Image: View of the Mount of the Beatitudes, Israel.
Note: Devotion take from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 5:1-6.
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth and taught them… (Matthew 5:1-2).
Most would agree that in the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew chapters 5-7 one finds the heart of the moral and ethical teaching of the Lord Jesus. Augustine of Hippo called it, “A perfect standard of the Christian life.”
The setting for the sermon is given in Matthew 5:1-2.
Notice first, that Christ’s teaching came as he saw the multitudes coming out to him (v. 1a).
Most of these people had been attracted to Christ due to his miraculous healing ministry (see 4:24-25). By turning to teaching, perhaps Christ was saying to them, “What good does it do if a man has a healthy body but a sick, twisted, diseased, and deformed spirit?”
Notice second, that he went up into a mountain. If you were to go to Israel today you would find a site now known as the Mount of the Beatitudes (also known as Mount Eremos) where some believe the sermon was given.
The elevated site of the teaching reflects the elevated doctrine conveyed there. Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the law of God. Christ goes up on a mountain not to receive God’s law but directly to speak it. Here is the true Lawgiver who is greater than Moses.
Notice third, that he taught them from a seated position (“when he was set”).
When we think today about public speaking (teaching or preaching), we assume the speaker is standing. But in Christ’s day authoritative teaching was often done while seated. Christ stood to read the law at the synagogue in Nazareth, and then sat to teach (cf. Luke 4:16-21). In Matthew 23, Christ denounced the scribes and the Pharisees who “sit in Moses’ seat” (v. 2). Christ speaks in this sermon with settled authority.
Notice fourth, he spoke to his disciples (see vv. 1b-2).
The Lord Jesus had just called the four fishermen to become his disciples (4:18-22). Now the multitudes followed him for healing (4:25). No doubt, not all in this crowd were authentic disciples. Many were likely among those who later “went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). But his true disciples were also there (perhaps including Matthew the tax collector, who was later called; see Matt 9:9).
This teaching is for followers of Christ. It is insider communication. When we read, study, and meditate upon this sermon, we, like those first disciples, are seated at the feet of the Lord Jesus as he opens his mouth to teach us.
Lord, help us to listen.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle