When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of His followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed. Everyone tried to touch Him, because healing power went out from Him, and He healed everyone.Luke 6:17-19
- What is happening here?
- Is this section in Luke talking of the same event talked about in Matthew 5 onwards?
- Are Matthew and Luke both describing the same moment?
In Matthew we all know it as the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew he goes up and in Luke he comes down from the mountain to a large level area. It has been debated before. But what you have to realize is that both have approached this story from different directions. Matthew didn’t use the pericope of the Choosing of the Disciples in the same way. So he had to take the reader to the high place for the sermon. Luke on the other hand already had us up the mountain because that is where they went for Jesus to choose the disciples. So there was space up there for a crowd it was necessary to come down. Hence one writer says “they came down from the mountain” the other says “he went up on the mountain”. It’s not a problem, it is all a question of perspective in how they are telling the story. I for one am assured of the factuality of it rather than having a multitude up on a high mountain listening to a sermon. Try it. You won’t find a site suitable for a multitude up near the summit of the mountain. But you may well find a natural amphitheatre further down, or on the part where the high plateau starts, allowing Jesus to stand on slightly higher ground and address the crowds below. This must be the same event described because as you will see from what follows, we are talking about the same sermon content, differently arranged, but same basic material.
Who is this crowd? Luke’s text tells us they were a large group of disciples, but you can bet they were not all disciples. Matthew infers the crowd followed at the end of the ministry in Galilee. (Mt 4:25). He says the crowd came from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and beyond the Jordan (in other words Trans-Jordan). Luke says they were from Judea and Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. That is fine. All of these areas are within a few days walking distance and it is only natural that this crowd will gather momentum as the stories were told of what Jesus was doing. People from all over tagged along. Luke spells out the reasons why the crowds were following. They came to hear Him (because nobody spoke like this man with such authority). They came to be healed (because we have been told already in some villages everyone who was sick was healed). They came to be delivered of evil spirits. Everyone tried to touch Him because healing power emanated from Him. It is obvious. Why wouldn’t this attract a large crowd. They would be flocking to Him. They all wanted a piece of Jesus. This was the real deal; around Him things happened.
Up until now it had been mostly action and very little talk. But even just the little He had told them struck home and they recognized He was different from other teachers. This One had authority and backed it up with actions. The Word was spreading about Him such that not only were they coming from places He just been to, but they were coming from farther away too. This point in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke marks the spot where they wrote a different account other than what is found in Mark or in John. From this point on there is more teaching than action in both Luke and Matthew. Matthew tends to spread his unique oral material throughout his gospel whereas Luke arranges it in two continuous segments. We will start Luke’s first shorter segment of new material in Chapter 6. The second doesn’t start until Chapter 9 but is a lot longer. So in those sections there won’t be any parallel passages to compare because they are unique to Luke.
Some of you I am sure are left thinking . . . “but Ian there are lots of the questions you posed at the beginning of the section on the Calling of the Disciples that you haven’t answered.” That’s right, I told you I didn’t know how much longer I would continue with the questions and some of them I would leave for you. Some have asked about this and that, but I figured I have “broken the back” of it now and will move on. You can work the rest out for yourself. I have to leave something for you to do. Next Gem we will start Jesus’ Sermon on the Plateau.
Jesus taught profound truth in simple ways. We do the opposite. Many “deep” teachers are actually just muddy!Rick Warren
It’s frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.Anon
When all is said and done, more is said than done.Anon
Are you God’s child? Is there a family resemblance on your Father’s side?Rick Warren