What lessons can we learn from the Sermon on the Mount? Below are some of my thoughts.
“He Went Up”
Before giving his Sermon on the Mount, the Savior had gained popularity because of the miracles he had wrought. Just a few verses before that great Sermon, in Matthew 4:23-25, we’re told,
“…And his fame went throughout all Syria…. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.”
This group followed him because of the miracles they had seen, including the miracles of healing, and not necessarily for the doctrine he taught.
What I find intriguing, though, is that before he begins his Sermon on the Mount, he draws the proverbial line in the sand. The scriptures tell us that, “seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain” (Matthew 5:1). Presumably, the multitudes were aware that this was going to be a time for preaching and not for miracle working, and “his disciples came unto him” (emphasis added). Those who were not disciples – members of the multitude more interested only in miracles – stayed behind.
Did the Savior command people to stay behind? It would be hard to infer that, particularly since at other occasions he bids all to come unto him. He simply climbed a mountain. Members of the multitude remained behind because hearing the message was not worth the effort.
The Law of Moses, given on Mount Sinai, was conversely brought down to the people. This was done both figuratively and literally. Moses carried it down to the people waiting below. We also know that it was a lesser law, meant to point forward to the gospel of the Savior. The Gospel of Christ, given (in part) as the Sermon on the Mount, invites us up, again both figuratively and literally. We have to climb the mountain to receive it. We know that it is the higher law, meant to aid us in governing not only our actions, but our thoughts, feelings, and even inactions.
I like to think that I follow the Savior, or that I’m generally a good person. When I really examine my behavior, though, I realize how greatly I fall short. And what keeps me from living the gospel? I am too complacent and comfortable at the foot of the mountains, and feel like it would be too much to climb up to where the Savior is.
What are my mountains? What are yours? The greatest blessings in life are available only from following the Savior and inviting his Spirit into our lives, but so often I think about my short term comfort and refuse to climb and be up with him. May we remember that real joy is found with the Savior, up with him on the mountain tops, and not complacently resting at the mountain foot.
Continuing the Series
- Thoughts from the Sermon on the Mount – Mountains
- Thoughts from the Sermon on the Mount – Salt
- Thoughts from the Sermon on the Mount – Light