I absolutely LOVE the Sermon on the Mount. It is my second favorite passage in all our recorded scripture – right behind the Intercessory Prayer. However, we often forget that it was delivered to . . . his disciples . . . not to the multitude who had gathered because of his fame. In fact, the first verses of Matthew 5 are crystal clear as to his audience:
1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Here is my point – my two points, really.
1) This great sermon was delivered as a higher level discourse to his most dedicated followers – including those who eventually would form the new faith of Christianity. Its standards absolutely are not easy, and its directives absolutely are not natural.
Sometimes we hold the general population of the Church (and each other and others) to these standards, while Jesus himself took great care not to do so of the general population of his followers. This often is a good example of unrealistic expectations – and of demanding others live a standard we ourselves are unable to master.
2) This great sermon was delivered mostly to the MEN who would form the leadership of his movement, even though there is no reason to believe that the listeners were all men. (I personally believe there were women present.)
Did the gender composition of the listening group have an impact on the content of the sermon?
Generally speaking, the list of attributes included in the Beatitudes are considered throughout history to be feminine. Jesus was speaking primarily to men about how to change and grow (repent) and become godlike. So,
1) Might the Sermon on the Mount have been different if the primary audience had been women? If so, how?
2) How can we take the general message of repentance (change and growth and the acquisition of godly characteristics) and use it to achieve the proper balance we need to become “perfect” (complete, whole, fully developed)?
3) Must every individual acquire all the characteristics listed – or can a spouse/companion share that endeavor and, between two, create one united, balanced, “prefect” whole?