The Sermon on the Mount
Pope Shenouda III
March 24, 2022
Some people say that the insights of the “Sermon on the Mount” are the statutes and the regulations of Christianity. We append their highest instructions ever known to man. With these wisdoms, Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to all people proving that perfection can be offered to all human beings and our natural ability in inmost soul, the readiness to listen to these valuable instructions and highest principles, to love and be fully content in them, whatever obstacles meet in our own will of listening.
It was fitting that these heavenly words should be delivered from the top of a high mountain in order that the audience, during their ascent, might elevate their souls up to the standard of the ability to understand such instructions. Undoubtedly, he who sits on a mountain sees the things on earth as very small and tiny. We must not forget that the laws of ‘The Old Testament’ had been given from a mountain top where the people
could perceive the Most High in the Heavens, His greatness and His dignity.
It was therefore appropriate for Lord Jesus Christ to offer New Testament law to the people from a mountain top to remind them of Mount Sinai.
In his epistle to the Hebrews, Saint Paul the apostle, made a comparison between the two mountains. He said “For You have not come to a mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire; and to blackness and darkness and tempest , and the sound of trumpet and the voice words so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them,But you have come to Mount Zion, and to city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.” (Hebrew 12 :18- 24)
Contrary to the New Testament, the laws of the Old Testament were given in a way which filled a person with fear, such that Moses the prophet, said “I am trembling with fear.” (Hebrew 12:21)
Lord Jesus Christ used to speak gently. In the beginning of His blessings He was praising meekness. The people neither feared fire, fog nor earthquakes. They did not need a mediator like Moses to convey God’s word to them. The Lord was among His sons, speaking to them as a loving father. He said “The people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:29)
It was good that the Lord spoke to them from the top of a mountain where nothing could disturb their senses. Being the cause for their concentration on the words of Lord Jesus.
He spoke to them where there were no obstacles, away from the town with its brilliance, amusement, enjoyment, anxiety and crowds. No worries or entertainment, whether at home or at work, was of a disturbance. But only God alone filled their thoughts. Nothing could destruct their attention or keep their senses and thoughts away. Mar Isaac was correct when he said, “A mere look at the wilderness can mortify all worldly desires in man’s heart.” This is why Lord Jesus used to take the people to remote and deserted places. (Luke 9:10) Sometimes He took them to the sea-shore or around a lake. The most important thing was to keep them far from materialism and worldly affairs, so for them to devote themselves to Him, as the Lord had told Abram to leave his country, his people and his father’s household. (Genesis 12: 1)
Lord Jesus Christ’s Grace, His instructions, the testimony of John the Baptist, the consultation of His disciples and His miracles attracted the people. His reputation as “The man of the multitudes” remained with Him till the time of His crucifixion. He was continually followed by thousands and surrounded with crowds everywhere.
The elders spoke of Him and said “Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” (John 12:19) It was also said about Him “All the people were very attentive to hear Him.” (Luke 19:48). He took them to the mountain as He had with Moses in the past.
In the past, Elijah had lived his life on a mountain Karmal Mountain Even Elisha and the sons of the prophets lived there. John the Baptist lived his life in the wilderness as Elijah. The mountain became an influence in the life of Lord Jesus
Himself. It was said about Him in “Song of Songs” “Behold! He comes, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.” (Song 2:8). After His baptism, Lord Jesus spent forty days praying on a mountain.
On wards Holy Spirit descended like a dove and enlightened Lord Jesus before He began His service; there was a time in which He lived in retreat and seclusion. During that period He laid down the fundamental principles of the program of His service. These principles seemed clear when Lord Jesus was face to face with the devil on this mountain which was afterwards called “The Mount of Temptation.”
From the Mount of Temptation to the Mount of the Sermon, then to the Mount of Olives.
The Mount of Olives was one of the places pleasing to Lord Jesus and loved by Him. It was the place of His retreats which He continually visited, spending His time in contemplation and prayers and enjoying the best relationship with, “The Father.” How beautiful were the words of John were when he wrote, “And everyone went to his own house. But Lord Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.” (John 7:53, 8:1).
