Compassion that reaches beyond the boundary

Jesus touches a man with leprosoy

Jesus was compassionate. That is not exactly news to most people. But to the fact that Jesus was compassionate, we must add another piece of information: Jesus’ compassion teaches about the nature of God. In Jesus’ acts of compassion, we see that God reaches outside the boundaries to enable outsiders to come in. Consider briefly with me Jesus healing a leper.

impure made pure

In Mark 1:40-45, we read about Jesus cleansing a man with a skin disease. According to the laws in Leviticus 13, Jesus probably shouldn’t have been hanging around with a leper. But he did. In fact, he did even more than just hang around with him:

40 Now a leper came to him and fell to his knees, asking for help. “If you are willing, you can make me clean,” he said. 41 Moved with indignation, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing. Be clean!” 42 The leprosy left him at once, and he was clean. (NET)

Jesus touched him. According to all of the social conventions and the Torah on which they were based—some more rightly than others—Jesus shouldn’t do that. To be a ‘leper’ meant the man had a skin disease which rendered him ritually impure.

Note: the word leprosy in the Bible is not referring to the skin disease which we today call leprosy, or, more technically, Hansen’s disease. It refers to a variety of skin conditions of uncertain nature that resulted in rashes, spots, etc.

Ritual impurity worked a lot like COVID lockdown guidelines—touch someone who was sick and you had to go into quarantine, too, until you could prove you weren’t sick. Avoiding ritual impurity was an important consideration in Jesus’ day and place. Jesus sets this all aside and touches the man.

Why does Jesus do this?

following the model of God

Jesus follows the model of how God deals with a rebellious people who are ritually (and morally) cut off from him. We see this model many places in the Old Testament, but an especially poignant instance occurs at Mt. Sinai.

While Moses is up on the mountain receiving the Law, the people decide to through their own impromptu religious orgy. In this act, they violate the provisions of the covenant God is making with them. Thus, if God were driven by legal technicalities, he would walk away from them and never come back. Instead, the sin becomes the backdrop for God’s self-revealing action.

In Exodus 34:27 we read:

27 The Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” (NET)

This verse sounds interesting, but once we remember it is after the golden calf rebellion, it takes a profound meaning. Despite God’s people breaking their nascent covenant with God, he reconnects with them. In his compassion, he reaches beyond the terms of the covenant they broke and takes hold of them again.

We learn about God by what he does, and what he does is reach out with compassion beyond the boundaries.

the cleaning touch

The model of God’s action in Exodus is not lost on Jesus. God made the people fit for relationship even though they had made themselves unfit. He crossed through a boundary and brought them back.

In a small, symbolic way, Jesus does this same thing. He steps across the boundary of clean/unclean and brings the leprous man back. His command, “Be clean!” effects the opposite of what is expected. In the purity system, when a clean person touched an unclean person, it was always the uncleanness that was contagious. Jesus acts with the finger of God to bring restorative cleanness to the man with a touch.

We learn about God by what he does. One compassionate touch from Jesus has so much to teach us about a God who crosses boarders and boundaries to bring people home.

How Mark ends

Today, Bible scholars widely believe that the Gospel of Mark originally ended at Mark 16.8, rather than 16.20.[1] Agreement among biblical scholars about most questions is a hard to come by as consensus in the senate, so this is an odd state of affairs. To restate the basic assertion, the near-consensus view among New Testament scholars and specialists in the Gospels is that all the stuff in Mark 16.9-20 in your Bible is based on Greek written by somebody else rather than Mark, the author of the rest of the Gospel.[2] In fact, your Bible likely has a footnote, or brackets, or different font indicating this point.

