The Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew 5-7, and it is the best-known and most extensively studied discourse in the world. It has been the subject of thousands of books and articles.
These are weekly articles that Pastor Steve writes for the White Mountain Independent newspaper.
In many texts, Jesus explains in greater detail and with other images what it means to be his disciple, but the command to follow him, which occurs in the middle of Matthew’s account (4.19) of Jesus’ calling these first four disciples, is most basic.
Matthew (4.1-11) records that Satan used three temptations: the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to test God by jumping from the temple, and the temptation to escape the cross by falling down and worshiping Satan. Each of these temptations is related to what Jesus had heard from heaven at his baptism, namely, that he was God’s “Son” with whom God the Father was “well pleased.”
Who is Jesus Christ?
We should have a fairly complete answer to that question by now, because we have been given several clear answers to it in the first three chapters of Matthew.
In addition to John the Baptist’s message of repentance, the second most important thing about the work given to him was his practice of baptizing people as a sign that they had done what he demanded. They had repented of their sins and were looking forward to the coming Messiah.
John the Baptist’s message contained three parts, according to Matthew (3.1-17): (1) a warning, (2) a promise, and (3) a demand.
The most unusual feature of John’s preaching was his announcement that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. This phrase, the “kingdom of heaven,” is used thirty-two times in Matthew’s Gospel, and this is its first occurrence. It has its roots in the Old Testament prophecies of a coming messianic king and points to a place or time in which God will specifically reign or rule.
Some thirty years passed between chapters 2 and 3 of Matthew, during which Jesus lived in Nazareth and worked as a carpenter. But the time came for Him to begin His public ministry which would culminate at the cross. For over 400 years, the nation had not heard the voice of a prophet. Then John appeared and a great revival took place.
How should we handle this verse? First, we should note that Matthew introduces the verse by referring to prophets (plural, “through the prophets”), rather than saying, as he does in other instances, “This took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet” (Matt. 1:22) or “For this is what the prophet has written” (Matt. 2:5).
The second of the three incidents in Matthew’s Gospel is the account of the slaughter of Bethlehem’s young children, those “two years old and under” (v.16). It is a brief account, for apart from the note that Herod determined the age span for the slaughter “in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi,” Matthew does not elaborate on the details. The wise men must have told Herod that the star had appeared more than a year before their arrival in Jerusalem, which would have been about right. They would have needed time to make preparations for their journey and cross the desert.