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Jesus has more to give us, and it's more important than we know. Matthew 5.1, 2

Matthew 5: The Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes (1)

Pray Psalm 128.1.
Blessed is every one who fears the LORD,
Who walks in His ways.

Sing joyously Psalm 128.1, 2
(Fountain: There is a Fountain Filled with Blood)
How blest are they who fear You, Lord, who walk within Your ways!
Rejoicing in Your bounteous Word, they prosper all their days!
They prosper all their days, they prosper all their days!
Rejoicing in Your bounteous Word, they prosper all their days!

Read Matthew 5.1-12; meditate on verses 1 and 2

1. Where did Jesus go to teach the people?

2. Who sat closest to Him as He began to teach?

We’ll be looking at the sermon on the mount for the next several installments of our study of Matthew’s gospel, beginning, in this installment, with the beatitudes (Matt. 5.1-12). Chapters 5-7 present the foundational teachings of life in the Kingdom of God, and they deserve our careful consideration.

I find Matthew’s introduction to the sermon instructive. Jesus saw a multitude. He must have been getting used to that, even this early on in His ministry (cf. Matt. 4.24, 25). Jesus was wary of multitudes, however, since He knew what was in every person’s heart (Jn. 3.24), and He understood that a good many, if not most, of those people had come to Jesus because they wanted something from Him (cf. Jn. 6.26-67). That is, the people came in multitudes to Jesus because they heard He was blessing those with needs – those who were sick, diseased, demon-possessed, and so forth. Some may have been merely curious about Jesus, or perhaps they had other needs they wanted Him to satisfy (cf. Lk. 12.13, 14).

But Jesus was about to give the people something much more valuable. He was about to draw back the curtain on a new realm of existence – a new state of being and way of life. His teaching would throw down a gauntlet at the feet of those who heard Him, and would begin to distinguish Him as a teacher unlike any they had heard before.

So in view of the assembling multitude, Jesus headed up to the top of a nearby mountain. Would everyone follow Him? We don’t know. But we can imagine the groans and complaints of some in the crowd, who had already walked a long way to get to Jesus, only to have Him add to their trek by heading up a mountain!

There is also something very symbolic about His ascending the mountain to give this sermon. Just as Moses received the Law on the top of a mountain, Jesus would give a new Law – clarifying and enlarging the old Law – on the top of a mountain. Jesus is the new Moses, the new Law-giver (Jn. 13.34, 35), and the One Who gives not only the demands and promises of the Law, but the Law itself, in His life, death, and resurrection. In leading the multitudes up the mountain, Jesus also symbolically fulfilled – and pointed to an even greater fulfillment – of such prophecies as Micah 5.1-8. A new day of reversal had begun. Now all nations would flow to the mountaintop to know the blessings of God and His Word.

We also note the seating arrangement of this great sermon: Disciples (only four at this time) sitting nearest to Him, and whoever had the stamina to make the climb scattered out from there. Jesus wanted to make sure His disciples – those who had left all to follow Him – got every word He would speak. So He sat them in the front row, so to speak.

The message in this setting is clear: What Jesus teaches is important and demanding. If we’re coming to Jesus merely for what we want from Him, we might miss what He wants for us.

1. Is Jesus primarily in the business of meeting people’s needs? Explain.

2. Jesus made it harder for people to hear the sermon on the mount. What’s the message in this?

3. How can we make sure that, in coming to Jesus with our needs, we don’t miss what He thinks we need the most?

When the law was first given on the mountain, the people were forbidden to draw close. But now, as the Lord was teaching on the mountain, no one is forbidden. Rather, all are invited that they may hear, because there is severity in the law and grace in the gospel. In the former case, terror is instilled in the unbelievers. In the latter case, a gift of blessings is poured out on the believers.
Chromatius (ca. 400), Tractate on Matthew 17.1.3-4

Lord, help me to pay careful attention to Your every word, so that today, as I go out into my Personal Mission Field, I may…

Pray 128.2-6.
Give thanks to God for His many blessings. Ask Him to make you a blessing to the people you will see today.

Sing Psalm 128.3-6.
Psalm 128.3-6 (Fountain: There is a Fountain Filled with Blood)
Their homes with happy children bloom who fear Your holy Name.
Their tables and their every room declare Your glorious fame!
Declare Your glorious fame, declare Your glorious fame!
Their tables and their every room declare Your glorious fame!

O Lord, from Zion send Your peace, and prosp’rous make our ways.
Thus may Your blessings e’er increase upon us all our days!
Upon us all our days, upon us all our days!
Thus may Your blessings e’er increase upon all us all our days!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore