We have passed over the hills of Galilee so often with Jesus that now we are getting quite familiar with the land.
We are now walking with a multitude which has gathered from Caopernaum and Tiberias, and perhaps, Magdala.
Almost ten miles have been covered, and we reach a curious-looking hill, which rises rather higher than the hills around and ends in two twin peaks, like horns. From their summit the view extends over most of Galilee, to Mount Hermon, in the far north.
But why have we come so far? Jesus is near, and his twelve disciples. They have gone to the small grassy plain between those horn-like hills. Thither is the multitude wending its way and we follow too.
Now we see Jesus sit down and gather around him the twelve, whilst outside this chosen circle the multitude is seated. Then Jesus begins to speak, in the “audience of the people.” Those he addresses especially are his disciples.
Though we should like to speak particularly of all that Jesus said we shall not be able to. But we can make a choice of his words.
He first pronounces a blessing upon those who are not haughty and proud, but poor in spirit and meek; upon those who are merciful and peaceable; upon those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and are willing to suffer persecution, taunts, reviling, for its sake; upon those who are pure in thought.
Then he compares what God requires with what the Pharisees taught.
“When you wish to give a gift, to do a good deed, to help your neighbour, do not tell all and sundry what you are about to do, or what you have done. The Pharisees do that in the streets and synagogues that men may see them. But rather do good deeds so quietly that only God in heaven and yourself know.
“And when you pray, do not stand so that all men see you, but pray secretly at home, and do not continually make vain repetitions, and think that God will hear for your much speaking, but after this manner pray: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen’
“Do not be anxious about what you shall eat, or drink, or wear. The birds neither sow nor reap, nor store, yet God feeds them. The lilies toil not, neither do they spin, Yet Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Do not be worried over these things; if you seek the Kingdom of God, God will give you them,
“Do not judge others, for you may even be doing as they. See to your own righteousness first, and then you may be the more able to help another to become righteous.
“Beware whom you follow. There is a sure test of men. If they do good works imitate their works, if they do evil they are evil men; shun them. By their fruits you shall know them.
“I will liken those who hear these words of mine and do them to a man who built his house on a rock. And when the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, the house stood firm, for it was founded upon a rock. But he who hears these words and does them not is like one who built on sand. When the rains fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, the house fell for its foundations were washed from under it.”
And 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.
From The Life of Jesus Christ by W.R. Mitchell
Read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5,6,7.
Painting by Ivan Makarov, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
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