Matthew 5: 2 - And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying,
In the last post, we focused on the audience to the sermon on the mount. Today in the second verse in Matthew 5, we shift our focus to the Speaker. This is a relatively short verse. And the fact that it seems to only be the first part of the sentence as opposed to the full sentence means that it’s very easy to skip over this verse and to rush straight through to verse 3 so that we can hear what Jesus taught. However, we must note that God does not waste words. God’s words are precious, they were powerful enough to create the heavens and the earth. His words are expected to accomplish His purpose (Isaiah 55: 11) so let us pause and look over this short half-sentence.
Jesus decided to speak
Firstly, let us note that it says He opened his mouth. This suggests that He was making a conscious decision to speak and had therefore made a conscious decision not to speak before he went up the mountain. Let us remember that in the verse before this it says that Jesus saw the multitudes and he reacted to the multitudes by going up to the mountain. Why would Jesus go up the mountain? Why wouldn’t He simply speak at the base of the mountain where both the disciples and the multitude could hear? Why would Jesus choose to get away from the multitude?
Maybe it’s because His message was for the disciples and only the disciples. Maybe He wanted to distinguish between the disciples and the multitude. Maybe He even wanted the disciples to be able to recognise themselves as disciples and the multitude to be able to recognise themselves as not true followers of God. The truth is I don’t know. It could be all of the above or none of the above. What I do know is that the word and revelation access that the disciples have is different to what the multitude has. Jesus only decided to speak when He was alone with His disciples.
Jesus spoke to teach
Secondly, let us note that He taught them. When people speak it has different purposes. Sometimes it’s to simply share information, to entertain or it might even have no purpose whatsoever. If we focus on Christian concepts, sometimes people speak to exhort, to encourage, to prophesy, to pray and this list goes on. And we see Jesus speak in all these ways through the New Testament, but here, when it came to His disciples, Jesus spoke for the purpose of teaching.
The Oxford dictionary says teaching is to:
- “Impart knowledge to or instruct (someone) as to how to do something.”
- Give information about or instruction in (a subject or skill)
- Cause (someone) to learn or understand something by example or experience.
- Encourage someone to accept (something) as a fact or principle.
In all the definitions, we can see that within teaching there is a common thread that the purpose of Jesus opening His mouth was so that the disciples who made it up the mountain could learn and understand something they didn't already know. This is worth noting before we delve into exactly what Jesus had to say in this sermon so that we can understand how He expects us to receive this information. The sermon on the mount is not 3 chapters of interesting ideas for us to consider nor is it reading material for us to browse through. As we read through the next 3 chapters, we sit at the feet of Jesus to learn and understand something we don’t already know. This information will be new to us, but as disciples, we are to accept his words as fact. He is about to instruct us, and He expects us to obey. Remember our definition of a disciple in verse 1, a disciple learns from their teacher with the goal of becoming their teacher.
Are you ready to listen and learn?
Lastly, let us note that the word “saying”. This is a reminder that Jesus teaches by speaking. The bible says God is the same today, tomorrow and forever (Hebrews 13: 8), so Jesus is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?