells us to do.
You can be a rigorous rule keeper and committed to apply biblical principle to your life, yet still not submit fully to Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. This is because we all tend to choose which rules we want to obey while ignoring others. We commit to apply biblical principle to our life – when it’s convenient, or an emergency, or interesting, or … well, I think you get the idea. We can do all that without that fundamental predisposition to simply OBEY whatever Jesus might tell us to do.
A multitude has come to hear Jesus speak, and his words are dividing them. The real issue is to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord – Boss. It’s not enough to come to Jesus and hear him; he wants us to DO his words. If Jesus is truly Lord of our life, we will both HEAR and DO his words. Storms will come but you will survive and thrive. If you merely HEAR and do not DO his words, you have chosen to build your life upon NO foundation.