Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Ministry of Jesus, Sermon on the Mount
Sermon on the Plain, Twelve Apostles, and Transfiguration of JesusSermon on the Mount, Carl Heinrich Bloch, 19th c.The Gospels state that Jesus, as Messiah, was sent to "give his life as a ransom for many" and "preach the good news of the Kingdom of God." Over the course of his ministry, Jesus is said to have performed various miracles, including healings, exorcisms, walking on water, turning water into wine, and raising several people, such as Lazarus, from the dead (John 11:1–44).Judæa and Galilee at the time of JesusThe Gospel of John describes three different passover feasts over the course of Jesus' ministry.
This implies that Jesus preached for a period of three years, although some interpretations of the Synoptic Gospels suggest a span of only one year. The focus of his ministry was toward his closest adherents, the Twelve Apostles, though many of his followers were considered disciples. Jesus led what many believe to have been an apocalyptic following. He preached that the end of the current world would come unexpectedly; as such, he called on his followers to be ever alert and faithful. Jesus also taught the necessity of repentance and the danger of damnation (Luke 13:1-5, Luke 12:1-5).At the height of his ministry, Jesus attracted huge crowds numbering in the thousands, primarily in the areas of Galilee and Perea (in modern-day Israel and Jordan respectively). Some of Jesus' most famous teachings come from the Sermon on the Mount, which contained the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer. Jesus often employed parables, such as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and the Parable of the Sower. His teachings centered around unconditional self-sacrificing God-like love for God and for all people.
During his sermons, he preached about service and humility, the forgiveness of sin, faith, turning the other cheek, love for one's enemies as well as friends, and the need to follow the spirit of the law in addition to the letter.Jesus often met with society's outcasts, such as the publican (Imperial tax collectors who were despised for extorting money), including the apostle Matthew; when the Pharisees objected to Jesus' meeting with sinners rather than the righteous, Jesus replied that it was the sick who need a physician, not the healthy (Matthew 9:9–13). According to Luke and John, Jesus also made efforts to extend his ministry to the Samaritans, who followed a different form of the Israelite religion.
This is reflected in his preaching to the Samaritans of Sychar, resulting in their conversion (John 4:1–42).According to the synoptic gospels, Jesus led three of his apostles - Peter, John, and James - to the top of a mountain to pray. While there, he was transfigured before them, his face shining like the sun and his clothes brilliant white; Elijah and Moses appeared adjacent to him. A bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the sky said, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased." The gospels also state that toward the end of his ministry, Jesus began to warn his disciples of his future death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21-28).