“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them…” vss. 1-2a
As Matthew put together his story of Jesus he made use of multiple resources, some written and some oral, and always he shows his appreciation for the Hebrew scriptures. He wants his readers, who were probably Jews, to be reminded of Moses as they read his account. Accordingly, he tells the story of Jesus’ sojourn in Egypt in his childhood. Like Moses, Jesus had come out of Egypt to be a leader for his people and now as he begins his ministry in Galilee, he goes to a mountain (like Sinai) to deliver his first major address. When he sat down to teach, as was the custom for rabbis, his disciples gathered around him and he spoke from his heart. It’s here that the similarity with Moses ends, for Jesus doesn’t bring law for the crowds. He announces blessings and not a new set of commandments. His beatitudes are descriptive and not proscriptive, they bring affirmation and not regulations. Matthew’s report of what Jesus said that day on the mountain remains one of the most powerful and all-encompassing descriptions of the Christ-life that can be found. Leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. have been profoundly impacted. Again, it’s not a set of rules but a description of a life well-lived, and if it’s the only sermon we ever hear, it will have been enough!
Thought for the Day: What words from the Sermon on the Mount have touched me most deeply?