Our Bible passage shows the beginning and end of the Sermon on the Mount. Reading through this whole passage of teaching (Matthew 5:1 – 7:29) quietly at home in preparation for the group may be helpful in thinking about Jesus’ teaching ministry.
In Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus is seen as a teacher of righteousness, the five blocks of teaching (see the study on p. 76 on Matthew’s Gospel, “The faithful Israel and the new Moses”) remind us of the books of the Law that taught the people of God how to live. The Sermon on the Mount forms part of these blocks of teaching, instructing us on the lifestyle of a Christian.
But Jesus also taught in parables; indeed, Matthew says elsewhere (13:34) that he always and only taught the crowds in parables. His parables (Matthew 13 gives a good selection) are often described as “parables of the kingdom”, and they expound the nature of God and the kingdom of heaven. The parables help us to grasp imaginatively what Jesus elsewhere teaches in his discourses (for example Matthew 23:12 and Luke 18:9–14).
The teachings of Jesus emphasize faith that is genuine and stands firm, prayer that never gives up, forgiveness and mercy, God’s constancy and love, the trustworthy generosity of God in providing for us, love as the hallmark of the disciple, willingness to embrace the sacrificial way, and the importance of simplicity.
What do you find most encouraging and uplifting in what you know of the teaching of Jesus?
Is there anything in Jesus’ teaching that you find hard to understand or too hard to put into practice?
When he taught, Jesus told stories (and sometimes just left his hearers to figure out what he was getting at), sometimes preached, and sometimes discussed or asked searching questions. He also sent his disciples out on missions, or involved them in miracles, where they learned by doing. What is your preferred way of learning?
O God of wisdom, you know how dim our understanding can be, how slow we are to grasp what you are showing us. Thank you for your patience with us. As we walk the disciple’s way, help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, for we learn best of all by watching him. In his holy name we pray; Amen.