This painting by the Danish artist Carl Heinrich Bloch depicts Jesus teaching His disciples at what we call the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew chapters 5-7.
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, saying, (Matthew 5:1-2 KJV)
I’ll hope you click on the reference to read those three chapters, or pick up your Bible to do so. There’s a great deal of Christian beliefs defined in Jesus words. Many of these verses are used stand alone to offer solace or uplift hearts. A few are used as pejoratives to express contempt toward professing Christians who do not live up to standards set by men.
Jesus took His disciples up into a mountain – the verse does not describe the multitudes accompanying them, but it is possible others besides the disciples heard His words. Matthew was inspired to write them down. The other gospels include the lessons, too, indicating He was consistent in His descriptions and sermons.
How they were received, though, is of interest. He was with these disciples for only three years. How long have we spent learning from one person outside of family? Our parents, yes. Our spouse, yes. Our children, yes – we do learn from them. But a non-family member? How long?
Yes, I have had friendships that lasted years, but I’ve never spent three years traveling and discussing religion with one person.
These disciples did not get the message in those three years, either, did they? They heard Him prophesy His death, but abandoned Him at Gethsemane. Peter followed to see what would happen, but ended up denying Him three times, as He prophesied. None of them buried Him and only women came to see to His funeral Sunday morning.
One was the reason He was taken at the garden. For that, he received money, which was appropriate since he saw after their finances. Judas’ guilt brought anger, regret, a change regarding his desire for money – but no indication that he turned to God to acknowledge his sin. His actions show no indication that he believed Jesus’ messages. Yet could have at the very last moment of life asked to be remembered when Jesus’ kingdom came. A thief did, and received a promise. (Luke 23:39-43)
These three chapters are filled with Jesus’ teachings – many of them familiar through multiple tellings, both in and out of churches. How we apply them to our own lives tells much about ourselves. Too often we see other’s examples where we should see ourselves. It would do us good to remember one very short verse:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 KJV)
How can we do the will of God until we study what is known of God? I believe that comes through scripture, as Paul wrote Timothy:
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:15-17 KJV)
That’s where we get our doctrine – which astounded people as the Sermon on the Mount closed:
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29 KJV)