The man of St Matthew

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: Overview

Introduction

Coming to chapter 5 means we have now come to the Sermon on the Mount, perhaps the most famous of all Jesus' teachings. We begin therefore with an overview of the sermon, chapters 5 to 7, before we come to our overview of the chapter.
The influence of this sermon over the centuries has been enormous and for many the Sermon is the essence of Christianity. However, as always, the Sermon must be read within its context, that of the Gospel of Matthew and of the New Testament as a whole. The Sermon as the first teaching of Jesus in the Gospel has an important place in the unfolding of the story. Yet the story will continue to the cross and resurrection.

Our aim in our reading must be kept simple as part of our purpose of reading the story of the Gospel. We will read carefully what the evangelist says and not get too involved with the many issues of interpretation which have been discussed. We will also take particular note of the background to Jesus' teaching, mainly that of the Old Testament.

Overview of the Sermon

The Sermon on the Mount unfolds over three chapters of the Gospel, 5, 6 and 7. We will as usual use the chapters as the basis of our reading even though they are not necessarily the best guide.
First therefore we need an overview of those three chapters so read now through the Sermon. This first reading is not a detailed reading; the aim is get an idea of the content and the flow of the Sermon. Jot down therefore what strikes you as the various sections and units of the sermon.
Consider if there is a contrast between the presentation in 5,3-6,18 and in 6,19-7,12.
Look especially at 5,48 and 7,12: why might I regard these two verses as specially significant in the development of the sermon?

What is common in the introduction and ending, 5,1-2 and 7,28-29? What does this tell us about the sermon?

Look now at my response.

Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6

Much of Jesus's teaching in the Sermon is also found in the Gospel of Luke, but presented in a very different way. Many of the parallels in Luke are found among the teachings of Jesus during his lengthy journey to Jerusalem.
Luke though does have a much shorter Sermon on the Plain in chapter 6. It's useful for our reading of Matthew for you to do a simple comparison between the two, to see what Luke has omitted from the Sermon on the Mount. List the teachings in Luke therefore and see if there is a parallel with the Matthew.

As usual, a comparison between two evangelists can be a useful tool for our reading. We will therefore be refering to Luke when it would be helpful.

Look now at my response.

We our next step towards reading the Sermon is now our overview of chapter 5.