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3 things disciples do to build unshakeable houses (Luke 6)

discipleship, parable, wise man, house on the rock, Luke 6

The second half of Luke chapter 6 is one of the most powerful passages of scripture. I am moved, challenged, and motivated every time I read it. I read it again today. Here are some of my thoughts.

Being Jesus’ Disciples

Loving, Giving, and Forgiving

Luke 6 contains difficult teaching for followers of Jesus.[1] Here Jesus teaches that we are to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us (Luke 6:27-28). We are to “turn the other cheek” and we are to give to everyone who asks something of us. Moreover, if anyone takes something that belongs to us, we should not demand its return (Luke 6:29-30). We need to act on this teaching with wisdom; nevertheless, the principles still apply if we truly want to be Jesus’ disciples. Being a disciple is not always easy!

In short, Jesus tells us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and he tells us to be merciful just like our merciful Father, who shows kindness to everyone, even the ungrateful and wicked (Luke 6:31, 35-36).

Jesus’ disciples are not just given instructions in Luke 6:27ff, Jesus also gives us promises, and a warning. We are promised a great reward and the astounding privilege of being called children of the Most High. The warning is that God uses the same measure in dealing with us that we use in our dealings with others. Now that’s something to think about!

How generous and gracious are we towards others? We will be wise if we heed these words of Jesus: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:37-38).

The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders

Coming, Hearing, and Doing

Luke 6 closes with Jesus telling the parable of the wise man who built his house on the rock and foolish man who built his house on the sand. Jesus prefaces this parable by asking a sobering question: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Jesus then goes on to say that a wise person is “everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them” (Luke 6:47). Three things are necessary if we want to be wise disciples: coming to Jesus, hearing Jesus’ words, and doing what Jesus’ says . . . even the difficult things.

The wise person in the parable who built his house on the rock also did three things. He began by digging; then he excavated more deeply; after that, he placed the foundation of his house on rock. The three steps are clearer in the Greek text of Luke 6:48.[2]

Digging  →  Going deep  →  Placing a foundation on rock
Coming  →  Hearing   →   Doing: Putting Jesus’ words into practice

If we want a strong, unshakeable house we need to be continually doing all of the three things that Jesus spoke of: coming, hearing, and doing.[3] Coming to Jesus without hearing is not enough. Hearing his words without doing them is not enough. And doing without coming and hearing is ill-advised. Yet, it may just be that the actions of putting Jesus’ words into practice are the very things that give our “house”—our lives in Christ—its firm foundation.

If we want to be true, wise disciples of Jesus we need to keep coming to Jesus, keep hearing him, and keep putting his words into practice. Then we will be like the wise man who built a strong, unshakeable house on a secure foundation.


[1] The passage on discipleship begins with Luke 6:12-16 where Jesus summons his disciples and, from them, selects the Twelve. In verse 17 we are told that Jesus’ disciples were a large crowd; no doubt many women were part of this large crowd. Jesus’ teaching applies equally to men and to women.

[2] There are three verbs in the Greek of Luke 6:48: eskarpsen (s/he dug), ebathunen (s/he went deep), ethēken (s/he placed or laid), but the meaning of the first two verbs are combined, rather than distinct, in most English translations such as the NIV, KJV, NRSV, NASB, ESV, etc. Only a few translations make a distinction between the first two verbs. Compare translations of Luke 6:48 here.

[3] The Greek words for “coming” (erchomenos), “hearing” (akouōn), and “doing” (poiōn) in Luke 6:47 are present participles which indicate a continuing, ongoing action.

Postscript: Three Verbs in the Parable of the Sower

Just as there are three verbs for the actions of the wise builder recorded in Luke’s Gospel, there are three verbs in the parable of the sower, recorded in Mark’s Gospel, for the seed that fell on good soil and produced a harvest. These verbs are akouousin, paradechontai, karpophorousin: they hear (the word), they accept (it as truth), and they bear fruit (Mark 4:20). We need to keep hearing the word and keep accepting and embracing it, and we will bear fruit.

The same sentence is rendered a little differently and expanded in Luke 8:15: “But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it [a different Greek verb than in Mark 4:20] and by enduring, produce fruit.” But essentially, the same three actions are required in Mark 4:20 and in Luke 8:15.

Four actions are given in Matthew 12:23: “But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word [a different verb than what is used in either Mark 4:20 or Luke 8:15], who does produce fruit and yields: some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times what was sown.”

In both the parable of the wise and foolish builders and the parable of the sower, hearing is necessary for building a strong foundation for our faith and walk with Jesus and for being fruitful. But hearing is not enough.


Gaspe Perce Rock in Quebec, Canada © Kevin Miller (iStock #3324465) (cropped).

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