While the issue quickly gets far more technical than what belongs on a blog like this, the basics are easy for any interested party to understand. In this post I will summarize (1) the basic lines of evidence, (2) a few possible explanations for what might have happened, and (3) give a few thoughts about what this means for those who believe the Bible is God’s word.

the evidence for how Mark ends

There are a variety of lines of evidence which support the conclusion that the Greek text written by Mark ends at 16.8. Here is a summary of the main evidence:[3]

  1. The material in vv. 9-20 doesn’t appear in our oldest and best manuscripts of the Book of Mark. Remember, there is no one single “Gospel of Mark” manuscript which contains everything and has no issues. When you read a bible translation, or even a Greek New Testament, you are reading a text which has been carefully assembled from the mountains of textual evidence we have in the form of handwritten manuscripts. The best manuscripts we have don’t have Mark 16.9-20.
  2. There are a few different endings in the manuscripts, which suggests that none of the ones we have are original to the Gospel.
  3. In the Greek text, the connection between v. 8 and any of the following different forms of ending—there are 3 or 4 different endings in the manuscripts—is really awkward. Your Bible likely smooths it over, but in the Greek v. 9 carries on as though Jesus were the person being talked about just before it, rather than the women. This suggests that Mark 16.9-20 was not originally written to be here at the end of Mark; rather, it was added later.
  4. The style of the Greek writing in Mark 16.9-20 differs from the rest of the Gospel. This suggests it was written by someone else.
  5. The information in vv. 9-20 reads like a compilation of resurrection appearances from the other Gospels summarized together. This point is a stronger argument the more one accepts the idea that Mark was the first Gospel written, as a majority of Gospel scholars believe today. It may have been. If Mark was written first, it shouldn’t end with a summary of information found in the other Gospels and Acts.

Far more could be said about any of these difficulties, but these and other lines of evidence have roundly convinced the world of New Testament scholarship that the Greek text of the Gospel of Mark did not originally include vv. 9-20 of chapter 16. While it is old, probably already around in some form in the 2nd century (that is the years AD 100-199), putting it among some of the earliest Christian literary evidence, it was not original to the Gospel of Mark.[4]

what happened to Mark’s end?

So, what happened to the end? Or was there an end? Bruce Metzger, one of the most influential modern scholars on the original text of the Greek New Testament, suggests the three obvious possibilities:[5]

(1) Mark intended to end the Gospel here, (2) the Gospel was never finished, or (3) there was an original ending, but it was lost before the Gospel manuscript was copied.

More and more scholars are arguing for (1), that Mark intended to finish the Gospel at what we call Mark 16.8. That is certainly possible. The main argument against this is that the Greek of Mark 16.8 ends in a very abrupt and unusual manner. Further, the storyline of the Gospel anticipates a resurrection and Jesus meeting with the disciples again after resurrection.

I have personally never come across someone who argues (2), but it is logically possible.

Finally, it is possible that the original copy of the Gospel of Mark had a different ending and it was lost or damaged somehow before copies were made (or very early in the copying process). The multiple different endings which we see in the different manuscripts suggests that even in ancient times people felt the Gospel did not really end at what we now call Mark 16.8. If the Gospel of Matthew is based closely on the Gospel of Mark—as many scholars believe—then the ending of Matthew may very well testify something about the original ending of the Gospel of Mark, assuming there was one.

And that is the difficulty. What we can be very confident of is that Mark 16.9-20 was not written by the same person who wrote the rest of the Gospel. When we try to answer the question why that is or how it came to be, we are on speculative grounds.

What to do about how Mark ends

Rather than trying to explain all of the technical details, I want to take a minute to contemplate what we should think about how Mark ends. That Mark likely had a different ending than what is in our Bibles today is interesting as a statement of history, but raises many difficulties for those who confess the Bible as God’s word to humanity. How do we handle the reasonable conclusion that Mark 16.9-20 was not part of the original Gospel of Mark?

We can briefly think in terms of two different issues: the authority of scripture and the usefulness of scripture.

The authority of Scripture

Undoubtedly the text as it stands at the end of Mark is old, and most Christians for most of history have read it as the end of the Gospel of Mark, that is, as Scripture. If we are convinced that Mark 16.9-20 was not original to the Gospel, should we read it today as authoritative scripture?

