From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 4:17 NIV
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. Matthew 4:23-5:2 NIV
Why did Jesus sit on a mountainside to teach his disciples and the crowds? Mountains or hills were often places where God chose to reveal himself to the people of Israel. From Exodus 19:20 we learn that:
The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up.
God met and talked with Moses on Mt. Sinai, several times. Elijah asked for and God revealed His power on the top of Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18:16-46). Abraham was told to sacrifice his one and only son on Mt. Moriah, which later became the site chosen for Solomon’s temple (Genesis 22, II Chronicles 3:1-2).
…Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Matthew 17:1-2 NIV
Mountains will also be important in the last days as Micah told us.
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Micah 4:1-2 NIV
There is another interesting narrative in Joshua 8:30-35 that relates to the people of Israel and Joshua, declaring the blessings and curses that God will give to His people. Deuteronomy 27–28 describes what these exact blessings and curses are.
Why was Jesus seated to teach his disciples? Because this was the custom of the time for teaching.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-21 NIV (Emphasis added.)
Jesus seated on a mountain proclaiming God’s Kingdom is a powerful image that surely invoked memories of previous revelations of God, His power and of the Lord’s previous blessings. This week look at one or more of these other mountain top experiences and pray the Lord’s prayer remembering the many ways God has previously spoken to people and revealed Himself from the mountain top.
“`Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:9-14 NIV