We are looking at the Sermon on the Mount on Sundays. As we were thinking about it, we found that there are a few different ways to see Jesus in the way Matthew presents him. I believe the Sermon on the Mount presents Jesus as God, King, and Moses. We will start a blog series to explore these three presentations of Jesus.
Jesus as God. I believe the first way to notice the perspective of Jesus as God on the Sermon we need to go back to Eden. There is a narrative pattern in the Bible that shows that humans meet God at the top of a mountain or high place. In Genesis, Eden is presented as being at the top of a mountain or high place. Eden was the place where humans were walking and talking with God, while learning or gaining wisdom on good and bad. Noah gets off the boat and is on a mountain and spends time with God. Abraham seems to be talking to God on a mountain all the time (Genesis 12, 13, 18, and 19). Moses is often in God's presence on mountain tops, including when he receives the covenant law. It alludes that David spends time near where Abraham set up his tents when he was with God. The temple mound in Jerusalem is known as a high place. The mound is the highest place in Jerusalem and where David planned to build the temple and where his son built the temple. Elijah has his encounter with God on a mountain after facing the Baal worshipers. So there is a pattern of God showing up and being present with humans in the Bible.
The way it is described is the people had begun to gather, and there were crowds. Jesus' people were closest and the crowds around them. Israel was called to be close to God and a light to the rest of the world. The disciples begin to pattern Israel, and eventually, twelve will be chosen just like the 12 tribes of Israel. If the disciples were symbolically Israel, that means Jesus at the center is God.
When I think of Jesus on the high place with people coming to him, I am reminded of the prophets who hoped and envisioned a day when God would come and be present among his people. God would establish a kingdom and write the new laws of a new covenant on their hearts. I cannot help but see Jesus fulfilling this hope in the way Matthew has presented him.
Scholar Scot McKnight believes to hear the Sermon on the Mount is to encounter Jesus. I think that equally means we encounter the God of the universe in the Sermon on the Mount. In this way, the Sermon on the Mount can be a tool of evangelism. I think its power lies in doing what God is supposed to do: challenge our world views, test us to reveal who we truly are, and help us to dream and envision more for ourselves and this world. I invite you to read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters five through seven with the lense as Jesus as the God who meets us on the Mountain.