The Sermon on the Mount – What is it?
The Sermon on the Mount refers to the longest recorded sermon by Jesus found in the Bible, located in Matthew 5—7. Its name originates from Matthew 5:1-2 that introduces the message and reads, "Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying…"
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Rather than a focus on a single topic, the Sermon on the Mount covers a variety of issues that were important at that time and continue to resonate with people of all backgrounds today. In overview, they include:
5:3-12 — The Beatitudes
5:13-16 — Salt and Light
5:17-20 — Jesus fulfilled the Law
5:21-26 — Anger and Murder
5:27-30 — Lust and Adultery
5:31-32 — Divorce and Remarriage
5:33-37 — Oaths
5:38-42 — Eye for an Eye
5:43-48 — Love your enemies
6:1-4 — Give to the Needy
6:5-15 — How to Pray
6:16-18 — How to Fast
6:19-24 — Treasures in Heaven
6:25-34 — Do not worry
7:1-6 — Do not judge hypocritically
7:7-12 — Ask, Seek, Knock
7:13-14 — The Narrow Gate
7:15-23 — False Prophets
7:24-27 — The Wise Builder
Unlike the religious teachers of His day, Jesus spoke with authority rather than quoting the other leaders of His time. Instead, He frequently quoted passages from the Old Testament followed by additional instructions that spoke to the heart of the particular passage. For example, Jesus mentioned the teaching of the Mosaic Law of an "eye for an eye," meaning retribution was to match the crime. Yet Jesus used this example to speak of a higher love that would cause someone to turn the other cheek or accept hardship from others without seeking revenge or retribution.
At the conclusion of the sermon, we read, "And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes" (Matthew 7:28-29). His audience enjoyed His teachings and was surprised that He spoke so boldly and differently from their own religious teachers. This uniqueness led to Jesus being followed by many. It also prompted some religious leaders to seek His death in cooperation with Roman authorities who crucified Him. In the end, Jesus would live again, astonishing His followers by fulfilling the predications He had given in His own teachings (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
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