The Sermons on Two Mounts is on the other end of Jesus’ ministry from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Jesus is preparing to be sacrificed for our sins. These Sermons occur in the four-day period before Passover that starts on the 10th of the month and is referenced in Exodus 12. These teachings took place on what we call Tuesday of Holy Week. He has had His tour deforce entrance (Palm Sunday) into Jerusalem and cleaned the yeast (money changers) out of the Temple on Monday. Oh, the two mounts are the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. Who Jesus taught that day is important and I will start with an introduction of them.
The three Gospels are fairly unified in identifying these groups. My focus will be Matthew as he is the most complete on the activities of the day.
The Leaders-The first groups to meet Jesus are the chief priests and elders of the people.
- Chief Priests-This term is used very little in the Old Testament (both KJV and NIV). I will say it was after David’s reign that someone became a chief priest. It is used by Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 19:11 and by Jeremiah (the chief priest was his uncle). They do have list of these men and when they served. Herod in Matthew 2 ask them questions about the birthplace of the Messiah. Matthew 21:15 has them upset at Jesus because of the children on Palm Sunday. Since Jesus had messed up their business of the money changers, I am sure they were on guard when He showed up again on Tuesday. Remember Zachariah (John’s father) was offering incense in Luke 1 and he was not a chief priest. So, there was a single-family group that used this title and wielded a lot of authority in Jerusalem. They belonged to the sect of the Sadducees.
- Elders of the People-Acts 5:21 identifies the Sanhedrin as the elders of the people. It seems that this group would have had Sadducees and Pharisees in it. They are the civil government under the Herods and the Romans, with the chief priest being the leader of this group.
- Teachers of the Law-This group probably had both Sadducees and Pharisees with this title. I imagine that most of these men were also elders.
- Herodians-They were Jews who were loyal to Herod. Most Jews did not like Herod because he was part Jew by birth, and Roman by choice, and just crazy. Luke uses the term spies for these people. If the Pharisees joined with this group they really wanted Jesus dead.
- Pharisees-This sect is the orthodox group of the day. From my reading about them, their thoughts and way of life is the foundation for modern Jewish thought. In reading Acts, some became followers of the Way. Where they the ones that objected to the Gentiles and tried to add circumcision as a requirement to be a believer? I do think they loved God, but the Law was more important to them.
- Sadducees-They did not believe in the supernatural or the resurrection of the dead (Matt. 22:23). The chief priest belonged to this sect. Paul used their doctrine in Acts 23:6 to divide the Sanhedrin.
At some point, the leaders fade from the story of Temple Mount teachings. There are several references that they had nothing more to say or Jesus saw through their game and did not play along. Matthew 26 has them meeting together to arrest and kill Jesus. It would be hard to imagine that they did not have spies in the crowd for the rest of the day.
The Crowd-The Gospels list very interesting things about the crowds. Some of this group may have been with Jesus at the Jordan River and followed Him to Jerusalem. So, these people were part of the parade that ushered Jesus into town, or at least they asked who this man was. Jesus was on everyone’s radar after clearing the coin changers out of the Temple, they wanted to see what He would do next.
- Matthew-1. They held John to be a prophet and the leaders were afraid of them. 2. They were astonished at Jesus’ teaching. 3. Received the teaching/woes about the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.
- Mark-1. Amazed at Jesus’ teachings. 2. Listened with delight. 3. Caused fear in the leaders. 4. Put money into the Temple treasury.
- Luke (NIV) and the KJV use the word people instead of crowd. Results are the same, the people loved Him and the leaders hated.
- Okay, did Jerusalem have piles of stones in the streets or did everyone carry a rock, just in case?
The Disciples-We tend to think that there were only twelve disciples. There were twelve Apostles, but there were the women, Justus, Matthias (Acts 1:23), the seventy that Jesus sent out, and the 120 in the upper room. I think the parade into Jerusalem started with just His disciples and other people joined them. Thinking back to Pentecost maybe there were 3,000 disciples.
How many were with Jesus when He left the Temple on Tuesday of Holy Week? I am not sure, but I bet it was more than twelve. They actually asked the question that finished the teaching that started with the fig tree earlier that day. The Second Temple that had Herod’s upgrades would be destroyed and Jerusalem with it.
On the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked for the sermon on that mount (Matthew 24: 3). It consisted of several stories and warnings and the prediction of His death (26:2).
Sorta off topic-Because of so many lessons that had a wedding as the base of the teaching, I would like to add an idea to the ride into the city. It is viewed as a king coming into town, and that fits with Psalm 45. In Kingdom Wedding, I studied about the erusin, which is when the groom declares His intentions to marry His wife. They legally were married at that time, even though she did not live with the groom yet. The actual wedding feast would be picked by the groom’s father. During this period of time, the groom would give gifts to the bride. I believe Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem was when He came to declare His intentions for His bride.
More studies from the Sermons on the Mounts are in the works, I just wanted to look at the three audiences that heard them.