Saint Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church
He began to teach them. (Matthew 5:2)
1 Kings 17:1-6; Psalm 121:1-8;Matthew 5:1-12
For years, scholars and theologians have debated the structure and meaning of the Sermon on the Mount. Did Jesus really give this “sermon” in one sitting as Matthew presents it here? Many experts are not sure. Some point to the similarities with—and differences from—Luke’s “sermon on the plain” (Luke 6:17-49) to show how flexible these sayings are.
Perhaps this sermon really is Matthew’s unique compilation of a number of teachings that Jesus gave over the course of his ministry. Weaving them together as one long sermon that Jesus gives on a hillside, Matthew reminds the readers of Moses, who also brought God’s law to the people on a mountainside. For Matthew, Jesus’ teaching is a new law, just as Jesus is the fulfillment of Moses, the original lawgiver.
Looking at these issues, as well as similar issues raised by other Gospel passages, several things become evident. For one, it seems that the four men who wrote the Gospels were out to do more than just record history. They were prophetic theologians, not newspaper reporters. They were commissioned by God to paint portraits of Jesus that would endure until the end of time. The Spirit worked through these four men, empowering them to give a legacy to the whole Church that a simple biography never could do.
In their own way, these Evangelists took the gospel message to the ends of the earth. They weren’t traveling preachers like Paul or Barnabas, but by putting down on paper all that the Spirit was showing them, they “brought” the story and the person of Jesus to millions upon millions of people. They made it possible for the Spirit to touch generation after generation with the truths of who Jesus is and what he has done for us.
Jesus wants to commission you as well. You may not become a world-traveling missionary, but you can take the gospel into your world and become an ambassador for Christ. Simply by letting the words of the Gospels sink into your heart, you are paving the way for the Spirit to touch everyone you encounter. After all, the more he lives in you, the more he can work through you!
“Jesus, I want to know you more and more. Open the eyes of my heart so that I can hear your voice and receive your wisdom.”~WAU