The Multitude and the Disciples

Matthew 5: 1 - And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

In this series looking at the sermon on the mount, we will take each verse in Matthew 5 - 7 and sit with it. We start in Matthew 5: 1 where there is a crowd of people gathered. From Matthew 4: 24 - 25, we can assume that this crowd is here for Jesus. People know that He can heal, deliver and set free. They have come to be blessed, to hear Him speak and some simply want to get a glimpse of the man behind all the stories of miracles they had heard. Matthew 5: 1 specifically talks about two types of people in the crowd: the multitudes and the disciples. 

How do we distinguish between the multitude and the disciples?

According to this verse, the difference is that the disciples came unto Jesus after he went up into a mountain. Apart from that, two things instantly jump out at me about this verse. Firstly, the wording suggests that Jesus went up into the mountain because He saw the multitude. Secondly, notice that even though both the multitude and the disciples came to see Jesus, only the disciples were willing to follow Him up the mountain to hear what He had to say.

According to the Orthodox Jewish Bible, the Hebrew word for "disciple" in this verse is “talmidim”. This word speaks of a student that leaves everything, family, job, etc and follows with the goal of learning from their teacher so that they can become their teacher. 

Why does this distinction matter?

It seems to be a small thing, but there is a reason why the effort is made to distinguish between the multitude and the disciples. As we read further into the sermon on the mount, we begin to realise that on top of this mountain Jesus gave a sermon that changed the way religion was viewed. Even in current times, this sermon challenges traditions that have built up in modern Christianity. It calls us to a new standard. In this sermon, we begin to learn about how this mysterious man named Jesus views the world, and by living out the instructions in this sermon we can also become like Him.

But what if you never hear the sermon? The multitude were instantly out of the race because they weren’t willing to put the work in. They weren't willing to climb the mountain and to learn from Christ. This then begs the very important question of are you part of the multitude or are you a disciple? Are you willing to climb the mountain to meet with Christ?

Of course, we don’t physically have to climb a mountain to be in the presence of God and to hear what He has to say, but during busy days, do you make time to speak with God in prayer and learn from Him in His word? Or when your heart is broken and things are difficult, do you still lift up your voice in worship and thanksgiving? Do you seek His opinion on matters of your life, even if His word might disagree with what your flesh wants to do? Are you as prayerful and dedicated to God when things are hunky dory, compared to when you need a blessing or a miracle from Him?

Let’s be completely honest with ourselves and with God as we answer these questions. Our answer to this question is vital because if you aren’t willing to go up the mountain, how will You hear what He has to say? And if you can’t hear what He has to say, how will you learn from Him and about Him? And if you don’t speak to Him or know who He is, how can you claim to be His friend and to be saved by Him? And if you aren’t saved by Him, then what is the purpose of your Christianity?

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