This Sunday, 2 February, we celebrate the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation in the Temple. That story is told by Luke, not by Matthew.

Instead we are looking forward to the coming weeks where the readings are taken from the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:1-2
5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went onto the mountain.
And when he was seated his disciples came to him.
5:2   Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them...

In the forgoing stories we heard that Jesus had been baptised; he sustained temptations in the desert; he chose some fishermen as disciples and preached the Good Message (Gospel).
Now Matthew is telling us that Jesus goes onto the mountain to speak to his disciples. That reminds us of Moses who did the same more than a thousand years ago.

According to Matthew Jesus gave five sermons in his public life. This is the first one and it is called after the opening line ‘Sermon on the Mount’. That sermon takes up the chapters 5 - 7 in Matthew’s Gospel. It is Jesus' maiden speech. The programme of his mission; his philosophy of life.

In 5:1 we hear that Jesus goes up onto the mountain; in 8:1 he comes down from the mountain; that is the framing of the Sermon of the Mount, emphasised by the crowd (5:1 and 8:1).
The Sermon itself is constructed in three parts:
1. 5:03 - 5:16 programme / introduction;
2. 5:17 - 7:12 Jesus’ vision on ‘Law and Prophets’, his religious tradition;
3. 7:13 - 7:27 conclusion.

Picture Meditation

The spirit from heaven (the dove) descends upon Jesus. He is surrounded by flowers and greenery. The artist changes the mountain of Matthew’s text into a paradise. This association is confirmed by the snake under Jesus’ foot and by the mourning naked woman, bottom right.

She must be Eve. Beyond her Adam? After the Fall of Man God spoke to the serpent (Genesis 3:15), ‘I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel.' According to the artist these words become true at this very moment. 

The evil spirit submits to Jesus. Is that my experience? Were there moments in my life that it became true for me?

The four men in front of Jesus: are they the four great prophets of the Old Testament: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel? If so, then they witness that their prophecies have come true in Jesus.

How far is Jesus the fulfilling of my wishes and desires as well?

I look at all the people who come to Jesus, listening, gazing. I see a child upon the shoulders of its father (or grandfather?). Far away a child is held up to be seen and blessed by Jesus. In the top corner left a sick woman...

Am I one of them? Am I nearby Jesus or rather far away? Why did I come to Jesus?