Seeing a multitude of people, Jesus went up on a mountain and began teaching them. The most prolonged continuous discourse of Jesus’ teaching is found in (Matthew 5-7). His words are not what people were expecting. His teaching would have certainly caused people to notice Him as they looked within themselves to search their hearts. This body of teaching is often referred to as The Sermon on the Mount. What was it about this teaching that turned the world upside down? What was Jesus saying as He addressed the multitude?
image credit: Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch (1877); https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bloch-SermonOnTheMount.jpg
It is helpful for us to turn back a bit and notice how Matthew sets up the sermon to understand what Jesus is saying. As Matthew pens his account of the life and ministry of Jesus, he is very purposeful in his construction. He desires for readers to understand the importance of Jesus and this teaching.
John the Baptist has prepared the way for Jesus. In (Matt. 3-4), Jesus passes through the waters of baptism and then is led into the wilderness. Seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up on a mountain and began teaching (ref. Matt. 5:1). The imagery, as it is set up in our minds, is rich and powerful. Our thoughts are flooded with this imagery as we are taken back to another journey through the wilderness. A time when the Hebrews were led out of captivity, passing through the Red Sea, where they entered the wilderness. Another compelling image is that of ascending the mountain. Moses ascended Mt. Sinai where he received the law that he delivered to the multitudes. As Jesus went up on the mountain, the multitudes that followed Him surely would have seen the vivid image of Moses, an image Matthew intends for his readers to see as well. Matthew wants us to see that Jesus is the Prophet spoken of by Moses, the One to whom we are to listen.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.
Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (ESV)
As Moses delivered the Law to the people the power and authority of God were seen from the mountain. Jesus, from the mountain, comes to deliver the good news of God’s kingdom. His words are powerful. The kingdom message is not what people were expecting and as He concludes His teaching, the people are amazed because Jesus spoke as one with authority (ref. Matt. 7:29).
Seeing how Matthew sets up Jesus’ teaching in chapters 5-7 helps us understand what Jesus was doing as He addressed the multitudes. It helps us to know why the world was turned upside down through the good news of God’s kingdom message delivered through Jesus.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Dt 18:15–19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.