Yesterday’s gospel portion was Matthew 5:1-12 one that most of us are familiar with because it contains the Beatitudes, the very heart of Jesus message to his disciples and what many regard as the commandments of the kingdom of God. The passage begins with a phrase I had never noticed before When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain… Sounds like Moses our rector commented.
Moses I thought yes Moses also climbed a mountain to receive the ten commandments, the laws of the old covenant but here the similarity of his climb seems to end. Moses climbed alone. The people stayed behind. Moses disappeared into a cloud that hid God’s presence and separated God’s glory from the rest of the Israelites. He received the laws alone, written on a tablet of stone – rules and regulations that unfortunately the Israelites had never seen modelled and I suspect really did not understand. I wonder if Moses understood them either. No wonder they all, Moses included, needed forty years in the desert. It was there that they learned generosity, compassion and caring. It was their that they learned to trust God in an intimate, personal way no other people had ever known.
Jesus climbed the mountain together with his disciples and the crowds that followed craving something new out of life. They already knew he was different and wanted to know why and what he had to offer. On this mountain Jesus taught them the laws of the kingdom of God that were written not on a stone tablet but on his heart and in his life. Yearn for justice, work for peace, show forth compassion. These were the very things that his followers had seen Jesus live out. They were woven into the very fabric of his being. These were the things that had made them crave something new and made many of them willing to leave their livelihoods and their job security to follow him. They were not only written on Jesus heart but became imprinted on the hearts and lives of his followers too – a new and living covenant that turned the world upside down in a way that the laws Moses brought down from his mountain never could.
How I wondered do we climb our faith mountains today? Do we climb together with Jesus and with others who crave the same life transforming knowledge we do? or do we climb as Moses did – alone into a cloud that hides God from those we walk together with? I am not sure if this analogy is what the Biblical scholars intended but it certainly has me thinking as I begin this week and I would love to hear your thoughts too.