Matthew had 3 chapters devoted to Jesus and his preaching on the mount or hill. This Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus that emphasize his moral teaching, the first of his 5 discourses. early in the ministry of Jesus. Luke had something similar in his sermon on the plain. This sermon is the longest continuous section of Jesus speaking in the New Testament, containing the central tenets of Christian discipleship. Thus, it had become the most widely quoted and best known of the teachings of Jesus, with the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer. These Jesus sayings echo the highest ideals of Jesus’ teachings on spirituality and compassion with acts of mercy, providing both temporal and spiritual benefits. Jesus also used many metaphors in his sermon. He reinterpreted the Ten Commandments, particularly about lying, killing and adultery. The teachings of this sermon have been a key element of Christian ethics with its demanding high moral standards. Christians were to be perfect with a Christian righteousness. There have been many different interpretations of this demanding ethical life. Was this only for clergy and monks? Is it only an impossible ideal? Should we take this literally? Is this only an interim ethic or a future ethic? Is this the basis of the social gospel and Christian existentialism? What value do these ideals have for our lives today?
The Redemption Context
African Christians put emphasis on creation and deliverance from hardship, while European Christians put emphasis on sin and salvation. These differences show up in death rituals and funerals. The early Church suffered political persecution. Freedom from slavery saw redemption as the main form of freedom. The early Medieval Church (4th-11th centuries) was more concerned about freedom from the power of the devil after Augustine had emphasized the concept of original sin. The early Scholastic theologians like Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) put less emphasis on the ransom from the devil. Adam had disobeyed and dishonored God. Christ has saved us by being the second Adam, the so-called satisfaction theory. Order and honor were more important. The Third world today sees redemption as something else. Christian redemption is the same reality, but there are different interpretations of what it means to be redeemed.