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Friday, June 16, 2017

Matthew's Mountain--A Place of Authoritative Teaching And Sending

The Mount of Beatitudes near Capernaum
Is the location where Jesus gave his disciples their first instructions and where he gave them their final instructions the same?

I think it might well be.

No one knows exactly where in Galilee Jesus delivered the teachings recorded in Matthew 5-7, but the prominent Sinai-like peak that has become known as the Mount of Beatitudes near Capernaum could well be the place.

There, in the manner of rabbis instructing their apprentices, Jesus first "sat down and taught" what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. A large crowd listened in, all marveling at the authority (exousia) with which he spoke.

At the end of Matthew's gospel Jesus instructed his disciples to again meet with him at a specified mountain in Galilee to charge them with what we know as the "Great Commission".

"I have been given all authority (exousia)," Jesus says, "therefore wherever you go, make disciples of all peoples, initiating them into God's worldwide rule and instructing them to obey all I have commanded you."

In recent centuries, there has been much emphasis on Jesus' mandate to "go into all the world" to evangelize and to baptize, but there have been few examples of missionaries actually teaching people such commands as "do not return evil for evil" and "do not lay up treasures here on earth", as found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Early Christians were convinced that Jesus first and his final instructions were seamlessly linked. Thus the church in the first centuries was known for teaching their members (with authority) to shun all forms of violence and to sacrificially share their possession with those in need.

We need to follow their example.
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