The Mount of Olives (one of His glorious mountains) is said to be the place from which Jesus was taken up into Heaven. (Acts 1:9,12)
Since Lord Jesus was fond of life on mountains, it was not strange for Him to deliver this famous sermon at the top of a mountain. Even Matthew, the evangelist said about Him “And seeing the multitude, He went up on a mountain, then He opened His mouth and taught them saying …” (Matthew 5:1,2)
While on the mountain, the people could not see anything above them but the sky and the endless horizon. There was no material interference. In such beautiful surroundings, under an endless sky, being away from materialism, they listened to the Lord when He opened His mouth and spoke to them.
He Opened His Mouth: Perhaps some may ask, “What does the phrase ‘He opened His mouth’ mean?”
Saint Augustine said, “On this occasion, Lord Jesus opened His own mouth because, on past occasions He used to open the mouths of the prophets in order that they might speak to the people…”
Saint Paul the Apostle said, “God , who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets… has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” (Hebrew 1:1,2)
It means that Lord Jesus, on giving His sermon on the mount and on delivering other sermons, did not teach us through the prophets but opened His own mouth and spoke to us.
Saint John Chrysostom says, “Lord Jesus opened His mouth and spoke to the people because in the past years, He used to talk with them and teach them by giving instructive examples without opening His mouth.
Observations On The Contents Of The Sermon
- 1. The sermon gives a comprehensive answer to those who teach that faith alone is sufficient saying “Only, Have ”
The whole sermon comprises of spiritual behavior. No word was said about faith. It is a discourse about the great virtues, purity of the heart, models of good manners, treatment of people, prayers, fasting, and the proper understanding of the Old Testament Commandments.
It ends with spiritual benefits (works and the verses): “You will know them by their fruits. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:16,24)
- 2. The Lord spoke about practical life. He mentioned nothing about rituals or practices and habits which the teachers of the Law used to discuss with the Jews. Thus His words affected the depths of people’s
- He spoke about perfection and conversed with all persons equally. He talked with men, women, the elderly; people of different spiritual standards and ages. He would lay before them what must be done. He helped them to ascend to the highest levels of glory. He let each person act according to their own capabilities and gifts. He did not let them stop at a certain point on their spiritual journey and said to them, “Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
- On delivering the “Sermon on the Mount,” Lord Jesus presented God as a heavenly Father. He repeated the phrase “Your heavenly Father” and its synonyms about eleven times. He also taught the people to pray saying, “Our Father in
Heaven…”This assures the mutual understanding of love between God and man.
- Many times, He also repeated the words “The Kingdom” and “The Heavens.” This is how He was able to change their passion for having earthly possessions, into that for a heavenly kingdom, high above the standard of the world and its materialism.
- He did not address the subject of people’s emotions or their paranoia. He did not talk as one who wished to save them from Roman slavery, but preached saying, “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also; and whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two miles and not to resist an evil person.” (Matthew 5:39-41)
He wished them to be adorned with inner purity and not with outer haughtiness.
O’ my Lord! Who would find it easy to be devoted to You when You say, “Blessed are the poor” or “whoever slaps You on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” or when You say “Do not resist an evil person?”
Perhaps He would respond “I did not come in order that someone might have devotion towards Me; I came to cleanse these hearts even if they would crucify Me. This is why there is no hesitation to begin My speech to them with this verse ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Sermon on the mount about Judgment Day
The disciples eager to know the second coming of Lord Jesus asked about judgment day. Lord Jesus then taught them about ever signs to ensue on earth. Inc scripted as in the Bible the following are the Signs. (Matthew 3-24:36)
The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
The Great Tribulation
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christ’s and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
The Coming of the Son of Man
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The Parable of the Fig Tree
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
No One Knows the Day or Hour
Lord Jesus finally said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
So Dear Brethren, as none of us know judgment and the forth coming of tomorrow, we shall always be ready by engaging with good endeavors and work of God.
May God have mercy on all of us, Amen!