"Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying..."
The words that follow this passage have been known as the 'Sermon on the Mount' for centuries and they have been relied on and trusted in since Jesus first spoke them nearly two-thousand years ago. However, these two verses that precede Jesus' great Sermon should not be ignored because they do not at first seem grandiose and especially powerful. These words that we find written in the first two verses of Matthew's fifth chapter are pregnant with implications. Let us look at the verse that comes directly before these; Matthew, chapter four, verse 25 states that, "Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him." A great multitude had heard Jesus speak in the synagogues; many of them had felt his healing touch. Miracles had been wrought. Jesus was fast becoming a celebrity and found himself gaining quite the following. He was leading a multitude of men, women and children; teaching them the true path to God. However, this was not the first time that this had occurred...
Almost 1500 years prior to Jesus' coming, a man brought about great feats through the power of God. He gathered together a large multitude of followers and led them out of the harsh slavery of Egypt. Miracles had been wrought. Moses lead his people to Sinai where he, like Jesus, went "up on a mountainside" and received a teaching from Almighty God. In Exodus, chapter 19, Moses ascends Sinai in order to receive God's law. After communing with God, Moses returns to the people of Israel with the law that would come to define them, we know them today as the Ten Commandments.
I challenge you to read Matthew, chapters 5-7. Over the next few weeks, I hope that we can go over these chapters together in order to see what defines a Christian. Jesus told his disciples, "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15). Let's look at what Jesus has commanded us so that we can love him fully. Once we comprehend the Sermon on the Mount; we will begin to understand what defines us as Christians. Let's learn to live as Christ would have us live.