So His fame spread throughout Syria…and the great crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. When Jesus looks out on these great crowds, he climbs, at the beginning of chapter 5, up on the mountain.
It’s often depicted that the sermon that Jesus gave on that mount was to the crowd, but the first verse only says, and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him. It’s possible that Jesus was leading the crowd up this mountain to preach to them; the language indicates the possibility that Jesus ascended to get away from the crowds. Maybe there’s a reason Matthew leaves this ambiguous for right now.
The preaching is packed with conviction and encouragement: the hearers both reminded of their duty to the LORD and impelled to not settle for mere obedience. “You’ve heard it said…” Jesus begins – connecting to their knowledge of the law – and then presses beyond:“…but I tell you…” Later, Jesus’ hearers are reminded of the smallness of their faith both in the power and in the attention of their Heavenly Father.
Connecting it all is the integrating concept in the middle of chapter 5: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” This question of Jesus’ relationship to the Jewish past and faith will prove central to Matthew’s story: Is Jesus an aberration, is He an abomination, or is He truly Immanuel – God with us – the grand climax to which Abraham’s story always aspired?
Our verse for this week is Isaiah 40:31: “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Matthew chapters 5 and 6. Now let’s read it!
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.