The Chronological Gospel –

The Sermon on the Plain

Matthew 8:1-4, Luke 6:17-26, Jesus cures a leper, possibly on the way down the hillside, and begins to preach
Luke 6:27-49, Sermon on the Plain, concluded
Luke 7:1-5, Matthew 8:7, Luke 7:6-9, Matthew 8:11-13, Luke 7:10, The healing of the centurion’s servant at a distance
Luke 7:11-17, A young man restored to life

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Matthew 8:1-4, Luke 6:17-26, Jesus cures a leper, possibly on the way down the hillside, and begins to preach (4/7/14)

There are several reasons that I think the Sermons on the Mount and on the Plain are separate, and one is that both Matthew and Luke say that Jesus came “down” from the hills before he went to Capernaum. Matthew reports a long sermon before Jesus came down, and Luke reports a shorter sermon immediately after he came down. So yeah, the sermons are similar, and we are surprised why? Anyway, here we are going to treat them as two separate sermons, so there will be a little overlap in content.

When Jesus came down from the hills, a large crowd met him, among whom was leper. We might be a little taken aback that the leper thought Jesus might be unwilling to cure him. Remember that most scribes and Pharisees would never even consider coming near a leper, because lepers were unclean and untouchable under the Law of Moses. Fortunately, we don’t make Jesus unclean; he makes us clean.

Notice that this time when Jesus preaches the Beatitudes, he supplements them with woes.

Luke 6:27-49, Sermon on the Plain, concluded (4/8/14)

We know that Matthew and Luke were writing for different audiences and for different purposes. Matthew wrote primarily for Jewish Christians and seekers, and he emphasized – using many quotations from the scriptures – that Jesus was the rightful king and true Messiah of the Jewish people. Luke wrote for well-educated Gentile Christians or seekers (or maybe just one), and he tends to emphasize Christ’s saving work for the whole world.

The material in today’s reading from Luke is similar to what we read earlier from Matthew, but overall the Sermon on the Plain is much shorter than the Sermon on the Mount. Scholars who think that they are the same sermon will tell you that Matthew added some sayings from other occasions and that Luke left things out that he didn’t think would interest his audience. I think that there were two sermons, and that Matthew and Luke each reported either the one he heard or the one he thought would appeal to his own audience.

However, nobody knows for sure, so you are allowed to think what you want about whether there were two sermons or one. Anyone who disagrees with you is also allowed to think what he wants, so state your case without arguing.

Luke 7:1-5, Matthew 8:7, Luke 7:6-9, Matthew 8:11-13, Luke 7:10, The healing of the centurion’s servant at a distance (4/9/14)

Back when I worked for a living, I did a lot of projects for a certain government department, which I won’t name in order to protect them from embarrassment. My observation was that no one in that department could give an order and expect it to be obeyed, not even the Secretary of the Department!

After Jesus preached the Sermon on the Plain, he went home to Capernaum, where he received an unusual request. More accurately, he received a request from an unusual petitioner. I’m not completely happy with Weymouth’s use of the word “captain.” The man was a centurion, which is a captain, but a Roman captain, that is, a captain in the occupying Gentile army. No doubt Jesus would have healed the centurion’s servant just because he asked, or just because the Jewish elders asked on his behalf. To Jesus’ mind, however, what made the incident worthy of comment was the Gentile centurion’s tremendous faith. “Sir, you don’t even have to come here. I know all about orders, and I know that if you give the order, it will be a done deal.” Jesus said he had never seen such faith even in Israel!

Today’s reading is from the Weymouth New Testament.
Luke 7:11-17, A young man restored to life (4/10/14)

Jesus cured the centurion’s servant in Capernaum, and then “shortly afterwards” went to a town called Nain, which according to our map (C3 on this map) is about 20 miles southwest, as the crow flies. There seems to be a big mountain in the way, so probably closer to 40 miles on foot. Forty miles on foot for a group of guys is somewhere between four easy days and one really hard day (presuming that they weren’t carrying much). This leads to an interesting observation.

If you count all the days that we have accounted for in Jesus’ ministry, it falls way short of the three years that we normally think about. Why? I can only speculate (and as a matter of fact I haven’t read any speculations by scholars, so it probably isn’t important at all). Here are my main ideas: I think Jesus probably gave much the same sermon in Capernaum and Nain as he given on the Mount and on the Plain, but only the two miracles he performed are recorded. I personally do not entertain the idea that Jesus taught really important stuff that was not recorded by the gospel writers.

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). 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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