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The Sermon on the Mount
by Bishop Alexander (Mileant); Translated by Seraphim Larin/ Nicolas and Natalie Semyanko

The significance of the sermon on the mount

The Savior’s Sermon on the Mount is remarkable in that it appears a distillation of the Gospel in its entirety, condensing all that is important and essential for every Christian to know and to do. The Evangelist St. Matthew recorded what appears to be the entirety of the sermon, in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of his Gospel, and the Evangelist Luke gives several parts of the sermon in the 6th chapter of his Gospel. The Lord preached the Sermon on the Mount in his first year of public service, on a small mountain located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, near the town of Capernaum.

The Lord begins the Sermon on the Mount with the nine beatitudes, which set forth the New Testament law of spiritual rebirth. He then speaks of the beneficial influence Christians have on the society they live in, and of the fact that His teachings do not negate the Old Testament laws, but rather supplements them. The Lord teaches us to overcome malice, to be chaste, to remain faithful to one’s word, to forgive all, to love even our enemies and to strive for perfection here.

In the next part of His sermon, the Savior teaches that it is necessary to strive for true righteousness, which is found in the heart of a person, in contrast to the ostentatious Judaic righteousness prevalent in those times. By examples, the Lord explains how one must show mercy, pray and fast in order to please God. Further, He urges people not to hoard wealth but to hope in God.

In the last part of His sermon, the Lord teaches us not to judge others, to safeguard what is holy from desecration, and to be consistent in good works. Concluding his sermon, the Lord shows the difference between the "wide" and "narrow paths," warns against false prophets, and explains how to fortify ourselves for overcoming the inevitable trials of life.

The Lord Jesus Christ characterized the teaching which He brought to all mankind from His Heavenly Father in this way: "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away" (Mark 13:31). Truly, the eternal, heavenly truth — which does not deteriorate with time, and which applies equally to people of all races and cultures — is given in the Sermon on the Mount. The conditions of life and people’s understandings of morality change, but the Laws of God are immutable. For this reason, Christians, striving for eternal life, should first of all master the eternal laws of goodness laid out in the Sermon on the Mount, and construct their life on them. We will now discuss these eternal laws.

Published with the kind permission of Bishop Alexander Mileant

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