biblestudy: Matthew (Part Four)
Matthew 4:23 - 5:4
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 02-Sep-81; 79 minutes
There was but one temple in Jerusalem, a monument to God, having very little preaching, but many synagogues in each town. Jesus taught in synagogues in services which contained formalized prayers and readings from the scripture. Following the readings, a sermon was given either by the ruler of the synagogue or someone he deemed worthy, even though the person may not have had formalized ecclesiastical training. Except for the ruler of the synagogue, there didn't seem to be a formal minister. Preaching was intended to be general, providing overview, while the teaching was intended to be specific, providing details. Matthew provides systematic order and structure to his Gospel. Matthew's encapsulation of the Beatitudes, the essence (perhaps the distillation or compendium of many sermons) of Jesus Christ's teaching, contains the foundation of His teaching through the entirety of His ministry. It would be entirely possible to make a sermon from each one of the verses from Matthew 5-7. The various themes are presented in different contexts in Luke's account, indicating a perennial theme. Luke set things down in chronological order; Matthew set things down in topical or thematic order. The seriousness of the teaching can be illustrated by Jesus sitting down to teach. The beatitudes, attitudes directed away from self, are intended to provide an antidote for depression and sorrow now and in the future, bringing a state of happiness and bliss, totally unattached from physical things or circumstances, but bubbles up from within deriving from divine favor. Poor in spirit connotes more absolute trust in and submission to God rather than abject poverty or financially impoverished. Mourning or sadness is good to make us see cause and effect and make the heart better.
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