To answer this question requires us to grasp an important point from the history of the various books of the Bible which hides in plain sight. When Christians talk about Scripture, we usually are referring to what we could more precisely call the canonical form of Scripture. The canonical form refers to all the books of the Bible (together call the canon) and to the particular form of the book which we have in the canon.

This second point may seem trivial until we observe that many of the biblical books show evidence that the canonical form is not the only form they ever existed in. Many of our books of the Bible we’re written in a variety of forms and what we have is not what was first written. Now let me carefully nuance that with two examples from the OT: Jeremiah and Genesis.

Two examples of canonical form

In Jeremiah 36 we read a brief story of how the prophet Jeremiah sent a scroll of his prophecy to King Jehoiakim. King Jehoiakim was less than thrilled with the prophecy. He made his displeasure clear by slicing the scroll up and burning it. Towards the end of Jeremiah 36, Jeremiah has Baruch, his scribe, write the scroll of his prophecy again.

This brief account from Jeremiah 36 tells us that Jeremiah had a written form of his prophecies that’s different than the final form of the written book of his prophecies. He still had years of prophetic ministry left to go. Yet even before it was done, his words were meant to be heard/read by King Jehoiakim as a message with divine authority. The scroll he sent was authoritative but it was not the canonical form of the book/scroll of Jeremiah.

As a second example, consider briefly Genesis 14.4:

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. (ESV)

This verse appears unremarkable, and in most respects it is. But, if you ponder closely your biblical history, you may remember that when Abram/Abraham was alive, there was no tribe of Dan. Dan was one of his great-great-grandsons, born after his death. Thus, there was no geographic location “Dan” in the land latter to be called Israel that Abram and his 318 trained men to could go to.[6]

What does this show us? At some point, the text of Genesis was “updated” to reflect later geographical names not part of the original text.[7]

The point of these two brief side notes—and more could be added—is just to remind us that already within our Bible we have indicators that sometimes other people finish writing or updating a book in the Bible. We have the canonical form, which is not necessarily identical with the form exactly as written by the original author. The canonical form is the book we hold to.

The key to take away in the question of whether it is authoritative scripture or not is this: whether we ultimately accept it as such or not, it doesn’t add anything that we don’t know from elsewhere or that is inconsistent with the message of God to his people through his word.

The usefulness of Scripture

A second consideration is the usefulness of scripture. As I’ve already noted, the on the regional longer ending of Mark doesn’t really add anything that we don’t know from elsewhere. The one curious exception is 16.18:

18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

This is the verse that the “snake-handlers” appeal to to justify their practice of playing with deadly snakes as a show of faith. First, it need not mean anything like that…and it certainly does not call for followers of Jesus to go out of their way to hold snakes or drink deadly poisons. Second, it is possible that this verse, along with verse 17, is a sort of poetic summation of events from the book of Acts: Paul gets bitten by a poisonous snake without dying and the Apostles in Acts heal lots of people. Since the rest of the material in vv. 9-20 appears to be summations of events recorded in the other Gospels, this is not a bad suggestion.

More significantly, though, Mark 16.9-20 do doesn’t add any information about God’s aims and intentions for his people through Jesus that we don’t see elsewhere. So, is it useful? Yes, it can be. Whether we accept it and use it as scripture or not, it is good and useful, as the church throughout history has testified.

summary of using Mark as Scripture

What reverence and authority should we give Mark 16.9-20? Both our instinct to read the rest of what’s in our Mark chapter 16 and our instinct to stop reading at verse eight of Mark 16 find precedent in the long history of the church. I am personally inclined to say that we should not consider Mark 16.9-20 as part of the Gospel of Mark. But, more significantly than that conclusion, we recognize that it does not make any significant difference. The verse there can be useful; they may be authoritative. Whichever way we land on how we receive them, they are a beneficial part of the tradition of the church across the centuries which can be read with profit as the ending of the Gospel of Mark. That is how most people have read them throughout the ages, and how lots of people will continue to read them.

[1] There are very few things in the world of biblical studies which command close to universal assent, and the conclusion that the Greek text of Mark ends at 16.8 is one of those, as France notes R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2002), 685.

[2] Following the traditional identification of the Gospel author as Mark, probably John Mark, the traveling companion of both Paul and Peter.

[3] These points are a streamlined version of the lines of argument which can be found, in varying degrees of detail, in Mark L. Strauss, Four Portraits, One Jesus: An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 194, Figure 7.9; Andreas J Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2009), 239; Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1998), 103–6; France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, Appended Note.

[4] No doubt, the material is old. France indicates there is some evidence putting the longer version of the ending in the 2nd century, which would make it some of our earliest extant non-canonical Christian literature. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 687–88.

[5] Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 103–6.

[6] One could argue that when Moses wrote, the land was “as good as divided” and he wrote from a later perspective. But Moses was dead when the land was apportioned, so this is weak. Of course, God could have prophetically shown him the boundaries of a later date. While we hold that as theoretically possible, it raises further difficulties—like why various authors of Scripture write with grammatical errors and different styles. Also, that various books contain reports of the death of their authors suggest that they were at the very least touched up by a subsequent writer.

[7] There are many more examples of this sort of updating in the book of Genesis. We could also add that all of the early books of the OT would have been written in a different form of Hebrew than we have them, at the very least because Hebrew was written in the paleo-script rather than the square script. Also, the general degree of standardization within OT Hebrew suggests that there was some “updating” of the language in the texts over the years.

Do you want eternal life…or the Kingdom of God?

There are two types of Gospels. We call the first type the Synoptic Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Synoptic means something like “looking with.” We call these three the Synoptics because they look at Jesus in a similar way. This leaves the Gospel of John as the other Gospel.

In fact, only about 8% of the Gospel of John overlaps with the Synoptic Gospels. The chronology is different, the few events are different order, and the style of Jesus’ ministry is different. Rather than showing Jesus performing many miracles like in the Synoptics, John focuses in on 7. Rather than short teachings grouped together with stories, John is mainly comprised of long discourses of Jesus, often in ongoing discussion with Jewish religious leaders.

One difference of interest: eternal life.

Kingdom of God vs. Eternal Life

Matthew, Mark, and Luke characterize Jesus as teaching about the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven, in Matthew). The summary statement of his ministry is “repent, for the Kingdom is at hand” (Matt 4.17 and parallels).

In John, by contrast, Jesus regularly speaks about eternal life.

What are we to make of this? Did Jesus have two different ministries? Why are John and the Synoptics so different from each other on this point?

Two sides of the same coin

Before answering this, consider for a moment the following two statements:

  1. I am a Christian.
  2. I am a follower of Jesus.

What is the difference between these two? While the language is distinct and they certainly have different emphases, they are basically equivalent. I prefer the second expression to the first because I think the identity “Christian” has too much cultural baggage associated with it to be useful in many contexts. But, both expressions are essentially synonymous.

I contend that this is what we see in kingdom of God and eternal life in the Synoptics and John. Two different ways of expressing the same basic idea. And ways that would make sense to different sorts of people.

Kingdom of God and eternal life in the same context

Consider John chapter 3. In John 3.3 and 5, Jesus is talking with Nicodemus about entering the Kingdom of God:

3.3 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

3.5 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God

All well and good. This sounds like Jesus from the Synoptics. But note that as the conversation continues, suddenly the topic changes. In John 3.14-16 we read:

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

In this one conversation Jesus and Nicodemus move from discussing entering the Kingdom of God to having eternal life without any obvious break in the discussion. This suggests that these two phrases represent the same basic idea.

This suggestion is confirmed in Mark 9.42-10.31 where we again see kingdom of God and eternal life occurring in close connection.

Mark 9.47: And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell

Then again, the Rich Young Ruler comes and asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (10.17). In the follow up discussion Jesus has with his disciples, he tells them,

“29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”

In between those two mentions of eternal life, Jesus says this:

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!

The takeaway? The Kingdom of God and eternal life are two different ways of talking about the same central reality.

The Kingdom of Life, the eternal kingdom

There are a couple benefits from recognizing that “kingdom of God” and “eternal life” are similar concepts.

First, it helps us to see that although the Gospels are different from each other in a variety of ways, some of the differences are more cosmetic than actual. It appears that John, in writing his Gospel, used the “preacher’s prerogative” to shape his message to his audience. The language of eternal life requires less Jewish and OT background to understand what it means as part of God’s plan.

Second, it reminds us that the language and concepts we have for understanding humanity and God and the relationship we are created to have through Jesus is flexible. We are not stuck with just one idea.

Growing up, I don’t remember hearing much Kingdom of God theology, but lots about eternal life. I personally find “kingdom of God” more evocative and prefer that. Both are right ways to understand truths about what it means to follow Jesus. They bring distinct nuances.

As we think about our personal lives and about explaining and living gospel truths before others in our lives, it can pay to be flexible. We have more than one set of conceptual tools in our toolbox for understanding how we, and other people in our lives, are meant to relate to God in this life and in the life to come.

The generous justice of God

Justice is all the rage these days.

What exactly justice is is a complicated notion, full of complicated sub-discussions and issues. In the Parable of the Generous Vineyard Owner (or the Laborers in the Vineyard) in Matthew 20.1-16, an interesting wrinkle in justice stands out.

Remember the basic story: a man hires workers for a full day for an agreed upon wage, then goes out several more times throughout the day and hires more, finally paying everyone the same amount no matter how long or short they worked. Understandably, the guys hired first are ticked that the latecomers who worked for 1 hour got paid as much as they did, after working for 12 hours. That is not at all fair.

And you know what? The vineyard owner never talks about being fair. The key word he uses in arranging payment with the latter hired workers is that he will pay them whatever is “just/right” (Mt 20.4).

Justice is a key aspect of God’s dealing with the world. The vineyard owner is like God. While it can be perilous to press every detail of a parable into profound theological points, humor me for a second as we think about his promise to pay them “whatever is just.”

The vineyard owner does not prorate the salaries based on hours worked, giving the 1-hour workers 1/12 of a denarius, and so on. That is what I would expect for a “just” payment arrangement if I was employed under similar circumstances. And that is what the first set of workers expected. If the last group got one day’s wage, certainly it was all but right for them to get more.

Instead, the vineyard owner calls it “just” to give everyone a whole day’s wage regardless of how long said worker worked. He doesn’t give anyone more than he had promised to pay; he doesn’t give anyone less than he had promised to pay; and he gives generously all at the same time. Justice, in this parable, does not involve skimping or short-changing anyone, but it also doesn’t involve rigidity; justice is allowed to be generous.

The Justice System

At risk of raising ugly political feelings, humor me in an exercise to think in a Christian way about justice. When I think of “justice,” the most prominent institution that comes to mind is “the (criminal) justice system.” What is “justice” within this system? While, it is many things, but what strikes me at the moment is that justice is mainly a negative thing. That is, justice is usually measured in retributive punishment. Someone commits a crime and justice is a certain jail sentence, or fine, or sentence to community service, etc. Justice is “paying off one’s debt to society.”

Justice, in this context, has room for concepts like “grace” and “leniency,” as well as “severity” and “penalty.” But a word that has never come to my mind in thinking about the justice system: generosity.

Justice in the Kingdom of God

In the Kingdom of God, justice is not (only) a negative thing. It is not (only) about punishing those who break the law. It is also a reality that is rich in generosity. Justice comes from a perspective of abundance of love, not scarcity of resources.

In applying this parable to our own lives, this parable gives us a model of justice to follow. The vineyard owner’s actions of unfairly paying those who worked less the same wage is described as “just.” Justice in the Kingdom of God is a positive concept animated by love and mercy.

The vineyard owner hires multiple workers at multiple times and this is an exercise in justice. Justice, in this view, looks a lot more like aiming to help others fulfill their potential and meet their needs rather than aiming to punish.

