Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
Sermon on The Mount Part 2
What is Jesus' Central or Main Message?
In an earlier Lenten devotional we considered the probability that the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, as well as the Apostles' different perspectives played a part in the accounts of similar events being recorded differently. As I looked at the headings for the Sermon on the Mount (Mt., 5-7), the New International Bible (NIV) and the New Century Version (NCV). I discovered similarities between them (e.g., “salt and light”), but there were also notable differences (e.g., NIV uses “Murder” vs. NCV, which uses “Jesus Teaches About Anger). The New International Version's headings include: “Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes; Salt and Light; The Fulfillment of the Law; Murder; Adultery; Divorce; Oaths; Eye for Eye; Love for Enemies; Giving to the Needy; Prayer; Fasting; Treasures in Heaven; Do Not Worry; Judging Others; Ask, Seek, Knock; The Narrow and Wide Gates; True and False Prophets; True and False Disciples; and The Wise and Foolish Builders.”
Yet, the New Century Version offers a different perspective, with many of the headings including the words “Jesus Teaches”: “Jesus Teaches the People; You Are Like Salt and Light; The Importance of the Law; Jesus Teaches About Anger; Jesus Teaches About Sexual Sin; Jesus Teaches About Divorce; Make Promises Carefully; Don’t Fight Back; Love All People; Jesus Teaches About Giving; Jesus Teaches About Prayer; Jesus Teaches About Worship; God Is More Important than Money; Don’t Worry; Be Careful About Judging Others; Ask God for What You Need; The Most Important Rule; The Way to Heaven Is Hard; People Know You by Your Actions; Two Kinds of People.” I prefer the headings that the New Century Version provides, because it's easy to make a list of Jesus' teachings, which is currently the topic we are exploring.
As we examine Jesus' teachings, the The Sermon on the Mount definitely immediately comes to mind. As you have read the headings for chapters 7-9 of Matthew, have you formed an answer to the question, “What was Jesus' message?” We know that His personal mission statement was, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” (Lk. 19:10, NIV). But was that the core of Jesus' teaching? What was His major, central message? I want to leave you with these questions, which we will pick up in tomorrow's post. I think that you will be surprised to discover the answer—I was!
Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)