Meditations: Sermon on the Mount (SOTM1) – Matt 5:1
I’m very pleased to be able to share with you a series of meditations by J Goldberg that truly blessed me last year! These arrived by email and were no doubt passed on between many people, but it’s great to be able to offer them to everyone here. Enjoy these as we go through Matthew Chapter 5 delving into the depths of the Sermon on the Mount.
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. Matt 5:1 (ESV)
Father presents us with this glorious teaching, the Sermon on the Mount – possibly the most famous of all the Lord’s teachings. But in it is more than just a teaching. In it we see a new era dawn, a new epoch of Father dealing with His people under a new covenant. There are so many parallels between this Sermon on the Mount and the giving of the old covenant on Mount Sinai – we can learn so much about how Father is dealing with us differently in this new covenant. Centrally, what we must hold in mind when we read the Sermon on the Mount is these 2 sets of words:
Jer 31:31-34 (ESV) – “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
700 years before Christ, Father promised a new covenant not of outward conformance, but of His Spirit dwelling within us so we will KNOW Him and love Him and desire Him and live for Him and hence obey Him from the heart.
(As a brief aside, I have been meditating on the Hebrew Roots doctrine of us being in a RENEWED covenant, not a NEW covenant, and hence still required to observe Torah, including the laws given to Moses for Israel. If anyone is interested, my rather shallow “work in progress” meditations as to why I believe the old testament scriptures wildly disagree are attached)
And in the Sermon on the Mount we see the new covenant being brought forth by Christ. In the new testament, the very centre of it is described as follows:
Col 1:27-28 (ESV) – To [you] God chose to make known how great among the nations are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ
Centrally, we are in the covenant of “Christ Almighty in me” and “me in Him”: His grace toward me and power for me being my full assurance of salvation by His blood, and also my hope of victory over sin, the devil, the world, my old self; my hope of entering into the Land of His Promises; my hope of walking in faith and living by faith; my hope of being who He has called me to be. It is Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me… That is my hope, and what a great hope, a hope more mighty than any hope that He Who is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation… Creator of all things, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities… before all things… Upholding all things… The beginning, the firstborn from the dead… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him He is reconciling to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” – He is in me, and He is my hope of glory.
Apart from “Christ in me”, I am not in this new covenant but in the old one of outward conformance, without the power to conform. I will merely have the appearance of godliness but deny its power.
With that in mind, back to the Sermon on the Mount. In these things, we can see the establishment of the new era long awaited by all His friends of old – Job, Abraham, Moses, et al.
v1 Seeing the crowds –
As Moses led the multitudes of Israel into the Old Covenant, Jesus also led the multitudes into the new covenant in Himself. But mark this difference. Moses came up the mountain, heard from God, came down again and shared the words of God with God’s people. But in the new covenant in Christ, God Himself sits on the mountain, inviting us to come up to Him, by His grace and wisdom drawing the people to Himself and they come not to a human mediator, but to God. This is the new covenant. No more human intermediaries. We come directly to God Almighty.
he went up on the mountain –
As Moses went up the mountain to receive the commands of Yahweh which would form the covenant between Himself and Israel – 613 commandments in all, 10 on tablets – and brought them down after 40 days to the people, so Jesus went up the Mountain to describe the terms of the New Covenant in Himself. But mark this difference. No longer is it mount Sinai, a high and lofty place to terrifying for men to come up with him to meet in the Presence of God. Rather, a small hill, a little knob on the face of the earth without great fires and booming thunder; not terrifying the people but inviting them right into the intimate Presence of God Himself.
and when he sat down –
As Moses sat in the seat of judgement – the sign of His being the administrator of Father’s justice and equity in the nation of Israel – so Jesus sat down to demonstrate His being the judge of the New Covenant, the administrator of Father’s equity in the earth, through His discerning Presence in the hearts of His people. Sitting in the midst of the congregation, as the scribes and pharisees did when they “sat in the seat of Moses” to teach, was the mark of authority to reveal the oracles of God. Only mark this difference. Moses sat in a seat of judgement amongst the people, administrating Father’s justice and equity, ensuring all receive their rightful portion in His gracious provision and that wickedness is punished. Christ sits in the seat of judgement IN His people, in our hearts, administering His justice by dwelling within by His empowering Presence so we can live by faith and by faith lay hold of His grace and promises. Also, hence the church will judge angels and the nations: because “Christ – the Great Judge of the new and eternal covenant – in me” is that hope of that glorious state in which we will be trustworthy with such a privileged role. It will be said by us “nevertheless not I, but Christ in me”.
his disciples came to him –
As moses was commanded to command all Israel to join him at the mountain so they could receive His instructions to them, and that is how the Old Covenant worked (the Almighty commanded His servant, a man, Moses, who commanded the people, who obeyed), so also Christ went up on the mountain not for Himself but for the people. But mark this difference. No longer do we come by instruction, in fear and trembling, but moved in our heart by His grace and kindness. “his disciples came to him” More importantly, no longer do we come to a man to receive statutes of outward conformance, but to Christ Himself, the God-man, to receive Him. Because it is “Christ in me” that is my hope of glory; and so we come “to Him.”
Hallelujah. Thank You Jesus that we come to You, we receive You, we know You, we live for You. Thank you that YOU ARE the One all History pointed to, and all eternity is through. Strengthen us with might by Your Spirit in our inner man, so You will dwell in our heart through faith, so we will be rooted and grounded in love, and so have power to comprehend and to know your boundless love and be filled to overflowing with Your Presence. Amen.
Original date of work: 4 Jan 2011
By: J Goldberg