The Chronological Gospel –

The Sermon on the Mount

Mark 3:7-12, Matthew 12:17-21, Healing by the lake
Luke 6:12-13, Mark 3:14b-19, The twelve apostles
Matthew 5:1-18, Our purpose in the world
Matthew 5:19-47, New standards higher than the old
Matthew 5:48 – 6:18, Sincerity of worship
Matthew 6:19-34, True value and worry
Matthew 7:1-29, Several parables

More of The Chronological Gospel

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Mark 3:7-12, Matthew 12:17-21, Healing by the lake (3/27/14)

Very often when you get the same story in Mark and Matthew, Matthew adds a quotation from the Old Testament. The Weymouth New Testament always puts these quotations in ALL CAPS. Weymouth isn’t shouting, he’s just quoting. How does your Bible indicate that vss. 18-21 quote the OT? (If there’s no indication at all, consider getting yourself a new study Bible, with footnotes, cross-references, quotation marks, etc.)

Anyway, Jesus wouldn’t let the demons say who he was, and lots of people have wondered why. Several ideas have been suggested. These are my favorites: Nobody knows for sure, so you can think what you want about it. So can people who disagree with you.

Luke 6:12-13, Mark 3:14b-19, The twelve apostles (3/28/14)

Because you’ve been paying close attention to the readings, you have noticed that enormous crowds started following Jesus everywhere he went in Galilee. Many of these people came to be cured or just to see the show: here today, gone tomorrow. Many of them, however, wanted to hear what he had to say, and all of the latter are called “disciples.” Disciple means student. You need to study the context of any verse that refers to Jesus’ “disciples,” because very often it is talking about a lot of people, not just the “twelve disciples” that we normally think of. This is especially clear in today’s reading. Jesus calls his disciples and then selects twelve of them to be apostles. Apostle means emissary.

There’s a children’s song that says, “There were twelve disciples Jesus called to help him.” That’s exactly right – Jesus did call twelve disciples to help him – but there were and are thousands of other disciples as well, including you and me. He has called us, too.

Matthew 5:1-18, Our purpose in the world (3/31/14)

Okay, I told you before that once in a while I disagree with Dr. Daniel’s chronology, and we are just entering one of those periods of time. Dr. Daniel – like most people, I think – believed that the Sermon on the Mount reported by Matthew and the Sermon on the Plain reported by Luke are the same sermon. I – like a minority of scholars – disagree. My mother-in-law used to say, “My house, my wules.” So, “My email, my chwonology.”

Here’s why I think there are two separate but similar sermons: There is overlapping material, to be sure. But there’s also quite a bit of unique material in Matthew’s and Luke’s report. There are two different settings and two different crowds, as well. I think there were two different sermons.

Matthew 5:19-47, New standards higher than the old (4/1/14)

Jesus’ demand that his followers’ righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees must have come as a great surprise to the Jews who were listening to him. The Pharisees in particular were the most devout and Law-abiding group around. Jesus said, however, that following the Law isn’t enough. Jesus sets us a standard much higher than the Law of Moses: the Law of Love.

By the way, since Jesus cautions several times in this passage not to depend entirely on what you have been told by your teachers, I should remind you not to take my word for anything. If I or your Sunday School teacher or your pastor or your rabbi teaches you something wrong and you do it, we will be in deep trouble. Please do us all a favor: read the Bible for yourself and put it into practice!

Matthew 5:48 – 6:18, Sincerity of worship (4/2/14)

You might be interested in comparing the prophet Jeremiah’s words in Jeremiah 7 with Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount. God is consistent in caring more about the sincerity of our worship than the form, which is a good thing for us to remember when we consider the differences between our denomination and those of our fellow Christians.

Matthew 6:19-34, True value and worry (4/3/14)

An entire industry – advertising – is devoted to making you worry that you don’t have “enough,” that is, enough of whatever a particular advertiser’s client is selling. The worries that Jesus lists are pretty much the same ones that the world encourages. We worry that we don’t have enough money, we don’t have nice enough clothes, our food doesn’t taste good enough, we aren’t attractive enough, and we don’t have enough saved that we will have enough when we retire. Jesus says, “That’s enough! God knows what you need, so don’t worry!”

Matthew 7:1-29, Several parables (4/4/14)

The Sermon on the Mount is so long that some scholars occasionally suggest that it is Matthew’s compilation of things Jesus said on several different occasions. Anything is possible, I suppose, but many preachers in the past few hundred years are well documented as preaching for hours at a time to very large crowds, without cameras or microphones. So I say, why don’t we just take Matthew’s word for it that Jesus spoke at some length to this particular crowd?

Jesus was a great teacher who used many different methods and styles of teaching depending on the situation. Two characteristics of his teaching stand out, however: his use of parables, and his authoritative voice. Parables are little stories with one theological point, and they can range from one-liners, like “Beware of the false teachers – men who come to you in sheep’s fleeces, but beneath that disguise they are ravenous wolves,” to elaborate allegories, like the Parable of the Sower. This portion of the Sermon on the Mount contains seven brief parables.

The other thing about Jesus’ teachings is that he presented his own material on his own authority, although he frequently referred to the Law of Moses and to the prophets. The Scribes of vs. 29 were much more likely to repeat what they learned from their own teachers and maybe to present contrasting views from other people’s teachers. There are quite a few references to how amazed the crowds were at Jesus’ style of teaching.

More of The Chronological Gospel

Birth Announcements and Early Lives of Jesus and John the Baptist
Early Ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist
Jesus’ Early Ministry
Jesus’ Galilean Ministry
Sabbath Controversies
The Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Plain
John the Baptist
Signs and Parables
Miracles and Mission Trips
Bread of Life
Miracles and Meanings
Transfiguration and Teachings
To Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles
Some Results of Luke’s Research
More of Luke’s Research
On the Road Again
The Raising of Lazarus
Holy Week: Palm Sunday and Monday
Holy Week: Tuesday, Parables and Questions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 1, Discussions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 2, Be Ready!
Holy Week: Thursday Part 1, Jesus' Celebration of the Passover
Holy Week: Thursday Part 2, Jesus' Farewell Discourse
Holy Week: Friday Part 1, Jesus' Arrest and Two Informal Trials
Holy Week: Friday Part 2, More Trials
Holy Week: Friday, Part 3, and Saturday, Jesus' Death and Burial
The Empty Tomb
Final Appearances of Jesus Prior to Pentecost

Copyright 2014 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. Scripture readings are from the Weymouth New Testament (1912); caps indicate quotations from the Old Testament. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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