Jesus’ Life and Ministry
The Most Famous Sermon Ever Given
THE scene is one of the most memorable in Bible history: Jesus seated on a mountainside, delivering his famous Sermon on the Mount. The site is near the Sea of Galilee, probably close to Capernaum. Jesus had spent the whole night in prayer to God, and the following morning he had chosen 12 of his disciples to be apostles. Then, along with all of them, he had come down to this level place on the mountain.
By now, you would think, Jesus would be very tired and would want some sleep. But great crowds have come, some all the way from Judea and Jerusalem, 60 to 70 miles (100 to 110 km) away. Others have come from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon to the north. They have come to hear Jesus and to be healed of their sicknesses. There are even persons who are troubled by the demons.
As Jesus comes down, sick people draw close to touch him, and he heals them all. Afterward, Jesus apparently climbs to a higher place on the mountain. There he sits down and begins teaching the crowds spread out on the level place before him. And think of it! Now there is not even one person in the entire audience who is suffering from a serious infirmity!
The people are eager to hear the teacher who is able to perform these amazing miracles. Jesus, however, delivers his sermon mainly for the benefit of his disciples, who are probably gathered around closest to him. But so that we can benefit, too, both Matthew and Luke have recorded it.
Matthew’s account of the sermon is about four times as long as Luke’s. Moreover, portions of what Matthew records, Luke presents as being said by Jesus at another time during his ministry, as can be noted by comparing Matthew 6:9-13 with Luke 11:1-4, and Matthew 6:25-34 with Luke 12:22-31. Yet this should not be surprising. Jesus obviously taught the same things more than once, and Luke chose to record some of these teachings in a different setting.
What makes Jesus’ sermon so valuable is not only the depth of its spiritual contents but the simplicity and clarity with which he presented these truths. He drew on ordinary experiences and used things familiar to people, thus making his ideas easily understood by all who are seeking a better life in God’s way. In our following issues we will examine some of the things he said. Luke 6:12-20; Matthew 5:1, 2.
◆ Where was Jesus’ most memorable sermon given, who were present, and what had occurred just prior to his giving it?
◆ Why is it not surprising that Luke records some teachings of the sermon in another setting?
◆ What makes Jesus’ sermon so valuable?