Context: Of the discourses by Jesus which have come down to us, that traditionally known as the Sermon on the Mount is regarded as among the greatest. Matthew quotes a version of the full text in Chapters 5, 6, and 7. He records in Chapter 4 that after Jesus began to gather His disciples He went about Galilee, preaching the gospel and healing the sick, and that His fame spread all over Syria. Great multitudes from the surrounding country followed Him, and when He saw how large their number was He took His disciples up onto a mountain and instructed them in the gospel He wished them to help Him spread. The Sermon on the Mount is an admirable survey and exposition of the basic principles of Christianity. Beginning with the Beatitudes, Jesus continues with an exposition of moral law, emphasizing inner motivations rather than external codes of conduct. He stresses forgiveness of others, even to the point of loving one's enemies, and He illustrates righteousness in various ways. He provides His followers with a model prayer; this, He says in reference to the Lord's Prayer, embodies all that a prayer should be. He then stresses the importance of spiritual considerations over material things. After warning His disciples against base and hypocritical motives and the ease with which they can be rationalized, He states the Golden Rule. This very basic guide to conduct is then illustrated with a number of practical applications. Jesus points out that His way to salvation requires something of those who follow it and warns against false prophets and the barren lives to which they would lead us. Most of Jesus' other sermons are extensions of the rules, maxims, and principles stated in the Sermon on the Mount; and His life was an effort to exemplify them. He concludes with a striking parable drawn from His work as a carpenter. Anything we build, concrete or symbolic, material or spiritual, must have a solid and enduring basis or it is nothing.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.