The Beatitudes - Introduction
In this weeks blog I want to begin going through the Beatitudes. This week we will be exploring the first two verses in this passage of scripture, to set the scene of the Sermon on the Mount and to also explore the context in which Jesus taught the Beatitudes.
Matthew 5:1-12 (NIV)
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
Part of the context behind this verse is that Jesus had just preached throughout Galilee (Matthew 4:23-25) so there was a large crowd of people following Him in order to try and speak with him/listen to him. Because of the large crowds following Jesus, the disciples would have been getting a lot of attention from the people, almost being regarded as celebrities because of their close relationships with Jesus. This meant that they would have been not only receiving attention and acclaim but potentially gifts/valuable offerings too. So when we look at the fact that Jesus saw the crowds and then left to go up on a mountainside it can come across like Jesus is trying to avoid the crowds of people. However, If we look at the content of the Sermon on the Mount we can find significance in the fact that Jesus chose to teach it from a 'mountainside'. The mountainside was a high place and was a symbol of how this message should be given to the people.
The Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes as part of it have become a cornerstone of the Christian message and the fact that Jesus taught these things from a mountainside shows both the importance of the message and the freedom of the message. The message that Jesus was about to teach was one that he intended to be shared.
I found this quote from Spurgeon particularly useful to grasp this idea:
“A crypt or cavern would have been out of all character for a message which is to be published upon the housetops, and preached to every creature under heaven.”
When we read the part of verse 1 that says 'His disciples cam to him', we might assume that this is referring to the twelve disciples that were the close friends of Jesus. However, if we explore the context of this part of the verse we can see that it is in fact referring to the larger group of followers that Jesus had amassed during his journey. There were more than likely a large group of disciples that followed Jesus from his previous teaching that were unknown and not named amongst the twelve. This again shows that Jesus' intention was for this message to be shared with the masses.
So, now that we can see the importance of the portion of scripture we are about to start looking at and the intended audience. Next week we will start to look at the Beatitudes and work our way through them.
I pray that we might be bold enough to 'publish' the message of Christ on our housetops and preach it to every creature under heaven.