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You have read it many times. You have heard sermons on it. You have been in classes that have studied through it. You have contemplated its teaching with fear and trembling. You have long determined to live by its precepts. You have realized, at times, how bad you are at Christianity. It never ceases to challenge you. We call this the greatest sermon ever preached by the greatest preacher who ever lived. Ironically, the sermon on the mount is never called a “sermon” in the New Testament. It may surprise us to know that the word “sermon” is not a Biblical term. It is, however, a Biblical concept. We have adopted the word to describe a religious discourse. The word “sermon” (Latin, Semo) means, “conversation, discourse.” The idea of a sermon is embodied in the New Testament word for “preach” (Gk., kerysso), meaning, “to preach, proclaim, tell, announce a message.” The sermon is that message. Nothing about the sermon on the mount fits what we today consider to be a “sermon,” or a preaching event. Jesus did not begin his presentation with jokes, funny stories or sports commentary. He did not have an introduction, body and conclusion. It did not have (as I was taught in school) three main points. It was not delivered with fiery passion. He did not conclude with an invitation. Here is something that is not a sermon, or preaching (as we think of them), but makes for the best preaching one can ever do! The setting for the sermon on the mount was not the type of preaching arrangement to which we are accustomed today. There was no church building or assembly hall with the speaker standing before an assembly. There were no padded pews or theatre seats. Jesus taught while seated. If a preacher were to do that today you would think it unusual. Some would object strongly. Jesus did not wear a coat and tie. He was not walking back and forth behind or in front of a pulpit. Pulpits did not exist at that time. Jesus was not holding his Bible in one hand to read select passages, or more impressively quoting from it with flawless memory. The sermon on the mount was a teaching situation similar to others in which Jesus had engaged (Matt. 13:1-2; 24:3; 26:55). Why do we call this the “Sermon on the Mount”? And why do we typically capitalize the words “sermon” and “mount”? Jesus didn’t call it a sermon. Matthew didn’t call it a sermon. Luke didn’t call it a sermon. Matthew did not begin this section by saying, “And he opened his mouth and began preaching the Sermon on the Mount.” The title originated in a commentary De Sermon Domini in Monte from Augustine of Hippo in the 4th century. “The Sermon on the Mount” is the name we have traditionally given the collection of Jesus’s sayings in Matthew 5-7. Here are some questions to ponder: 1. Why is it that the sermon on the mount is not recorded in Mark and John? 2. If Luke 6:20-49 is Luke’s version of the sermon on the mount why is it so much shorter than Matthew’s account? That is, if these are separate accounts of the same teaching situation. 3. And why does Luke say that it took place on a plain rather than on a mountain? (Lk. 6:17) 4. Why is it that Matthew records nine beatitudes [or, eight depending on your count] (vss. 3-11), whereas Luke records only four and four corresponding woes? (vss. 20-26). 5. Why are the beatitudes mentioned by Luke worded differently than the one’s in Matthew? 6. Why does Luke record the Lord’s “model prayer” (of, “Disciples’ Prayer”) in an entirely different section and context? (Lk. 11:1ff) As to the different settings – the mountain, or, hillside (Matt. 5) and the plain (Lk. 6), is it possible that Jesus started his teaching on the hillside and later moved down to a level area? Of course it is possible. How do we account for the differences in content between Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6? Being a teacher Jesus was also an itinerant preacher. That means he preached the same messages more than once. Undoubtedly the same lessons came up repeatedly. Some complain if an evangelist preaches the same sermon twice. And yet, Jesus did it. If part of a passage in Matthew’s account turns up in another context in Luke, it may just mean that Jesus preached the same thing more than once. What is the sermon on the hillside? It is a discourse in which Jesus laid out preparatory principles of the Great Commission, the New Covenant and the Kingdom of heaven. It looked ahead to the approaching Kingdom (Matt. 3:2; 4:17, 23). It unpacks the meaning of what Jesus did in Matthew 4:17. On October 11th I began a new study in my Wednesday night auditorium class. I call it “Reasons for Astonishment & Seasons of Confrontation.” This is a study of Matthew 5-10. “Reasons for Astonishment” embodies the reaction of the people who heard Jesus’s sermon on the hillside (Matt. 7:28). Matthew 8-10 will involve Jesus’s confrontation with the world. I have elected to take a study of the sermon on the hillside and expand it into what happens afterward. If you are not already involved in another class I hope you will join us for this study. There were a few Sundays in 2008 I had to preach while seated because of a broken ankle. The word “pulpit” in Nehemiah 8:4 (KJV) was, according to the Hebrew term, a wooden platform (CSB), or, podium (NASB, 2020), large enough to accommodate Ezra and his thirteen helpers. The Hebrew word is literally rendered “tower,” meaning a platform elevated enough so that the speakers could be seen by the people present. The word “pulpit” in the KJV is misleading in that it suggests a lectern. The pulpit, as we know it dates from the 12th century. In early church buildings there was a piece of furniture called an Ambo (lectern) which developed into the pulpit. In fact, large wooden pulpits are currently seen as barriers to communication, thus the popularity of acrylic lecterns.