In summary, the Sermon on the Mount is Christ’s ethic. It details how He lived. As you read the sermon know that Jesus fulfilled every aspect of His teaching in it. Therefore, the main purpose of Jesus’ teaching is to drive every Christian to his knees in dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying ...” (Matthew 5:1-2)
The beginning of Matthew Chapter 5 records the setting. The setting reveals the source, significance, and intended recipients of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus saw the crowds gathering and went up on the mountain. The crowds were gathering because of Jesus teaching and healing, as stated at the end of Chapter 4. The press of the crowds led Jesus to go up on a mountainside. Matthew didn’t identify the specific mountain. The main point was to show Jesus’ sovereign authority. He was sent from the Father and He taught as one who had authority!
The following five observations help us to understand Jesus’ teaching in its revealed context:
1. Jesus saw the crowds.
2. He went up on the mountain.
3. He sat down.
4. His disciples came to Him.
5. Jesus taught His disciples.
The mountain may have been in the region of Chorazin. Matthew didn’t specify which mountain. The significance is not in the exact mountain but that Jesus went up on it. The idea of a mountain was significant to the Jews.
God delivered the 10 Commandments from Mt. Sinai. So this description gives the impression that God was delivering His word from on high.
As I think of mountains, I immediately think of majesty. The Lord of Majesty, Jesus, sat down in a setting appropriate to His sovereign Lordship. Sitting down was the posture of a master teacher in the ancient world. So the Master of all sat down to teach from on high.
The first three observations concern where Jesus spoke and the significance of His posture. The final two observations concern Jesus’ intended recipients of His teaching.
His disciples came to Him and He taught them. The Sermon on the Mount had as its primary audience Jesus’ disciples. By implication, all that is contained is for followers of Jesus.
Next … “The Beatitudes.”
Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).