Is punishment part of justice? Of course. But if you are like me, the punishment side of justice is far easier to understand than the generosity side of justice. Being generous with his goodness is part of God’s justice in his kingdom.

Being people who live in God’s Kingdom (under his rule) and who pray for his kingdom to come on this earth as it is in heaven, we probably need to square with the generous justice of God.

Parable of the Two Builders (Mt 7.24-27): It’s not what you build, but where

Take a couple minutes and watch this awesome LEGO© version of the Parable of the Wise and Foolish builders that someone put together.

LEGO Wise and Foolish Builders

Pretty cool, right?

The parable and the house(s)

Notice that in this video version of the parable, the houses which the two builders build are completely different. One builds a hovel on a rock—and he is wise; one builds a mansion on the beach—he is a fool. I’ve looked at many different visual adaptations of this parable and see this theme over and over again. The foolish builder either builds a lavish house, or a slovenly quick-pop-up house, etc. The wise builder, by contrast, is often depicted as building a strong and simple house. His house lasts because it is well put together and not ostentatious. The foolish builder loses his house because it is poorly built or an extravagant waste of money.

The above video well illustrates this line of interpretation (and yes, videos and pictures are interpretations). The houses of the two builders are completely opposites of each other, so the foolish builder comes off both as a critique of where he builds and as a condemnation for his ostentatious wealth as displayed in the type of house he builds.


While fun, the interpretation in the video is not actually found in the parable at all. Notice that there is no actual discussion of how the house was built or what kind of house was built. The discussion in the parable is based entirely on where the house was built. We can imply that there was some difference in the house that was built and possibly that there was more work involved in the one than the other, but even in Luke’s version (Luke 6.46-49), the focus is entirely on the foundation. Not the house.

Letting our focus drift from the foundation to the sort of house that is built—and how much work goes into building that house—can desensitize us to the heart of the parable. The parable strikes a nerve and importing the notion of wealth and sensibility into it can make it miss some of that nerve. Jesus has lots to say about wealth, but that is not the point of this parable.

You see, in this parable Jesus’ point is not to condemn wealth or laziness. The point of the contrast is not that one builder worked hard to build the house and the other did not. The contrast is what kind of foundation they built on.

Keeping the main thing the main thing

I think the element of wealth and laziness vs. industriousness which this video introduces functions to lessen the strikingness of the parable. It makes it easier to swallow. When we turn the parable into teaching the virtue of working harder and smarter, it is suddenly easy to position ourselves as the “good guy” in the parable: “I am willing to work hard and I am not wealthy, so I must be the good guy in the parable, not the bad guy.” The problem though—and this was an endemic problem in Jesus’ ministry—was not that he was dealing with people who were too lazy to work hard at following God. In point of fact, many of the religious leaders who opposed Jesus most vociferously were extremely devoted to religious life. Jesus’ parable challenges their understanding not of how hard someone must work to get into the Kingdom of God, rather of how that work must be oriented.

There is a big part of us that likes the message “work harder, work smarter, and you will enter the Kingdom of God.” The problem, though, is that Jesus doesn’t say “work harder.” This parable is not about how hard the builders work, but about where they work. If you work hard building on sand, when the flood comes, whatever you built, no matter how hard you labored at it, will come crashing down. By contrast, if you work hard building on the rock, it will stand. The outcome is not based on how hard you work—it is assumed that you will be working at building your life. The outcome is based entirely on where you build.

Jesus does not call us to work harder. I should say, Jesus calls us to something more profound than working harder. Working hard is assumed. Likewise, Jesus doesn’t just tell us to work smarter. Again, that is assumed. Jesus challenges the very foundational principles of our lives. Where is our hope? What are we banking on to bring us through in the end? What are we turning to to find meaning for our lives? What is love and how do we show it to other people? These are the sorts of foundational principles of life which Jesus challenges.

You are building your life-house on something, and you are working hard at it. Jesus challenges us to be sure that the hard work we are doing is on the right building site.