Matthew: The Holy Mountain
Matthew: The Holy Mountain
Mountains have immense imaginative power in Judaism - explore this theme in the Gospel of Matthew.
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100 Stand Alone Bible Studies

Bible Passages

Matthew 4:8

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the
kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ”All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Matthew 5:1–2

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

Matthew 14:23

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

Matthew 15:29–30

Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a
mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.

Matthew 24:3

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Matthew 28:16–17

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.


Mountains have immense imaginative power in Judaism (see for example Exodus 19). The Law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12–18; Exodus 31:18), and God would call Moses to meet with him face to face on the mountain. Afterwards, his face shone so bright it had to be veiled.

The last blessing of Moses upon the tribes of his people speaks of the God
who meets with them on the mountain (Deuteronomy 33:1–3). And after he has blessed them one last time the Lord calls him up the mountain, and from the mountain top shows him the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1–4).

Both Jesus’ prophetic ministry as the new Moses bringing the new Law, and his deity, are indicated by the numerous mentions of mountains in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus goes up to pray to God on the mountain; he teaches his disciples and the people on the mountain. The Sermon on the Mount is in Matthew’s Gospel alone; Luke’s equivalent takes place down on the plain. The mountains in Matthew’s Gospel are telling us who Jesus is.

Notice the difference in order of the temptations in the desert between
Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels (Matthew 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–12). Do you notice that for Luke the climactic temptation is located on the Temple, whereas for Matthew it’s on the mountain?

When Jesus comes down from the mount of transfiguration, he finds the
disciples having trouble with a demon (Matthew 17:1–20). Contrast his comment about the mountain in verse 20 with Mark’s version of the same story (Mark 9:2– 29; see verses 28–29).



O mountain-moving God, you tower over the highest heights and can overcome our greatest difficulties. Before you, the psalmist says, the mountains – solid as they are – “skip like rams”. How great is your power, but deeper and stronger and more wonderful still is your love. O God our rock, our strength, and our redeemer, surely we take refuge in you! In the name of Jesus; Amen.