2019 Study Summary 8: “Blessed Are Ye”
Matthew 5; Luke 6
Focusing Attention on Him:
Most discussions of the Sermon on the Mount concentrate on our “attitudes.” There may be an underlying and supporting doctrine teaching a higher law. Could it be that the Savior is saying, “No matter who you are, rich or poor, mournful or happy, popular or persecuted, come unto me and I will give you the Holy Ghost?”
Mount of Beatitudes – A Peaceful Place:
On the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, on a higher elevation overlooking the sea, a higher law was given on the Mount of Beatitudes. Considering the proximity of Capernaum, Chorazim, and Bethsaida, where Jesus taught and lived, the breathtaking view and the feelings travelers have reported throughout the centuries, this is likely the place where Jesus shared an explanation of His mission with the twelve Apostles.
Leading the Sheep Today:
Nearby, a boy shepherd lead sheep out every morning and returns in the late afternoon. Usually there are about a dozen older lead sheep often marked with bells around their necks. It is common to hear the boy talk to his sheep. He calls them when it’s time to move on, and that’s when the lead sheep immediately respond, ringing their bells as they run toward their shepherd. The ringing alerts the other sheep, and, like a wave, they follow the others.
Ancient Temple Practice:
The shepherd’s model is similar to an ancient biblical temple practice. For example, in the inner courtyard of the temple, the chief priest would light a fire and burn incense to signal his readiness for a sacrifice. That would alert the twelve priests in the next courtyard to wash and ready themselves. Their signal to the congregation was the ringing of bells. The multitudes would then follow the priests to participate in the ritual.
Sermon on the Mount – A Shepherd’s Model:
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, gives the Sermon on the Mount, apparently to the twelve disciples. In turn, their mission was to teach the multitudes. (Matthew 5:1)
Viewed as a Christian Guideline:
The Beatitudes are often interpreted as Christian guidelines. “Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . mournful . . . meek . . . hunger and thirst after righteousness . . . merciful . . . pure in heart . . . peacemakers . . . persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” (Matthew 5:3-11)
Another Sermon on a Mount:
However, there may be more to His intention, for another rendition of this same sermon is recorded as, “Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me.” (3 Nephi 12:3) In that sense, the Sermon on the Mount is inviting all people, whether rich or poor in spirit, happy or mourning, popular or persecuted, to come unto Him. He promised, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) Again, more insight can be gained through another rendition of that verse which states that those hungering and thirsting after righteousness would be filled . . . “. . . with the Holy Ghost.” (3 Nephi 12:6)
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Law of Moses Fulfilled:
Jesus indicated that the Law of Moses was fulfilled in Him. He was restoring a higher law, one that was governed and dictated more by the spirit and intent than by the letter of the law (which was given at Mount Sinai). The old and new laws are again like a chiasmus, with the Savior’s ministry and subsequent atonement as the center, the turning point, linking the lesser and higher laws. The following poem illustrates the two principles.
Sermons on the Mounts (Daniel Rona)
The law was given, the standard set. But, best was not accepted yet.
We compromised with Heaven’s voice, Just ten commandments was our choice.
Tooth for tooth and eye for eye, retribution was the cry.
- No other God –
- Or image graven –
- Not in vain, the name of Heaven –
- Remember Sabbath,
- Father, Mother –
- Thou shalt not kill –
- Nor defile another –
- Do not steal –
- Or false word belabor –
- Do not covet the wealth of neighbor –
With sins forgiven and God revealed, a higher law on us was sealed.
- Bless your neighbor –
- Share a kindly word –
- Give to others –
- And clean thoughts preferred –
- No need for anger to hide your smile –
- Parents, children, walk the second mile –
- Use the Sabbath, blessings to bestow –
- The name of God in your good deeds show –
- Your life will God’s true image mirror,
- As you and He become much nearer.
In Heaven’s highest throne to stay, Use thought and reason to guide the way.
The highest law is now defined—in thought, in spirit and in the mind.
Chiasmus of the Law:
As stated before, the two sets of law form a chiasmus around the ministry and atonement of Jesus–the lesser law that would lead to Him and the higher law to live like Him. Fifty days after Jesus’ crucifixion at Passover, the Holy Ghost came upon the congregation in Jerusalem. The Jewish holiday commemorating the giving of the lesser law at Mount Sinai is also celebrated fifty days after Passover. Apparently, the same day was also used in giving the gift of the Holy Ghost, the higher law. The day is called Pentecost. (ACTS 2:1-4)
Jesus Establishes a Biblical Leadership Order:
Consider the leadership of the children of Israel, a council of three, with Moses, Aaron & Hur, a Council of Twelve Elders and a Council of Seventy. It is comparable to the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The latter-day Israelites led now by the tribe of Ephraim (Joseph) are also organized with a First Presidency of three, a Quorum of Twelve and a Council of Seventy.