A tale of two houses
To look at Jesusí parable of the two house-builders and reflect on its meaning.
by Gill Hartley
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To look at Jesus’ parable of the two house-builders and reflect on its meaning.
Preparation and materials
Read through the story, ‘A tale of two houses’.
- Ask the children if they know what the saying ‘as safe as houses’ means. Answer: very safe.
Why do they think houses are thought of as ‘safe’? Answer: because they’re solid and don’t fall down.
- Ask the children if they remember the story of the three little pigs. Remind them of the outline as follows:
There was once a mother pig who had three little pigs. When the little pigs began to grow up, the mother pig said to them, ‘You’re getting too big for this little house, it’s time you went off and built houses of your own.’ So off they went down the road together.
After a while, the three little pigs met a man with a bundle of straw. The first little pig asked the man to sell it to him so that he could build a house. He quickly built himself a very fine house of straw. He was very proud of his house and boasted about it to his brothers. ‘Now the wolf won’t be able to catch me. I shall be safe inside my house!’ he said.
‘I shall build a stronger house than you,’ said the second little pig. ‘And so shall I!’ said the third little pig.
The second little pig was in a hurry to get his house built, so when they met a man carrying a bundle of sticks, he asked the man to sell them to him. He built himself a very fine house of sticks. He knew that his house was stronger than his brother’s house of straw and he was very proud of it! He boasted about it to his brother. ‘Now the wolf won’t be able to catch me. I shall be safe inside my house!’ he said.
‘I shall build a stronger house than you,’ said the third little pig, and he walked away. Very soon he met a man carrying some bricks and he asked the man to sell them to him. It took the third little pig a long time to build his house of bricks, but when it was finished he was very pleased with it. It was a very strong house.
Ask the children to tell you what happened next. The wolf did indeed come and try to blow down all three houses. Which houses were blown down, and which stood firm? Why couldn’t the wolf blow down the house made of bricks?
- Ask the children if they know how a brick house is built. What’s the first thing that the builders do? Answer: dig foundations. (You may need to explain what foundations are.)
Why do builders spend a long time digging deep foundations before they build the walls? Answer: without foundations the walls would fall down.
- Explain that Jesus told lots of stories when he was alive on earth because he knew that people would listen to stories and learn something about God from them. He once told a story about two men (they might have been brothers), who each built themselves a house (just like the three little pigs!).
A Tale of Two Houses
(based on Matthew 7.21–27)
Jesus said, ‘If you do as I tell you, you will be as safe as the man who built his house in a rocky place. He dug down deep. He took a lot of time to build strong foundations. Then he built the walls of his house. When it began to rain, the land around the house flooded. The wind blew and lashed against the house, but it didn’t fall down because it was built on good foundations, deep down on rock.
‘If you don’t do as I tell you,’ Jesus said, ‘you will be like the other man. He was in a hurry and didn’t want to waste time digging deep, and building on rock, so he built his house in a sandy place, on sand. When it began to rain, the sand around his house was washed away. The wind lashed against the house, and it fell down!’
Explain that Jesus told this story to teach people that if they listen to what he says and do the things he tells them to do, they will be as safe as houses.
Time for reflection
(based on Philippians 4.8)
help us to live our lives well,
today and every day.
Help us to fill our minds with things that are
true and right.
Help us to look for the things in life that are
pure and lovely,
and to see in others the things that are
good and fine.
Help us today to put into practice
the things which we have learned and know to be right.
‘All over the world’ (‘Everybody’s building’) (Come and Praise, 61)
‘The wise man built his house upon the rock’, see